My Mistakes: I Couldn’t Lift Anything

MY STORY IS NOT A PRETTY ONE

I couldn’t lift anything…

No seriously, I couldn’t lift anything. It was actually pretty funny.

It was the summer of 2011, and I had just turned 19. I was determined to get stronger and riddled with muscles like all of those fancy male models. My goals were high and I had determination like no other. There was only one problem…

I had no idea how to reach my goal.

My Mistake

Here’s the deal, boy scout: raw determination means nothing if you don’t know what you’re doing. My stubbornness mixed with determination left me with the unwillingness to actually do any research to what it would take to get big and strong. I was 19, and all I wanted was to be eye candy for the ladies.

So with this new attitude on lifting, I decided to build my own workout plan and schedule (again, a no-no for a novice like me).

I had arms that could be snapped by a butterfly, and man-boobs that should have required a man-bra (maybe one day those will come into style). Naturally, I wanted to work on my arms the most to intrigue the ladies with the best gun show in the west! Armed with my shorts that were way short (I’m talking about some major knee cap game), spider man t-shirt (I needed his strength, okay…), and my headband (don’t ask), I started my workout process!

My Mistakes
The Shorts of Shortness…Thank your lucky stars you didn’t see me in these.

My Workout

I had a rinky-dink 20lb dumb bell that I found at a garage sale in high school. I’ve always held onto it, telling myself that I was going to use it someday to get big and strong. Now I was going to use it for my arms.

The 20lb dumb bell felt unnaturally heavy when trying to curl it (I told you my arms were puny), but I decided I would push through the pain no matter the cost! Here’s a breakdown of my routine:

  • Two Handed Curl – 100 reps
  • Right Handed Curl – 100 reps
  • Left Handed Curl – 100 reps

Now, if any of you reading this story know anything about lifting, you know this was a big mistake. When curling, or any exercise for that matter, extremely high-reps are definitely not the way to go. Trust me, I also had zero form to go with my zero knowledge of how to perform the lift. I was swinging my back, jerking my elbows, and slamming my arms more violently than a cocky rooster in a hen house (I apologize, I’m southern).

At the end of the workout I could barely lift my arms and couldn’t feel my elbows. Let me tell you, I felt accomplished and felt 20 times stronger than when I started.

My Mistakes
The Dumb Bell of Death…it was more intimidating back then.

The Aftermath

Lordy, I will tell you this was a whole new world of pain I had never felt before in my life!

The next morning when I woke up, not only could I not lift either of my arms, but my elbows were screaming louder than a pre-teen at a One Direction concert (they’re still the “in” thing right?).

My first thought was, “Am I dying?”

My second thought was, “Definitely. I’m definitely dying.”

In my stubbornness to actually read up on how to perform lifts or even plan a workout properly, I had completely neglected the fact that doing 300 reps with a 20lb dumb bell THE WRONG WAY would give me insane tendinitis in both of my elbows.

It was painful, awkward, and I had to try and explain to my boss why I dropped hot coffee on my lap my first morning at work. My tendinitis took a substantial amount of time to go away, causing me to wince in pain at the simplest of tasks.

IN CONCLUSION

Why do I mention this story to you? It’s simple, dear reader: I don’t want you to make the same mistake that I did.

I was stubborn, cocky, and didn’t have the right goals in mind in order to put together both a safe and beneficial workout. Instead, I grabbed my 20lb dumb bell and shorty-shorts, and went to town. All this did was put a bad taste in my mouth when it came to exercising, and turned me away from working out for a full 6 months.

Fast forward to now, and for the past two months I have been writing about the complete basics of lifting, body types, diet planning, and more. Never once did I fully go into detail about my workout horror story that turned me away from lifting. Not until a New Year’s resolution on 2012 did I actually return to the gym (after reading up on some how-to pamphlets). Four years since changing my mindset, it’s all been a great ride and I’m excited to see where my training will get me.

Now I have a new goal: to help those who are just beginning their workout journey to have a better understanding of lifting and training by informing them of best practices, dieting tips, and motivation. I don’t want you to make the same mistakes I did, I want you to succeed. If I can update my lifestyle from a shrimpy 19 year old guy who has string-bean arms and zero understanding to the lifter that I am now, anybody can do it.

That’s why at the end of every blog post I always leave my motto…

Do your research, get prepared, and get lifting!

From Yours Truly
See you next time!

Why Form is More Important than Weight

That’s right, I said it, form is way more important than the amount of weight you’re lifting. Some of you may be screaming, “No! That’s blasphemy! As long as I can lift 400 pounds it doesn’t matter how I get it up!”

Yea, how about you get back to me when you’re in your 40’s (those joints will be screaming!)

Here’s the deal, just like our last post that discussed proper breathing techniques, a lifter has to maintain proper form throughout all lifts in able to ensure maximum safety.

To put it simply: lift the right way or you’re going to get hurt, badly.

Here’s why:

NOT KNOWING THE BASICS CAN CAUSE SERIOUS ISSUES

All this blog has been devoted to for the first 2 months of its existence is the basics of lifting (from body types to eating to techniques). Why are the techniques important? Knowing the proper techniques keeps you safe AND ensures efficient gains. If you just start lifting without having a clue on the proper way to do so can injure yourself, others, and decrease the amount of your gains.

Improper Form

Of course we start this section off with how improper form is bad. Say it with me, BAD. B-A-D.

Lifting the wrong way, as stated several times throughout this post, can cause some serious injuries. For example, say you’re trying to curl a much heavier weight than you normally could if you were lifting with proper form. So, you decide to swing your hips and back in order to get the weight to the right height of the lift.

WRONG.

Throwing your back during a lift, especially with a heavier weight than you should be lifting, can cause serious back injuries. Such injuries include: slipped disk, damaged muscle fibers, herniated disk, etc. Trust me; it’s really not worth it.

Fake Exercises

This aspect of lifting is hard to diagnose. Not because an exercise is fake, but because there are so many exercises are there that have alterations thrown in to make things difficult. However, performing a fake exercise just because you think it will benefit you DOESN’T necessarily mean that it will.

While performing a move or lift that you’re not necessarily is legitimate, test to see how your joints and muscles react to the lift. If they react to more than just a usual strain from the weight, you have an issue. Always ask a trainer if you’re unsure.

LESS IS MORE

When I say this, I’m referring to weights. I’m referring to weights due to the fact that one of the main reasons that people lift with improper form is due to the fact that they’re lifting heavier than they should. It is definitely arguable that lifting heavier than you’re able to just to do so is the best way to gain mass muscle

Proper Form Can Lead to Better Gains

If you’re lifting properly, even with less weight, you can get great gains more often. With proper form you can always attack the right muscle fibers at the right time. Instead of using extra joints and muscle that you should never be using, focus on using the proper amounts of muscle with the proper form. This will ensure the best possible gains while getting them safely.

Trust me on this one, if won’t matter if you increase your max weight if you have to quit lifting due to a slipped disk or dislocated shoulder.

IN CONCLUSION

Yes, lifting heavy is always great.

Yes, increasing your max is an awesome feeling.

No, using improper form is not the best way to lift.

Lifting should be a fun, healthy, and safe experience for you and your comrades. If you ever have a question on whether the way your lift is going, always ask partner, or better yet a trainer.

Do your research, get prepared, and get lifting!

Why Form is More Important than Weight
Check out Derek Poundstone’s form!