Lifting heavy brings with it a whole different set of issues that you don't normally get from bodybuilding routines. I have learned a lot about how my body responds to heavy lifting over the years. It has taught me how lifting heavy should change my routine.
Heavy Lifting Program
One of the best programs that I know of for lifting very heavy is Max-OT. It is a program promoted by National Champion Skip LaCour and focuses the user on lifting as heavy as they can. The objective in Max-OT on each set is to lift a weight you can get at least 4 reps out of and no more than 6 reps. Each set is taken to positive failure. By pushing your muscles in this way they grow from the stress they are put under. As printed, the Max-OT program has you on a split that includes 5 straight training days followed by 2 straight rest days. This, to me, is the only weakness of the program.
I have learned that lifting heavy takes a major toll on your joints and ligaments. If you push too hard for too long, you run the risk of severe injury. This is why rest days become extremely important. As I stated above, the only weakness I see in the Max-OT program is the fact that it wants you to lift 5 days straight and then get 2 days of rest. To me, especially at my age (47) that is just too much heavy lifting in a row. As a result, I've changed the program slightly. I lift 2 days, then I take a rest day. I then lift 3 days and take another rest day. I wind up lifting the same number of days and resting the same number of days, but I find that on Day 4 (after my first rest day) I am much stronger and ready to attack those weights.
I believe in foam rolling and when lifting heavy, it becomes even more important. Your joints and muscles get very tight and sore from the heavy lifting. By foam rolling you are releasing the adhesions that develop and avoid injury. It becomes a major part of the recovery process. You benefit in many different ways including:
- Faster recovery
- Better flexibility
- Less injuries
I always foam roll once a day, but when I'm on a heavy lifting cycle I foam roll in the morning and the evening before bed. This is something that you definitely want to change in your routine if you are not already doing it.
Lifting this heavy means extending your rest periods between sets just a bit more. While the recommendation is 2 to 3 minutes, I honestly believe it is better if you aim for 90 seconds. The only exception I make is for arms. I give those a bit more recovery time because, for some reason, my recovery on arms takes longer. Figure out what works for your body and then go with it. Your body will tell you what you need.
Increase the Intensity
Lifting heavy is going to require a lot of intensity. This is more of a mental thing than a physical thing in my opinion. Most of us are capable of way more than we give during a workout. The ability to be intense is going to come from your mental outlook. For instance, yesterday I had an arm training day. I was watching sweat drip down my legs. That's right! Sweat was dripping down my legs. That is because I was pushing my arms so hard that I heated up tremendously. The intensity was great and I was able to have an incredible arm training.
You are going to need to eat enough when you are training heavy. Watch your energy and how you feel after a workout. Your body needs fuel to get through the intense training. Give it what it wants! Up your protein intake. Eat enough carbs pre and post training. Don't miss meals when training heavy. If you do this, you will see growth.