Now, I know some of you may love your cars and affectionately refer to them in many ways, including a ‘set of wheels’, and I am sure many of you take good care of your set of wheels. Let me tell you a story about the first time I heard that phrase.
One day, early on in my body-building years, during a break from my ‘set’, I gazed out the window and down at the cars parked on the road (the gym was on the 1st floor), when the owner, came up to me and said –
“Son, you’ve got a good set of wheels there.”
I said “umm, no none of those cars there are mine. I jogged to the gym”.
He laughed and said that he wasn’t referring to the cars as he looked down at my legs. He pointed to my legs and said –
“those wheels – you’ve got a good set of wheels!”
I was a little embarrassed about the mis-understanding but I thanked him for the compliment.
Over the last 23 years of training with weights in the gym, I have managed to invest more time in those wheels he was referring to and the other body parts, with the goals of – balance and symmetry in mind. Sculpturing the most proportional physique that my genetic potential would allow. This harmony of the ‘flow-of-muscle’ has helped me represent Australia twice at the World Natural Body-building Championships and placed in the top 4 in consecutive years.
In all this time, I can proudly say that I have managed to stay relatively injury-free and have not seen a physio or chiro in that time for any serious injury. One of the contributing reasons is that how much weight I lift has been close to irrelevant to building my muscles and being considered one of the best natural body-builders in the world. What matters is QUALITY not QUANTITY. I have a ‘safety-first’ approach to training that does not hinder me or my client’s achieving the goals they desire.
I have never allowed the amount of weight I lift to be a critical factor of my progress. What mattered to be me has always been two things:
If I am not feeling the muscle and am not in control of the weight I am lifting then I am not building muscles in the most effective way. I am not maximizing my muscle growth potential. I always believed that to build good, quality muscle, one has to ‘leave ones’ ego at the door of the gym’.
I have seen it since I started lifting weights all those years ago and I still see it today, sadly, in increasing numbers amongst youth today – people using too much weight.
Aiming to build better wheels by using too much weight for movements like squats is like trying to bench too much, bouncing the bar off your chest and generally with very poor form. Not good at all. Flat Bench pressing with too much weight has been the primary reason that shoulder injuries is the most common injury sustained by men world over.
Not worth it, not good.
Why would you want to do that – overestimate how much weight you can lift or perform countless repetitions of a particular exercise with very bad form and for no particular purpose? Most people unfortunately use a scatter-gun approach to training and hope that what they are doing will get them to their goals.
So, back to my set of wheels analogy story, unless you just happen to have very strong legs and can train with huge poundages easily and copy the mass monsters you see on you-tube, there is just no need to try to squat 600 to 800 pounds.
As with any other body-part, use the appropriate amount of weight for the set/rep scheme you’re using, no more and no less. You need to remind yourself that you’re in the gym to train the muscle, not to impress the people around you with how much weight you can lift.
I have always said you should aim to “work the muscle, not the joint”.
So, it follows that if you’re aiming to build muscle and a more aesthetic, pleasing physique, remember that the actual amount of weight you use is irrelevant. You’re body-building, not power-lifting or weight-lifting or any other modern-day activities that are “off-shoots” of body-building, where measurements and numbers play a pivotal role. Knowing how much weight you can press or how many repetitions you can perform is how millions of weight-training enthusiasts all over the world, injure themselves.
Work on your set of wheels and build them with control and feel, with continuous tension and simplicity. Maximize muscle and minimise risks to knee joints.
Take care of your set of wheels, don’t damage them beyond repair. You don’t want to have to replace your knees and hips too early in your life.
Build your brawn with brain. Remember: You’re in the gym to help yourself, not hurt yourself.
Train hard. Train SMART.
Until next time,