First off, let me begin by saying, “heavy” is a relative term. Benching 200 lbs could be a Hail Mary for a skinny guy but a walk in the park for your everyday club bouncer. So for the sake of this article, let’s define heavy as the weight in which you can only lift for 3-5 reps – it’s what turns you to Super Saiyan 4.
Now here are just some of the things I do to be able to lift as heavy as I can when I visit the weight room.
I get a beauty rest the night before. When I say beauty rest, I mean sleep for a minimum of 7 hours. (7.5 hours seem to do the trick for me.) It’s no question that having enough sleep gives you all the energy to face your day-to-day challenges. You would also need that to muster the strength to beat that PR (Personal Record) of yours.
Sleep is vitally important in a war zone where your weapon is your body. If I only had 6 hours of sleep, I don’t lift weights or do any exercise at all. But I do deeply admire those who can get by with just 4 hours of sleep (yes, they exist).
I eat plenty of fruits and vegetables. Besides the fact that they pack the least amount of calories, they all provide you with nutrients that help your body release energy naturally and efficiently compared to these so-called “energy” drinks. I used to rely heavily on caffeine and some of the carbonized pre-workout power drinks they named after a dangerous species until I started getting stung badly by uncontrollable jitters and palpitations.
Apples and bananas quickly took their place in my pre-workout meal. I can’t emphasize this enough: You want your heart rate to be as low as possible, not up. It was too late when realized that these energy drinks were virtually useless, not to mention harmful.
I take my time to warm up. As I enter the gym, I don’t sprint to the racks and push them 100-lb plates right away like a madman. Instead, I walk gracefully to the bench (or squat rack), do some dynamic warm-up reps for roughly 15 minutes, and once my target muscles are fully engulfed in blood, only then I go guns blazing.
Here’s the rationale: Warm-up lifts prepare your muscle for the ultimate push. You would want to properly heat up the engine before stepping on the gas in a drag-race, would you not? Preparation is the key. I believe this is also the same reason why them women take 2 hours to get ready when going “out” – they want to look their best (duh).
I pray. Moments before I lay it on the line and channel all my warm earthly energy to the iron weights, I pray. As I wrap my hands to the bar and burst my hips off the ground to execute the deadliest lift, I pray. “Lord, thank you for giving me the strength to lift this weight”, is what I tell the Almighty as I hit 2 to 4 reps of the heaviest of the heaviest plates. Saying so does 2 things for me, 1) it makes me feel safe knowing that there’s some ‘one’ or some ‘thing’ watching over me and 2) it prepares my body mentally.
Even before pressing the heaviest weight or jumping on the highest box, my brain is already tricked into pulling it off. It may sound silly but hey, it works for me. You don’t really have to pray to any gods or sacrifice a hen to make this work; if you have a different belief, you can try talking to a loved one or someone who inspires you (in your head).
You think these would help you get the strength you need to reach your fitness goals? Try them and let me know the results!