Weight Lifting Tips -- How to Perform Reps

The most important weight lifting tips concern warming-up correctly and performing reps perfectly.

Here we show you how to perform reps perfectly. On another page we describe how to warm-up correctly.

(Its link is listed about halfway down this page.)

If you have read that page, please continue.

Of all these tips, none are more important than correctly warming up and understanding exactly how to perform a rep correctly before doing it.

Attention to detail is one of our weight lifting tips

If you understand what you are doing and are always alert, you won't get hurt.

We strongly suggest that you use one of the McRobert books (listed below) to learn or double-check your technique for specific exercises.

When first learning a movement, please take your time.

Pay attention to little details like hand-spacing and how far from your torso your elbows should be.

Such details make a lot of difference, which you'll learn the hard way if you ignore them.

Perfect reps is another of our weight lifting tips

Ensure that you understand exactly how to perform an exercise before starting and then use perfect technique on each rep. To avoid injury, it is critical to perform each rep smoothly and without momentum.

If you ever find yourself twisting, bouncing, swinging, squirming, or distorting your body in unusual ways, please stop immediately! You are not strength training effectively. The load you are using is too heavy. Lighten up, and then continue.

There is a temptation during strength training to lower weights quickly. Resist that temptation. Control descents. The negative portion of a rep should also provide a training stimulus.

It is critical to warm up correctly and understand exactly how to perform a rep perfectly before doing it. Again, please use one of the McRobert books to learn or double-check your technique for specific exercises.

When first learning a movement,take your time. Pay attention to little details like hand-spacing and how far from your torso your elbows should be. Such details make a lot of difference, which you'll learn the hard way if you ignore them. When performing a rep, pay attention only to what you are doing.

Focus. Think of the target muscle filling with blood. Imagine it getting much larger and stronger. Try to "see" the tendons becoming thicker and even more powerful. In other words, make full use your mind for strength training effectively.

In general, for both upper and lower body exercises, keep your lower back in a naturally concave posture. Everyone knows that good posture is important in daily life. One of the most critically important tips is always to maintain excellent posture during weight training.

What about failure?

Should you train until you fail on your last rep, or should you stop one rep short of failure? Which method is better for strength training effectively?

On squats and deadlifts, always keep one rep in you.

Never train to failure on squats and deadlifts. If you do, you may compromise your form and hurt yourself. Instead, train as hard as possible on them without hitting positive failure. (This is one of the most important tips for squats and deadlifts.)

On all other exercises except squats and deadlifts, it is solely up to you whether you train to failure or not. There is no consensus among experts on this issue about strength training effectively. It's really a matter of psychology, not physiology.

Some experts hate to practice failure, which is what they think of themselves as doing if they routinely train to failure. As long as they are working a bit more intensely each training session, they understand that they are making progress. One of the important weight lifting tips from this point of view is making frequent progress.

Others, however, point out that it's impossible to know when failure will occur without failing. We tend to think that we can do less than we can actually do. It's often easier in life if we are in bad faith with ourselves, if we lie to ourselves. Without hitting failure, these masters remain unsure whether they've trained with sufficient intensity.

So, from this point of view, training to failure is one of their important weight lifting tips.

Bottom line on this issue? Experiment to decide which way works best for you. At least occasionally, there's nothing wrong with failure; it's how we learn.

What about always using a full range of motion? That's fine for beginners, but it's not one of the weight lifting tips we endorse.

For many years, I (Dennis) always stuck slavishly to the idea of using a full range of motion. After all, a "partial" rep seemed like cheating! This was, I confess, one of my most cherished weight lifting tips. Unfortunately, it wasn't correct. The truth is that a full range of motion is easier than staying in the sweet spot. It took me a long time to admit that to myself.

I tend to be physically lazy. I am strong enough, but I've no doubt that I would be even stronger if I'd trained more intensely over the years.

I encourage you to learn from my mistake.

If you are a beginner with less than three or six months of training under your belt, it's fine to stick to a full range of motion. Because of your rapidly improving neuromuscular system, you'll be able to increase your training loads regularly.

There are plenty of weight lifting tips for you to learn and follow; you have many exercises to perfect and many habits to establish.

On the other hand, if you have been training for at least six months, you have probably realized that sticking to a full range of motion means that there's a lot of nonproductive motion during an exercise.

Just do your workouts and enjoy your progress

Here is another of our weight lifting tips: When doing a standing barbell curl, once the bar exceeds about a 45 degree angle of your forearms in front of your chest pulling it the rest of the way in towards your clavicles doesn't stress your biceps at all, does it?

