None of these tips on their own will make a significant difference to increasing your big lifts — but follow all eight and you’ll boost them by 10kg.
1 Use your core
Brace your core to harness its power when lifting heavy. “A strong core and good posture allow the muscles in your pelvis, lower back, hips and abdomen to work as one single, powerful unit,” says trainer Lewis Thorneycroft (protegelondon.com).
2 Fuel your session
“For sustained energy and to avoid sugar crashes during your workout, eat well before a session,” says trainer Christian Vila (cvpt.co.uk). Eat a balanced meal equal in protein, carbs and healthy fats 90 minutes to two hours before hitting the gym.
3 Give it a rest
“The biggest mistake people make is not resting enough,” says trainer Dan Jayes (cre8studio.co.uk). “Heavy lifting requires three to five minutes between heavy sets for your nervous system to recover.”
“The biggest mistake people make is not resting enough between heavy sets. Your nervous system needs time to recover.”
4 Don’t hold your breath
“Taking a deep breath before lifting gives you extra stability and protection for your spine as it acts as a brace inside your torso,” says Thorneycroft. Don’t hold your breath, but don’t fully exhale either. “You should exhale like a slow leak in a high-pressure pipe.”
5 Stretch dynamically first
“Blast through sticking points by replicating the exercise with explosive movements,” says Jayes. Try plyometric push-ups before the bench press and box jumps before squats. “But don’t do static stretches before going for a PB,” says Vila. “Studies show they decrease power output by making the muscles relax and less capable of contracting.”
6 Give yourself a team talk
You may not be Winston Churchill when it comes to motivational speaking, but vocalising your aim — out loud or in your head — can help. “It helps give the brain and body clarity and focus, channelling all your energy and aggression into your goal,” says Jayes.
7 Use chalk
Heavy moves such as deadlifts are often let down by poor grip. Improve your hold on the bar by using chalk on your hands. “You can also improve grip by squeezing the bar harder,” says Thorneycroft. “More muscles will be recruited, helping you generate more power.”
8 Don’t tire yourself out
Prepare your muscles thoroughly before lifting heavy but don’t drain all your energy in the warm-up. “Do progressive sets but only a few reps of each,” says Jayes. Use this sequence: five reps at 65 percent of your working weight, three reps at 75 percent, two at 80 percent, one at 85 percent and a final one at 90 percent before going for a PB.