It’s easy to get swept away in the pursuit of piling more plates on the bar. It’s the biggest indicator of progress in the gym, the key ingredient to gaining and preserving muscle. But gritting your teeth and training as hard as you can makes for a high risk, low reward affair. Once the bar starts wobbling, swinging left and right, you’ll be unable to exert enough force to hit the weights you’re truly capable of. And there’s a growing chance that you get injured in the process.
So if there were only one thing you could master, it would be stability. Learn how to brace your body against the weight before the lift begins. By keeping that entrenched in your setup, you’d be able to move the bar with no deviation, from point A to point B, and then back. With a strong base behind it, the muscles will be able to contract harder. Better weight, better shape.
A good example of this would be a deadlift. Without enough bracing, you’d end up twisting and hunching to get the bar up. You might end up muscling the bar to the top, but the legs get barely worked, and back pain dogs you for a few days afterwards.
Now if you first made a point to pull as much air into the belly as possible, and engaged the lats before driving up from the ground, the lift becomes a lot more effective. Train smarter before stepping up the intensity and moving on to the bigger plates.
For a deeper dive into how technique drives your gains, head to my article.