Stu has also talked about how he really started growing once he stopped caring so much about moving the heaviest weights possible and really concentrated on form and optimal contraction. [/quote]
Yep. In his Q+A just last week, he laid out some pretty great info on the topic:
[quote]The Mighty Stu wrote:
@StayStrong- Activities Guy pretty much hit my thinking on the head. I’ve never told anyone to go out of their way to lift light weights. Simply that the mentality of many of the gym rats when I first started training was to move as much weight as possible, at all costs. Progressive resistance training (the scientific jargon for anyone playing around with weights) means that there is some type of progression. The simplest way to measure a very obvious variable (especially for beginners) is to try and add more weight to the bar.
Obviously this isn’t a bad thing, but, as there are so many other factors involved, to simply ignore them, and their very important roles in contributing to muscle gain, will eventually lead you to the inevitable plateau of “I’m pretty strong, but I just can’t get my _____ to grow” that we’ve seen countless times.
Doing “work” doesn’t always mean you moved the most weight possible in the gym. One piece of advice I’ve been repeating over the years to clients, gym buddies, even co-workers who complain of not making progress, is “your muscles have no idea how much weight is on the bar.” All they know if how hard they are being called upon to work within a certain duration (that can be each set, or the total of your training session).
That means that some permutation of weight lifted, time under tension for target muscles, repetition cadence, state of target muscles going into a movement, ability of exercises chosen to hit specific muscle groups… will all factor in to whether you make physique progress or not.
Sure I’ve talked about how “chasing numbers” didn’t give me a Pro level physique, but learning to train properly did. That doesn’t mean that I went out of my way to train light. In fact, I’ve always hung around a good number of power lifters and strongman competitors and most would all agree that “for a bodybuilder”, I moved some pretty respectable poundages (550 squat, 500 dead, 385 flat bench - nothing to give a real PLer any competition, but I’m proud of 'em).
Your body will get stronger over time (to a point of course), it will just kinda happen if you’re continually pushing. But as someone who subjects themselves to the rigors of contest preps, you learn to me more mindful of the forest, not just the tress. During my first contest prep, I was still inclining sets of 275 a few weeks out. As the years went on, and I took a good hard look at the overall picture, I realized I could get the same stress by improving my performance of the movement, really milking it, avoiding portions of the ROM where I felt the stress lessen, even paying considerable attention to the sequencing of my chosen exercises for the day.
Sure I could still lay down on a flat bench and throw up 3+ plates if I did it first, BUT, I knew that my chest actually GREW better if I pre-exhausted first with cable flyes, and then used DB’s instead of a bar. Yes, it may not look as cool or impressive to the wanna be powerlifters throwing up more weight than they should be handling, and usually with form so bad it looks like they’re trying to give themselves scoliosis, but if your goal is a good looking physique, you have to keep a sane perspective.[/quote]
[quote]The Mighty Stu wrote:
Thanks for the reply Stu. I know you never told anyone to try to lift lighter weights, just to make sure the weight is appropriate for stimulating the muscle. Which for some people (myself included) means stepping back from what they’re currently lifting.[/quote]
Exactly! It just surprises me how many people misconstrue what this actually means. For every time I mention how top natty competitors like Brian Whitacre will point out how “not strong” they are, obviously they’re speaking relatively. They’d still bury the majority of people in any non-powerlifting gym with what they handle en route to their physique building goals.
Yates was always quick to say that if you’re not getting the size results you’re after, half your working weights and make sure you’re actually doing the work with your muscles. If you can separate your ego from the best route to your intended results, you’ll be much happier in the long run.[/quote]