Your Biggest Enemy in the Gym: Your Ego
We receive a lot of questions on Shop.Builder. This article was inspired by one of them, it sounded like this:
"Is it worth to put away the ego too when you are trying out a new exercise?"
We could say the question is wrong because the answer to it is obvious (YES!), but it is not, because the question of ego is present in a lot of people's minds, not everybody thinks the way we do.
"What all these people are going to think of me when I do this exercise with this tiny weight?" – most gym-goers have asked this question in their minds. I don't say it has never happened to me, but What I will say is that your Ego is the absolute biggest enemy of yourself in the gym.
Let's see what happens and how it looks like when somebody works out with the Ego
It may look cool to use big-ass weights, but it can look very bad. It happens mostly at the most dangerous compound exercises (squat, bench press, deadlift, incline press): our imaginary ego-lifter puts too many plates on the bar, chooses dumbbells that are too big. A result is a poor form, which can be:
- twitching, jerking with the weights
- using the wrong moving patterns
- involving every muscle BUT the target muscle in the movement
- doing fewer reps than optimal
- not feeling the target muscles do the job (bad mind-muscle connection)
People try to cheat (I emphasize: they are trying to cheat, more about this soon) during the execution of these exercises because the amount of lifted weight is the most apparent.
They also try to use more weight than they can handle during the more safer exercises (pec-deck machine, triceps pushdowns, etc), but not as much, because they receive less attention. Nobody asks what is your 1RM max in triceps pushdowns, but everybody wants to know that is your 1RM bench press record.
But let me ask this:
Why do you care about what strangers think of you?
You should answer this question as easily as the first one which inspired this article. You should NOT worry about what others think of you at all. But really, who the hell cares? This is bodybuilding, not a strongman competition, for Christ's sake.
The dogma that bodybuilders are strong is long gone. Of course, they are much stronger than ordinary people, but in this sport, power does not matter (insert You Have No Power meme here*). You will be good at it if you are:
- and shredded
at the same time. The strength you have in your muscles has about as much say in the outlook of your physique as much say you had to be born or not.
Then why would you want to indicate to the world that you are strong?
Let's say you are not in the shape of your life yet, and so, you try to compensate this and the lack of your confidence with a weight that surpasses your abilities during your workout. With cheating – because this is cheating – you cheat, mislead your own self, you hinder your own progression.
Why? Because using too much weight leads to the improper execution of the exercises. At the best case scenario you "only" avoid hypertrophy (with other words: muscle growth) because you won't be able to do the minimum required repetitions (5) as a bodybuilder must do and your target muscles won't receive the necessary stimulus.
Worst-case scenario: you will get injured (either right away or in the long run), so you will also miss muscle growth, cause you won't be able to train.
Either way, you will only scam yourself with your Ego, you won't be able to fool others. Bigger weights won't make you look either more muscular, ripped, or symmetrical. Oh, and you can be sure that those who know how to do the exercises properly will notice your horrible form, so you won't look cool. You will look like a clown.
So don't care about what others think of your strength, don't care about how much weight you are lifting. It. Does. Not. Matter.
And do not compete with the other guys (or girls) in the gym in this regard. You can, however, compete with yourself. You actually have to do that. You have to reach new goals almost every time you get into the gym. This goal can be whatever, from lifting heavier weights to doing one more rep with a certain weight.
Again, you are not cheating, you are competing with yourself. That is two different things. One of them is harmful and completely useless.
Your biggest enemy in the gym.
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