I’ve often felt that weightlifting is close to sex, and it’s not just the physical feeling of “the pump,” as Arnold famously proclaims in Pumping Iron. (Is there a more intense depiction of masculinity in history? I think not.)
It’s sexy to feel blood rushing into your muscles as you stimulate them with heavy lifting. And when you have crazy vascularity paired with an all-time PR, well, it doesn’t get any better than that.
Just walking out into the daylight and feeling like a badass motherfucker, the world oblivious to what you just experienced, is sexy as hell. And when you feel great about your body, it’s hot just seeing how different clothes look on yourself (selfie, anyone?).
Weightlifting, like sex, is a process that leads up to a masterpiece you can be proud of. After a good bout of sex or lifting you can go through your day relaxed and self-assured that you’ve done something for the good of your psyche and body.
But as with any intoxicating activity, there are pitfalls if you don’t keep on top of it. Here are five mistakes to avoid with either endeavor for results that truly scream “YES!”
1. You go too fast
Whenever I see a guy on the seated calf machine pumping it like a piston, I imagine him doing the same thing to his girlfriend. Call me overly imaginative, but it’s not a big stretch to imagine a similarly ineffective stimulus for your poor muscles.
While speed training has value in spurts (my bad), over the long term you gotta slow down and feel the contraction. Squeeze the muscle hard at the contraction and pause for just a second. Do this every time and you’ll be on your way to the body sculpting you crave.
2. You take “beast mode” a bit too far
There’s nothing wrong with getting down and dirty in the bedroom… are we all on the same page here? But there’s that twinge in your back that tells you it’s gone a little too far with your still-new boyfriend. Or when all you have together is hot sex and it never turns into anything more meaningful.
Likewise, if you enjoy being in beast mode in the weight room, there’s a point when it can just turn bad.
If you enjoy flinging weights around simply for the love of beast mode, you won’t sculpt your body any time soon.
You see it all the time – Miss I-Gotta-Keep-Movin and Mr. Curls-Are-a-Full-Body-Exercise. She runs between exercise “stations” and madly trying to burn calories. He hopes he’ll bust out bigger biceps by hardly using his biceps at all.
When you sacrifice good technique to show off or get a “burn,” you’re likely to get injured or frustrated. Slow down and eliminate momentum. Enjoy the beauty of each contraction.
3. You don’t take a breather
Even if you’re an athletic, hormone-driven 18-year-old, you’ve got rest between sex sessions. (And if you’re not tired, you’re not playing very hard, are you?) Your body can’t really be ready for another session if it’s overused and sore, right? Am I right?
Ok, ok, it’s not a problem most of us have in the bedroom. But if you’re complaining that you work out all the time and never gain muscle, it’s because you’re not following the rules.
The fact is your body needs to recover and replenish in order to grow and perform better. If you continuously wear it down with plyometrics, kickboxing, Crossfit, and your personal training sessions, your central nervous system, soft tissues, and joints will be in survival mode all the time.
Allow your muscles to rest 48-72 hours between sessions. It’s really ok – they’re healing up for the next round.
4. You think it’s an endurance contest
If you only engaged in long, slow lovemaking sessions without any surprise, things might get a little sleepy after awhile. Similarly, endurance sessions have a place in weightlifting but shouldn’t be the star of the show.
Endurance training – using higher reps and lower weight – can provide a serious burn, let your joints rest from heavy lifting, and be used in periodizing your training. But when it comes to muscle growth, relying on endurance training too often is a fail. To build muscle, lift mostly in the 6-12 rep range, cycling in lower ranges (3-5) and higher ranges (12-20).
5. You’re too focused on “the pump”
“The most satisfying feeling you can get in the gym is the pump.” These famous words from Arnold’s Pumping Iron refer to “that tight feeling like your skin is going to explode.” Tha pump is addicting, most definitely beautiful, and found both in sex and weightlifting.
BUT, a relationship based on sex alone and a lifting routine based on aesthetics only both have shaky foundations. Lifting for “mirror muscles” only sets you ups with not-so-fun overuse injuries. I hear that having a relationship based on sex is great fun, but…
So enjoy the pump and make your back strong as hell too. Train in all planes of motion. Add in some agility and reactive training, power training, and speed training. Become well-rounded as a strength athlete and your body will respond aesthetically. And you’ll have a long lifting career.
Even the most beautiful things in life can be improved upon.
Photo source: Bodybuilding.com
This article originally appeared on www.workoutnirvana.com.