T Nation

Perfect Form vs. Going Heavy


Which delivers the best results, in your opinion? I've noticed more muscle growth from going as heavy as possible, compared to lighter weights with flawless form.

Not that you should toss form to the wind, but as long as you're not at significant risk of injuring yourself, I think you will break down and ultimately build more muscle by going as heavy as you can.


how about as heavy as possible with good form?




Marauder Meat said, you don't get big from liftin little weights with perfect form. I'll listen to him since he rows 400+ for reps.

If the choice is between:

form is 100% and lift 100lbs
form is 95% and lift 150lbs <----I think everyone will pick this


I guess it depends how strictly you're defining "good form". For example, this morning I was doing supinated lat pulldowns, and was able to use a heavier weight by leaning back slightly instead of staying perfectly vertical.


Oh boy! Looks like another T-Nation re-run! Good thing I'm not busy today. I can't WAIT to see how this thread turns out......again.


Yeah, that's really what I'm getting at. I agree with Marauder.


sure look at the pros i wouldn't call what they do perfect form, but it works.


On a more serious note, like it's been said many times before, the skinny guys lifting for years are the form police, the big dudes are the ones using judicious (sp?) cheating with big weight. Nothing funnier than watching somebody do super-strict DB OH presses with 25's and taking almost minute to complete the set.


perfect form = whatever trashes the target muscle the most thoroughly and stimulates the most growth.


Look at ronnie coleman, His form was far from great and he is a beast.Very little ROM as well.


Lifting experience plays a big part in how much form you sacrifice IMO. I wouldn't be telling a beginner to be sacrificing form when they are still learning it to begin with.

Its like kipping with Chin-ups. It doesn't make sense to stop at 5 reps with perfect form if you can get 2-3 more from kipping. Shit like this and lat pulldowns don't really have big injury risks, as opposed to Benching/Squatting/Deadlifting when poor form can do more harm then good.


I was told

Main Compound exercises - NO breakdown of form

Small Exercises - Some allowance of breakdown of form.

Works pretty well :slightly_smiling:


I think there is a middle ground that needs to be used. Form targets the particular muscle and heavy ass weight builds it. Find the combination that allows the target muscle to lift the most weight and you'll be on your way to much larger muscles. The problem is when you cheat so much that momentum and other muscles take over the lift and the muscle you are trying to hit does hardly any work and injury is a common result of sloppy ass form.

On the other hand, you will never see someone curling the 100 pound dumbbells with out a little swing. Again I at least look for that middle ground and I think that's the right way to train.


MM is a beast - he's a huge & strong man, that's for sure.

However, his laundry list of injuries is pretty daunting. Then again, he doesn't care, and has balls of steel working thru some of the shit he's had going on.

But, if you do care, then I'd say as heavy as possible with good form. I wouldn't say perfect, but good enough so you can go just that extra little bit heavier at your top poundage and not get hurt. And I'm not saying MM has poor form, I'm sure his form is fine.

There's no argument as to whether you should go heavy to build as much muscle as possible - you absolutely should.


That's a good point about newbies using stricter form, until they know how far they can safely sacrifice form to move the most weight possible. I was more focused on form my first couple years of lifting.

I also agree that certain exercises are more forgiving than others. After hurting my back more than once, I've realized deadlifts/squats require more attention to form than lifts like rows and dips.


Yes, it depends on what the lift is, and what "good form" is considered. Consider whether "bad form" is unsafe, or just "cheating".

Your example of pulldowns is a good one. I dont know too many people that will be able to go heavy without leaning back, but you obviously could take it too far with the cheating.

An example would be kipping pullups. You'll see crossfitters doing these for 20-30 reps, but why not get stronger and be able to do 20-30 strict pullups.

Lastly, I think isolation movements are the best place to "cheat". Stuff like cheat curls and tricep ext. rollbacks are a great way to up the intensity without adding too much risk. As opposed to ignoring perfect form on something like a deadlift or bench, its obvious that isolation movements would be the place to cheat.


Well put Austin. I definitely feel the same - yes, as heavy as possible, but keep the form tight and cheat within reason....


bingo !!!!!!!!!!!!


On big compound movements like bench, squat, and deadlifts, the more I work on my form, the more weight I can move. "grease the groove". There's a mechanically advantageous path that allows you to push the most weight. Good form is being on that path.

On smaller isolation movements, cheat like Arnold did: to get a couple more reps after there's no way you could get them properly, but to where your cheated reps are at least as intense as your last good ones. Cheating w/ the shoulders on BB curls comes to mind, where you use just enough shoulder to keep the weight from going back down. Then its sort of like a mechanical drop set.