It’s well known that you need to incorporate progressive overload into your training to progress and to add muscle.  However, what is not talked about is training smarter and having a greater understanding of the exercises you are executing.  I see so many people in the gym wasting reps, not making the most of their time and getting the maximum return when doing the exercises.

So ask yourself:

-What muscle am I trying to work?

-Do you have a steady tempo?

-Am I contracting the muscle?

-Am I shortening and lengthening the muscle through its full range?

What best describes your training personality?

Are you a detail-oriented training geek who has read all the theory or are you an intensity-focused, leave-blood-on-the-bar meathead?

Don’t run before you can walk, we’ve all been guilty of ego lifting, myself included, but is that optimal? For example with a bicep curl, are you lifting the load with your bicep, or are guilty of:

-Using your shoulders and traps

-Using your lower back

-Using momentum

You are not as strong as you think when you strictly use the targeted muscle, but who cares, as long as you develop bigger biceps.

Once you have mastered exercise execution, then it’s time to think about incorporating progressive overload. Why would you progressive over load bad technique only for your technique to get worse, increase the risk of injury and deviate more of the stress away from the intended muscle?

When lifting weights, your body is always looking to make it easier, consciously and sub consciously. I would suggest performing the exercise from a disadvantageous position, meaning less things can come into play and make movement more restricted and also slowing down the concentric (lifting) portion of the movement, for

example: lateral raises, sitting back on an incline bench.

This is not say that intensity and training hard doesn’t have its place, obviously it does.  Ideally, a combination of both is best, and the key is to find your sweet spot.  I suggest taking a step back to analyse your technique and consider ways to improve it, the ideal time for this would be during a de-load week if it’s included in your programme.