Those of us who know what we’re doing in the gym face a daily struggle in our heads. Here we are on the bench press, using 225 for strict, controlled reps, squeezing our pecs hard at the top and lowering for a slow negative to stimulate the maximum amount of muscle fibers in order to grow. Over on the next bench is Joe Tough Guy with 315. Joe has his back arched high. He uses a half range of motion and lets the bar drop like a bomb through the negative. And his training partner is lifting half the weight for him. You know you’re working your chest far more efficiently, yet you still feel like a weakling. The same thing happens on squats, when you go all the way down with 315 while Joe does a little four-inch dip with 405, screaming to draw further attention to his heroic achievement. You know Joe is an idiot, but you worry that the other guys in the gym respect him simply for being able to move more iron, regardless of form.
That’s a dangerous frame of mind because it might tempt you to start using more weight and compromise your own form just to show that jerk who’s boss. Letting your pride and ego sway you from proper technique can be a slippery slope. It has claimed many a promising lifter and forever damned them to mediocre physiques.
Don’t worry about the monster weights anyone else lifts, and never give up the form you know is right just to try to impress people in the gym. Remember, you’ll be walking down the beach this summer. Would you rather have people say, ‘Wow, you’re really built!’ or have to tell them, ‘I’m not very well developed, but you should see the crazy weights I can lift!’? Leave the stupid weights and crappy form for the idiots who don’t know any better.