Are You Moving Weight or Muscle?

This is a question I ask myself all the time while training: am I going through the motions of moving weight for 10 reps, or am I squeezing my target muscle for 10 quality reps? 

Oftentimes we get caught up in the amount of weight we can lift.  We get overzealous and want to make progress as fast as possible, so we add more weight.  As a result we push or pull the weight, but do we feel our target muscle, or do we feel ALL of the muscles contributing to the movement?  An example of this is seeing someone performing a set of bicep curls and you notice they are using a fair amount of weight.  Upon closer examination you notice the person doesn't have the solid, peaked biceps you'd expect.  You do notice some biceps development, but also notice that the person has great anterior delts as well. The point I'm making? Is the person building biceps, or biceps and shoulders?

Putting the ego aside and lightening up the weight to allow you to focus on the specific muscle you are working, instead of training so heavy that you compromise form and start recruiting other surrounding muscles, is critical to building a balanced physique.  When you're putting your hard work and effort into trying to build the physique of an Adonis, focusing on your target muscle group is of key importance.  In the wise words of Arnold "You've got to burn to grow" applies to this principle.  When you bench you should be able to feel your pecs contracting on each and every rep and you should be able to squeeze them at the top of the movement.  You should have a pump in your pecs, not your pecs, shoulders, back, and triceps.  Focusing on squeezing your target muscle will allow you to be able to get the most out of your training and time spent in the gym.  

See you in the gym,
Joe Lyons
2007 NPC Palmetto Cup Overall Champion
ON Reps and Sets Athlete

The author is a compensated ON Sets and Reps Athlete, however, the views, opinions, and comments expressed here are those exclusively of the author and do not necessarily represent those of Optimum Nutrition.
Leave a Comment
dougie doug
Jun 08, 2007
Great article Joe! I too struggle wiht this, as you know already, but it really does make a difference when you leave your ego at the door and really focus on squeezing the target muscle. Once again, great article!
-dougie doug
Jun 19, 2007
so does this, too, apply to strength training? If my main concern is getting stonger, rather than shaping, should I still try to focus on my muscle?
Apr 01, 2009
I find that this is really key for the chest. Once I humbled myself and started lifting less weight and actually squeezing my chest, I grew immensely. Soon I was lifting a lot more than before. Good advice!