Tommy Kono says it best when it comes to Quality vs. Quantity, “Making one incorrect lift requires three correct ones in a row to erase the memory pattern that was set up. Make 3 incorrect lifts in a row and you have to perform 27 correct lifts to erase the memory pattern that was set up.”
The reason it goes to 27 correct lifts needed instead of 9 is because when you have that many incorrect lifts in a row it compounds. As you can see, improper form will quickly add up and could take years to correct a lift you thought you were doing correctly for a long time.
When performing lifts, always use a weight that is challenging and you can still perform with perfect form. For example, let’s say you are doing the classic Reg Park 5×5 workout and the exercise you are doing it with is the one arm kettlebell clean and press with the 24kg. For the first 3 sets you get all 5 reps but on the last 2 sets you can only get 3 reps.
You could have easily done a push press on those last 2 sets and got all 5 reps and sacrificed form but instead you stopped just short of failure. Obviously the weight is challenging since you cannot perform all of the 5×5, but the key is form was not sacrificed. Once you can perform 5×5 at 24kg, you will go up to the next weight.
Take little progressions every time you train and they will add up quickly over time. For example, let’s say you added just 1lb to your squat every week (I know what you’re thinking who uses 1lb plates, but just bear with me) for a whole year. That is 52 weeks of adding just one pound per week and now you’re squatting 52lbs more than what you were a year ago.
You see how quickly these little progressions can add up. Don’t try and jump up 25-50lbs. Instead, master the weight you are at and then add on 5 or 10lbs depending on the exercise. This can be applied to bodyweight exercises as well there is always a way to make a bodyweight exercise more challenging.
Onto my next point: always make sure you include strength training into your program. When you become stronger, everything else becomes easier. Get strong at the bodyweight you are at now. If you are an athlete, it does you no good to bulk up and become slow, immobile, and inflexible. Yes, in contact sports, you want some mass on you, but that will come by the strength training. Which will make you lean and fast as well.
Athletes need to be the strongest they can be at the current weight they are at. Don’t think you can be strong at 150lb? Think again. Have you ever watched Olympic Lifting and Gymnastics? Watch the Olympic lifts and you will see people 150lb and less putting 300+lbs over their head. Watch gymnasts and the way they can control their bodies and perform. What they can do is quite amazing.
One of the greats Arthur Saxon weighed 200lb and could bent press with one arm 370lb! This was a rare feet that was done back in 1905. These feats of strength show you what the the human body is capable of.
Another great quote from Bradley Steiner is “doing high reps with low weights will give you the same benefit as lifting a ping pong ball.” High reps have there place and time in training, but you want to make sure you are not sacrificing form. Doing high reps with bad technique is a sure case of an injury waiting to happen.
This leads me to my next point: never train to failure. All you are doing is teaching yourself how to fail. Always stop short of failure which means you still have about 1 or 2 reps left in the tank. When you always succeed at your lifts, your mental fortitude towards training will greatly increase.
Doing excessive high reps in one training session will leave you sore for days. This is not a sign that you had a great workout but instead a sign that you went beyond what your body is capable of doing and you have not fully recovered from the previous workout. You might be a little sore some days here and there, but it should never be to the point where you can’t move the next day.
This is a common misconception we have especially when most of us grew up training this way. When it comes to training, remember this phrase and say it over and over again in your head until it sticks (LESS IS MORE). It took me a long time to realize this, but once I started training with a minimalist approach my numbers started to increase, I was not sore all the time, and I had a lot more energy.
Keep your workouts short to an hour or less, make small progressions, and keep the number of exercises to 5 of fewer. If you cannot get what you need done in one hour, then you will never get it done. You are just wasting too much time while training or you are trying to do too much in one session.
If all you do are marathon sessions your body will never be able to fully recover. This is a one way ticket to burnout and being overtrained. Which can increase your chances of getting sick because your immune system is being overworked and cannot help defend itself. You will know when you had a great workout, and that is when you are done you feel energized and as if you could do it again.
Always train for Quality and not Quantity. A real world example would be going to the grocery store to buy fresh organic meats and veggies for a meal vs. going to McDonalds and buying 10 double cheeseburgers off the dollar menu. Would you rather put quality nutrient dense food into your body so you can fully recharge and feel energized or put a bunch of chemicals into your body making you feel slow and sluggish? This is the same thing that happens to your body when deciding between quality vs. quantity workout. Focus on quality reps and your numbers will increase.
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