This past week in the gym, I had a “moment of truth.” It was during the sumo deadlift exercise. I was doing strength training and was on my heaviest set: 1-3 reps at 235 lbs. I was sure I could get at least one rep…..and I did……..sorta. I mean, I could have counted the rep if form didn’t matter to me, but form does matter to me…..so I had to make a judgment call and say it didn’t count. It all came down to form. I got the bar up and stood up, but I had to sacrifice my core stability and I rounded my back to do it. I didn’t mean to perform the lift that way. It just happened because the weight was too heavy to lift correctly. After that horrible first rep, I immediately stopped and realized that I had fallen prey to the dreadful “ego-lifting.”
**Cue the music “dunn dunn duuuuuuuunnnnn.”**
I define “ego-lifting” as the point where you have to sacrifice good form during a lift with weight that is too heavy in order to impress yourself and/or others. Whether it be more weight plates on the bar than you can handle or trying to curl a dumbbell that is too heavy, if your form is incorrect, than the rep should not count. Someone who is ego-lifting doesn’t care and will continue to lift with bad form. In some cases it can be dangerous. Let me give an example of a dangerous ego-lift.
A Dangerous Case – I’ll use the deadlift as an example. Ego-lifting with the deadlift can prove to be very dangerous for your lower back. If you approach it with too much weight on the bar that you cannot handle, it will lead to not embracing your core, not bending your legs, and not hinging your hips. Your body will attempt to compensate for the heavy load by using your lower back. Over time, this will lead to serious injury for your lower back. If your form begins like this, it’s an ego-lift:
Instead, start with correct form by keeping your back straight by bending your legs, keeping your chest out (not rounding your shoulders), and keeping your hips hinged with your butt pointing toward the back wall. It will look like this:
To bring it all back to my reality moment with the sumo deadlift this week, I decided to stop the lift after the first incorrect rep and drop the weight down. I took some plates off of the bar and did the set again with correct form. It was an ego-buster, but at least I know I won’t put my body through unnecessary and dangerous stress that will result in injury. When it comes to weight training, safety should always be first. There are many other examples of ego-lifting. If you have more examples, feel free to share them in the comment section. I will probably come back to this subject in the future to share bad form for other exercises and the good form for the exercise. Everyone that does weight training will come to a point in their life where they are confronted with ego-lifting. The question is, will you continue with it or will you do the right thing and bust that ego with correct form and safety first?
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