Skip to main content

Six Tips To Help You Lift Heavy

barbell
(Image credit: Unknown)

1. Drive Your Feet Into The Floor

When performing deadlifts or squats, making sure your feet are planted firmly on the floor is essential to getting a good lift – and the same is true when you’re benching.

Why it helps “Pushing your feet into the floor helps you activate your glutes and quads,” says PT Tom Wright (opens in new tab). “It also creates torque, allowing you to generate more force for a more powerful lift. Whether it’s for a deadlift or a bench press, proper foot placement can really give you the edge.”

2. Squeeze The Bar Really Hard

Gripping the bar with both hands and giving it a squeeze – as hard as you can – for a few seconds will help prepare your mind and muscles for the heavy lift ahead.

Why it helps “It’s similar to driving your feet into the floor. By squeezing the bar hard you activate your nervous system,” says Wright. “This creates a tightness response throughout the body and helps to recruit more muscles.”

3. Engage Your Core And Keep It Tight

When lifting heavy, you are only ever as strong as your weakest link. Once that breaks down you’ll not only fail to lift the bar, you also put yourself at a much higher risk of injury.

Why it helps “Core strength is true strength, because you’ll perform every lift better if you have a strong core,” says Wright. “Almost all compound movements transfer energy through the legs to the upper limbs via the core, so a breakdown in this chain can be costly for strength.”

4. Raise Your Chest And Keep It Up

This is true of almost every lift, because raising your chest and keeping it up helps maintain correct posture through every rep.

Why it helps “It requires the contraction of your back muscles - essential when doing heavy compound moves,” says Wright. “Locking your shoulder blades back and down creates a solid platform to work from on the bench, and an upright posture for all other lifts. It will also aid with your breathing and bracing.”

5. Control Your Breathing Better

For better cardio performance you need to breathe with your lungs. Better heavy lifting, though, means breathing from your belly.

Why it helps “By breathing into your belly and keeping your abs tight, you create internal tightness that equals heavier lifts – and a far lower risk of injury,” says Wright. “Hold your breath until near the end of the movement, reset and go again. You can expect to add 5-10% to your lifts by mastering this.”

6. Time Rest Periods To Perfection

To burn fat, rest periods must be short. To build muscle they need to be a little longer. But to build raw strength you need to get enough rest between sets to perform at your best.

Why it helps “Strength training uses a different energy system from cardio, and even hypertrophy,” says Wright. “It uses the short-duration ATP system that requires longer to replenish itself. Aim for three minutes of rest if you’re doing three reps or fewer.”

Coach is the place to come for all your health, fitness, and personal wellness needs.