BUILDING STRENGTH isn’t quite as simple as picking up something heavy and putting it down. And, unfortunately, there’s plenty of misinformation out there that could be sabotaging your efforts to become the Atlas you know you can be. (Yes, Atlas. Adonis just looked the part—Atlas was the real deal.) Don’t let yourself fall victim to these 10 strength-training myths.
1. You should always lift heavy
Of course if you want to get stronger, you need to put up some decent loads that you’ll only be able to handle relatively few reps. But just going up, up, up, won’t work (work, work) if you’re goal is to get a lot stronger. “Too much of the same exercise stimulus applied over an extended period of time leads to accommodation and plateaus—not more growth,” says Pete McCall, a San Diego-based strength coach and fitness educator. So include your heavy-lifting phase for six to 10 weeks every few months, but incorporate phases where you do bodyweight exercises, or drop your weight and increase reps. Voila, no plateau.
2. You should focus primarily on the exertion of a lift
“But isn’t strength my ability to exert?” you ask. While what they can bench or deadlift is what people brag about, it’s on the eccentric, or lowering/releasing, portion of a lift that your muscle control is really tested and your strength gains are made. “What’s misunderstood is that a muscle is able to exert much more force in the negative portion of a movement,” says Philadelphia-area personal trainer Brandon Mentore. If you’re flinging weights around you leave a lot of strength development potential on the table.” To that end…