“Its not the weight you lift, it’s how you lift the weight”
– Abraham Lincoln
Ego Lifting is the Donald Trump of weight training: abrasive, showy, ill-advised, of little substance, and appeals to the less discerning among us. Ego Lifting is the abandonment of form in order to complete a rep, allowing one to artificially put up bigger numbers.
Tip: If your plan is to put up 10 reps in a set, don’t put up 7 good ones and 3 garbage reps. Lower the weight, cry a little, and complete 10 proper reps. Staying in the intended rep range is what will allow you to see gains.
The biggest waste of time in the gym is the quarter squat. The point of a weighted deep squat is that its HARD. But when the average gym rat actually tries to go deep, they quickly realize they can no longer push the big weights that made them feel tough, so they just become avoided altogether. Not only are quarter squats bad for your knees, they’re ineffective at working your quads and don’t engage your posterior chain at all.
For a squat to be – a squat – the top of your pelvis must drop at least as low as the top of your knee. This is called a half squat, and its the bare minimum. What you really want is a full range of motion aka ass-to-grass. The only reason you should ever do a half squat is if A) you’re at a powerlifting competition or B) your hip/ankle/thoracic mobility is atrocious and you can’t physically go any deeper without your form collapsing. And if that’s the case, spend time working on mobility rather than continue performing half-assed (pun intended) squats. TLDR: quarter squat = NO GAINS.
This one should be obvious, but if you your back is rounding during a dead lift, you’re doing it wrong. If you have poor core strength and poor hamstring/glute activation, your back will round in order to get the job done. DO NOT ego lift your way to Snap City. Not only will you likely injure yourself in the near future, you are training the body to get good at using the wrong muscles. The dead lift is hamstring exercise, not a low back exercise. If you’re feeling pain in the low back after dead lifts, work on activation of the posterior chain and proper hip hinging with low weight Romanian deads.
The bench press is not a hip exercise, so why is your butt leaving the seat? Arching the back is fine, but when your butt leaves the seat, all you’re doing is changing the angle in order to recruit muscles that aren’t pectoralis major. Not only is lifting your glutes off the bench dangerous for your lumbar spine, you’re cheating yourself of actual gains when you don’t maintain your 5 points of contact. Extend your hips and tuck your feet under the bench so that your knees are over your feet – done properly, this should help with leg drive and keep your booty planted down.
Despite what your crossfit coach tells you, kipping is the single stupidest way to train for anything other than gymnastics. Kipping is the purposeful flopping around like a fish out water, using momentum from your lower body, to complete an upper body exercise like the dip or pull up. In this way, you make sure that you’re engaging the correct muscles as little as possible so that you can “complete” some arbitrary and obnoxious number of reps. If your goal is to injure your shoulder for no reason, do a lot of kipping pull ups.
Not as bad as kipping, swinging in a bicep curl, cable row, lat pulldown, or triceps pulldown accomplishes the same crossfit-approved goal of avoiding gains. The row is not a low back exercise and the tricep pulldown is not a shoulder exercise. Unlike a squat, adding more joints to these exercises has the effect of generating less muscle engagement, not more. Use your core to keep your body still. On a related note, people who swing during rows tend to not squeeze their lats at the end of the concentric motion. Always hold the squeeze in any pulling exercise.
This one I see a lot, even among more experienced lifters. Unless you are doing serratus pushups (and I’m confident that you’re not), your shoulders should never round forward in any resistance exercise. Protracting your shoulder during a row or press increases anterior humeral glide, which often leads to impingement problems, decreased internal rotation and other painful syndromes. Besides risk of injury, when you roll your shoulders forward during a press, the reason you are able to push more is because you’re recruiting your anterior deltoid – a muscle that is already overdeveloped in most of us Western cell-phone jockies. In a bench press, to get maximal engagement of the pecs and eliminate unwanted help from your delts, open your chest and keep your shoulders back and down the entire time.
Reverse Snap City
When performing an overhead press with heavy weight, lifters tend to compensate for waning strength by over-arching the back as the hips press forward. This allows some additional muscle recruitment (cheating) via the upper pecs. In the same manner as the butt-lift, this hyper-extension puts your back in a compromised position and increased risk of injury. To correct, screw your heels into the ground twisting outward as you engage your glutes and core. This will help keep your spine in a safe neutral position and ensure that the correct muscles are engaged.
I’ll keep it simple. Gains = time under tension. When you bounce the bar off your chest in a bench press, all you’re doing is giving your pecs time to rest when you should be pushing them. The momentum of the bounce will help you carry the bar up, but again, you’re only cheating yourself.
American Kettelbell Swings
These are dumb af. Never do them. Unlike a proper kettlebell swing in which you use hip-drive to thrust the weight in front of you, the American version has you engaging your shoulders to awkwardly raise the weight over your head because reasons. Since this is a common Crossfit exercise, I can only assume its purpose is to increase injury rate. KB swings are for glute activation and triple extension. Why tf are we getting the shoulders involved!?
No-Reason Leg Drive
This is another super common one. Instead of lifting appropriate weights, I constantly see bros performing standing shoulder raises, shrugs and presses with help from downtown. If its an upper body exercise (and you’re not specifically doing a Push Press while a in a strength phase), your legs should have zero movement. NO GAINS.