This Article is About
momentum
heavy weights
muscle fibers
bench press
natural mechanism
muscle growth
barbell
bad idea
plateau
muscles
Momentum Is Never OK To Use
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Momentum Is Never OK To Use

Momentum is a big problem in the gym because it ultimately makes the weight easier to resist by taking away resistance. First, what is momentum? In short momentum is when we use a some kind of force(usually a swinging force) to assist our lifts in our reps. By doing this we use a force to assist the weights movement, meaning we take away from the resistance. Making the weight easier for us to lift and results in less muscle fibers being fired off. Meaning less stimulus on the muscle which could be preventing the overload we need to stimulate muscle growth.

Momentum happens as a natural movement, it is our body's natural compensation to lack of muscle/strength to resist against the given force. Simply put this is when we are too weak to move weight and so we compensate naturally by removing some of the weight through momentum. In the attempts to get stronger we need to put our muscles under work to stimulate them, so this makes momentum a very bad idea. So how do we avoid using momentum? The answer simply put is to correct form and use proper form. You will always lack in form if you are using momentum, especially if it involves you swinging with the weight.

There is a little more to proper form than just not using momentum, but that gets into properly performing the bio-mechanical movement of a muscle. However momentum is a big part, it kills form and ultimately kills the workout all together. This is because every time you go to overload the muscles with extra weight you let it do it's natural mechanism instead of resisting the weight and toughing it out you let it reduce the load. So you never actually let it get overloaded because you always remove the extra load by transferring it to momentum. This means you will plateau because you are not overloading the muscle.

I am going to use a barbell curl as an example. You may have seen someone in the gym with heavy weights trying to curl them and they swing their back backwards to help them rep. Or you may see someone on a bench press bouncing the bar off their chest to help them lift their next reps. In both cases they are using momentum to lessen the load they have to resist against. Their body is basically naturally compensating for the lack of muscle.

There are 2 different kinds 'momentum', their is one that happens mid-rep. This is when your lifting with good form but midway through your rep you use momentum. This does 2 things bad, first it takes load off the resistance and transfers it to momentum to lighten the load. Then it also changes the angles, changing the muscles used and muscle fibers that get fired off. The back can be arched so far that you start to take from the weight by transferring it to back muscles for supporting the lack of muscle. Often time in a barbell curl people will move their shoulders up to assist them, changing the range of motion, sometimes to a range that forces you to change angles and you end up using other muscles too. On the surface it does not look too bad, but broken down a chain of things happen that ultimately just prevent the muscle from being stimulated with an overload.

Many people hit plateaus because of this and cannot gain more muscle or it comes extremely slowly for the effort they put forth. This is because you are always taking weight off of your muscles by either using a force or by using other muscles to assist it. In every case the simple solution is to drop weight, to a weight you can lift with more control and use proper form. There are many reasons for a plateau however, this is only 1.


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