First off, I apologize for not posting last week.  My baby started pre-k last week and getting into the new routine was a bit more challenging than I thought it would be.   This week, I will be discussing another controversial topic.  Yay!  (I consider it educating people.)

I’m sure there are people that live by the statement of “go heavy on your weights or don’t bother.”  I participated in a group class this morning and was told to “load up to burn more calories” and “I would prefer that you not finish the last couple reps than get to the end and feel nothing.”  My mind processed this as a challenge (why would I want to stop before we are done? I need to keep up!).  There was talk of bracing the core (no instruction on how to go about this or why) but it seemed more important to have heavy weights.  At one point the instructor switched out someone’s weights because they were too heavy, but no explanation to the participant of why she needed less weight.  I decreased my weight load at one point because I started recruiting the wrong muscles and I wasn’t able to control the movement.  I know this stuff because I’ve educated myself to know correct muscle recruitment but the lady that simply had her weights removed from her hands and given less weight, had zero instruction.  I have watched other instructors teach the same class and have too much weight.  How do I know this, they are not in control (rocking all over the place) of the weight using the correct muscles.  This leads to INJURIES!  And instead of the instructor stopping to change her weight, she keeps going.  This is not a matter of being critical of the instructors, rather the program and training of the instructors.

As an educated, trainer, and Pilates instructor (which focuses on correct muscle recruitment and proper form) I have a responsibility to not watch quietly.  I teach a small class of strong men that choose heavy weight but form is compromised.  I am consistently correcting form and telling them if they can’t maintain the form at that weight, they need to change it.  Of course they are hesitant at first but they see how much more difficult an exercise can be with correct form, they will either slow down the reps (taking breaks) or change the weight.  The class is a timed circuit, so they can do the exercises at their own pace instead of doing a million reps with bad form and at a pace that is too fast.

Back to my experience today, I felt like I had to keep up with the pace of the instructor.  I had a hard time maintaining proper form with the heavy weight.  I took breaks to reset when I noticed the wrong muscles starting to work.  When I took my break or switched weights, I felt weird, no one else was changing their weights or taking a break, but they were also lacking control and form.  The instructor continued to instruct correct form but no one changed form because the weight was too much.  So, what good does it do, to exercise with heavy weights and bad form?!  It doesn’t do anything good!  Instead it is training muscles incorrectly, causing muscle imbalances, and eventually causing injury.

To answer the question, is heavy weight okay?  It depends!  Ask yourself…Can I maintain proper form?  If I start to lose proper form, am I willing to slow down, take a break, or decrease my weight?  Do you know proper form and muscle recruitment?  If you can answer “yes” to those questions, then,  sure, go for the heavier weights but keep the lower weight near by.  Don’t hesitate to check the mirrors for proper form!  It is true that we need to challenge our body to see results and not plateau but we need to do it safely.  Progressive overload is safe.  Meaning, if the weight starts to get easy, increase just enough to overload (it doesn’t take much).  You will see results, without injury, which forces people to stop exercising until they have healed.  Why take the chance of injury set backs for weight that is TOO heavy?

If you would like to learn about proper form and recruitment, join me for a Pilates session.  I’m happy to help you learn about your body.  Everyone is different and progresses differently.  Allow your mind to connect with your body. And give yourself permission to be different than your neighbor, because you are!