Build Strength (weird strategy)

Bobby Cox lifting weights

For those of you who like to lift heavy because your goal is to increase muscle mass, those heavy weights might be the reason you’re NOT gaining size. This is what happens when you choose weights that are too heavy:

“You reduce the time under (mechanical) tension because you’re forced to use momentum to cheat” (1).

You’re unable to lower the weight with control, which reduces your time under tension aka TUT (1). Less TUT = less growth and less strength.

You’re using other muscles, which reduces tension on the very muscles you are targeting (1).

Another sign of lifting too heavy is pain. I know that you don’t want to lose muscle mass, and I’m a fan of increasing weight, but at some point, you’re going to be at a point of no return.

Regression, lowering weight, is an actual technique to re-build and grow. Try lifting lighter weights, and really concentrate on lowering the weight, slowly, with control, for three seconds.

Try doing isometric holds. If you’re doing a shoulder lateral raise, you hold the weights at shoulder height for 1-8 seconds. If you’re doing a bench press, hold the weight at the bottom for a second or two.

Take no more than five-minute breaks during your workout (1).

These techniques build strength and size, which reduce the likelihood of injury. After four to six weeks of lifting lighter weights, you might see larger muscles, and be able to lift even heavier weights than before. Keep in mind that strength is not linear, it ebbs and flows. Listen to what your body tells you. Leave the muscle-head mindset in the trash, where it belongs.

Photo: Bobby Cox, master trainer in Washington


  1. Source: Tumminello, Nick. “The Most Effective Muscle-Building Strategies. Best Splits, Sets, Reps, Tempos, and More.” TNation. Jul 27, 2020.

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