Squeeze And Focus For More Muscle?
You need both.
Progressive Overload With Perfect Form
Sure, this’ll give you a nice burn, and you’ll probably have a decent pump too. But you’ll be using minimal weight, and your room for progression will be minimal.
Instead, you need a combination, and you need to play the movie of your set from both an internal and external perspective.
If your goal is bigger quads, and you’re on a hack squat machine, you should be taking this approach:
1. External (how the set looks from the outside): you need to be thinking about completing all the reps, setting records, and being able to move the weight from A to B.
It’s easy to keep adding weight to the bar and thinking you’re achieving progressive overload, when all you’re doing is changing your technique and standards of form.
It’s easy to keep squeezing with all the right intention, and never being able to progress over time.
What’s hard is moving a weight from A to B with a performance mindset, while at the same time keeping all the load, intention and focus on the muscle targeted.
Finding Your Internal vs. External Balance
You want to get bigger and stronger overall, so your focus should be on progressive overload while maintaining perfect form at all times.
As you get a little more experienced, and you’ve learnt the technique behind your lifts, this is when it’s time to shift the balance right down the middle.
For your compound lifts, you want to keep an eye on your performance, but never at the expense of form or losing your mind muscle connection.
An example is with my Romanian deadlift, which is an exercise many struggle to feel, especially as you get heavy.
It’s the perfect example of an exercise which should be trained with a balance of performance and feel, but is only ever done with the mindset of going from A to B.
Done correctly, you should be able to be very progressive with it, but should also be left with crippled hamstrings the next day.
The key is finding this balance is two-step approach:
- Milking the weight
- Making slow and small progressions
For these exercises, your sole focus should be on internalising your thought process as much as possible.
If you’re doing a set of biceps curls, you want to put your whole mind into the muscle, and focus on flexing against the dumbbells.
Going from A to B shouldn’t be in your thought process, and will only serve to negate the benefits of isolation exercises.