You Don't Need to Lift Heavier Weight to Build Strength | STACK
X

Become a Better Athlete. Sign Up for our FREE Newsletter.

Opinion: You Don't Need to Lift Heavier Weight to Build Strength

March 12, 2013 | Bryan Meyer

Must See Strength Training Videos

The exercise world is misguided in the belief that the only way to make an exercise harder is to lift heavier weight. Many practitioners fail to take into account the damage this does to your joints. If you continue to stress a joint in the same direction, you will impair joint function and lose the ability to reach your goal. (Learn how muscles get bigger.)

You can challenge muscles and joints in other ways by applying force from different directions. A lot of times, the weight load isn't as heavy, but it's applied more correctly. For example, consider the Bench Press. You perform the same linear pressing movement each time. Try performing a the pressing motion while kneeling or in a Lunge. This changes the muscle action and offers a new challenge to your muscles, but you are only using a fraction of the weight.

The "add more weight" mindset also causes serious technique issues. Often when people increase the resistance of an exercise, in order to accommodate the heavier weight, they move parts of their body that should remain stationary. They aren't strong enough to lift the weight with proper form, so the exercise does not yield the desired results and could lead to an injury.


To start applying force to your muscles from different directions, you must first learn how to control your body in a stable environment. Try doing a Machine Press or Bench Press and focus on performing perfect reps for a specified time. Maintain your form throughout the exercise, although it will become difficult as you fatigue. Try three to four sets of 30 seconds. Lower the weight slowly and do a hold in the middle of each rep to add muscle-building effect.

Next, I recommend performing exercises that force you to stabilize without the help of a bench or machine. Below you will see Dwight Howard performing a Physioball Single-Arm Press and a Seated Single-Arm Cable Press, both with lateral resistance. These will challenge your muscles in a new plane of motion and unlock strength you never knew you had. Start with three to four sets of 30 seconds each exercise.

Dwight Howard Physioball Single-Arm Press

Dwight Howard Single-Arm Cable Press

Check out Dwight Howard's full workout.

Bryan Meyer
- Bryan Meyer is a leading expert in athletic performance coaching and the founder of B Meyer Training in Orlando. In 2005, he became Dwight Howard’s...
Bryan Meyer
- Bryan Meyer is a leading expert in athletic performance coaching and the founder of B Meyer Training in Orlando. In 2005, he became Dwight Howard’s...
More Cool Stuff You'll Like

4 Deadlift Variations to Increase Your Pull

The deadlift is often considered one of the fundamental exercises for developing the strength of an athlete. Although very taxing on the nervous system,...

Get a Ripped Core With 6 Advanced Dead Bug Variations

Perfect Your Squat Technique With the Unloaded Squat

Break Through Plateaus With the 1-10 Drop Set Method

4 Exercises to Build True Lacrosse Power

Dominate Your Bench Test With This Strategy

Build Full-Body Strength With 5 Suspension Trainer Exercises

7 Ways to Work Out Competitively Without CrossFit

Notice On-Court Results With This Basketball Core Workout

How to Design a Greco-Roman Wrestling Training Program

4 Weaknesses That Can Ruin Your Exercise Technique (With Fixes)

5 Isolation Exercises Your Workout Is Missing

3 Nordic Hamstring Curl Exercises to Boost Your Performance

The Best Single-Leg Exercises for Youth Athletes

7-Exercise Core-Blasting Workout

Build Powerful Pecs With This Multi-Angle Chest Workout

7 Strategies for Faster Workout Recovery

3 Post-Activation Potentiation Combos for Explosive Strength

Female Athletes: Get Strong, Not Bulky, With These Workouts

4 Sure-Fire Ways to Build a Strong Core

How Functional Training Has Overly Complicated Strength Training

How Often Should You Vary Your Exercise?

7 Exercises That Safely Build Shoulder Strength

The Simplest Bodyweight Workout Ever

3 Sandbag Training Mistakes Athletes Make

7 Best Lower-Body Strengthening Exercises

3 Explosive Exercises Designed to Increase Pitching Power

5 Softball Catcher Drills for Throwing Power

Improve Your Back Strength with the Inverted Row

4 Lifts to Build Wrestling Strength

These 3 Single-Leg Movements Will Improve Your Squat Technique

Blast Through Plateaus with Tempo Sets

A Better Way to Train Your Core

Never Bench Press With Your Feet in This Position

Don't Train Your Arms Until You Can Do These 4 Things

Top 5 Baseball Strength Training Myths

7 Strategies for Dealing With a Meathead in Your Gym

Bench Press Grip Guide: How Hand Placement Changes the Exercise

Make Lifts More Challenging With Resistance Bands

Master the Lateral Lunge to Improve Your Hockey Stride

10 Ways to Get Stronger With a Sandbag

The Science of Building Muscle: 2 Ways to Maximize Hypertrophy

Get Faster by Improving Your Core Mobility

Kyle Lowry's 12-Week All-Star Training Program