How can I lift heavy with zero risk?
Heavy weightlifting can be problematic for guys in their 30s and 40s. Tight pecs, rotator cuff issues, lower-back pain and hip and knee injuries are common – and can be easily aggravated. To help, I devised the Built 2 Last system to allow trainees to get stronger, add muscle and even become leaner.
Before starting, though, spend ten minutes doing mobility work, along with activation work for your back [see the box, right]. Warm up to lift – don’t lift to warm up.
I recommend two upper-body sessions per week with one lower-body one in between. Each workout starts with one main lift, supersetted with a high-volume low-intensity exercise to work opposing muscles. This is followed by a strength capacity circuit of three to five exercises with relatively heavy weights for low reps to build strength while getting a cardio boost.
A typical main lift for the first upper-body session would be a close-grip bench press, supersetted for four sets of four with an isometric upper back hold, with two minutes’ rest between sets. Start at 70% of your one-rep max and work up to 85% over the following weeks. Twin it with a YWT (where you lie face down with your arms off the ground in Y, W and T positions for 30 seconds each) to strengthen your upper back. For the strength capacity circuit, group a weighted press-up with a row variation, a lateral raise variation and a plank.
For the lower-body workout, pick a unilateral exercise such as a rear foot elevated barbell split squat for the main lift. Superset it with a compound lift such as a squat or deadlift, lifting between 50% and 60% of your one-rep max. Because you’ve already fatigued your legs individually, the weight you can lift in the squat or deadlift is limited, reducing joint pressure. For the strength capacity circuit, group a barbell hip thrust with a calf raise and a core move such as a dumbbell side bend.
For the final upper-body session, use a shoulder or chest dumbbell press for the main lift. Superset it with a highvolume upper-back exercise such as a single-arm lat pulldown, followed by another strength capacity circuit.
By working on mobility in your warm-ups and structuring workouts to reduce strain on your joints, you’ll get stronger without getting injured and improve your movement and posture in everyday life. Get the Built 2 Last e-book at defrancotraining.com/shop