This is why it's important not to confuse perfect form with full range of motion. In terms of stressing one's muscles, it's possible to perform an exercise with perfect form and without a full range of motion. In fact, it's desirable. With respect to warm-up sets, I suggest using a full range of motion half the time.

See the weight lifting tips, part 1, page:

Weight Lifting Tips (Part 1)

However, even just on warm-up sets I also suggest not using a full range of motion the other half of the time.

Instead of using the words "partials" or "partial reps", which may suggest cheating by doing only part of the work, let's use "power pulses.

Think of doing a squat or a standing barbell curl. If you've ever done any, it's obvious that different places along the exercise's stroke are harder or easier.

(To even out the force required during a stroke is, incidentally, why Arthur Jones designed his Nautilus machines with cams.)

The most important part of the stroke is where the exercise is most difficult.

What this means is that it's important to overload the max-force area of an exercise's stroke. What is critical for building lean muscle mass efficiently? It's overloading the max-force area, the sweet spot of the range.

Usually, the max-force area is when a muscle is not fully stretched but when it is semi-stretched, not far from being fully stretched. It's away from the area of the stroke where the muscle is fully contracted.

For example, in a standing barbell curl, the biceps are fully stretched when the elbows are straight and the bar is at its lowest position, and the biceps are fully contracted when the bar is at its highest position.

The critical max-force area is where the biceps are semi-stretched, which is the sweet spot of the whole stroke. Its bottom is from about half a foot up from the fully stretched position until a little before the forearms are parallel to the ground, i.e., just below the mid-point of the full range of motion.

This is typical, incidentally. Usually the sweet spot is just below the halfway point of the range of motion.

It's the bottom half of the stroke that is critical.

(If you want to see this in action, watch a video of Ronnie Coleman training. [He was Mr. Olympia from 1998-2005.] Typically, except on a few exercises such as deadlifts, he never uses a full range of motion; instead, he uses heavy power pulses. On nearly every exercise, he overloads the sweet spot and ignores the top part of the range of motion.)

If you perform your reps this way, you will quickly appreciate a critical advantage of ignoring the top part of the range of motion, namely, occlusion.

During the exercise, the target muscle doesn't get a rest.

The continual tension produced blocks blood flow to the muscle.

This means that training with power pulses is more difficult (harder, more intense) than using a full range of motion. It's also more beneficial in terms of generating strength. More strength means more lean muscle mass.

More lean muscle mass means more calories burned 24 hours a day. Of course more difficult training will be more effective than less difficult training! This is the real world. :-)

There's no issue here: occlusion training yields more size and strength dividends than full range of motion training. You can read the studies for yourself, or, better, convince yourself in the gym.

Once you begin training with heavy power pulses, except perhaps for an occasional change of pace, there's no reason ever to go back. If you are an intermediate trainee or a beginner with at least six months of serious training behind you, why not switch to a more productive method of training?

For more weight lifting tips, please read the weight lifting tips, part 1, page, if you have not already done so.

That page was mention above.

You can also find it on the site map, which is listed at the bottom of the menu buttons to the left of this page.

Pages in the strength, weight training section

OK, now that you have the weight lifting tips and understand how to warm-up correctly and how to perform reps perfectly, have a look at protein shakes to maximize the benefits from your training. You will be given that link shortly.

In this the strength/weight training section of our website we have the following pages:

  • 1. Strength/Weight Training (main page)
  • 2. Strength Training Orientation
  • 3. Weightlifting Exercises
  • 4. Weightlifting Program Beginners
  • 5. Weightlifting Tips, Part 1
  • 6. Weightlifting Tips, Part 2
  • 7. Exercising Safely
  • 8. Workout Protein Shakes
  • 9. Weightlifting Routines Intermediates

You will find the direct links to those pages on our site map/index, which is listed at the bottom of the menu/navigation page, to the left of this page.

Meanwhile, here are two of those links:

Protein Shakes

Weightlifting Routines Intermediates

Alternatively, use the link, at the very bottom of this page, to visit the Strength Training main page, which is the first page in this section of our website.

Recommended books for weight lifting tips

If you gained useful information from this weight lifting tips page, and want to improve your knowledge and understand further the following books are highly recommended.

These are our top suggestions:


  • Wendler, 5/3/1

The above books are in stock at Amazon.com (for the USA) and Amazon.co.uk (for the UK)

Range-of-motion triple add sets squats - killer quad workout

Instead of adding additional poundage to squats, here's a way to use range of motion for the same purpose. Try them! They'll give you an excellent squat workout.

Link to the YouTube video above, for those who might want to save it for their YouTube video list

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