The Art of Lifting | Erin Stern

April 12, 2016

One of my favorite things about lifting weights is the ability it gives us to shape and sculpt our physiques. The results are lasting, and we’re able to carry our work with us wherever we go. Many different training methods and styles will allow for overall muscle growth, so I think athletes from all backgrounds can enjoy the benefits of weight training. But, when it comes to the final details; the fullness in the shoulders, the curve of the quad sweep, and the “pop” of the rear delts; slow, deliberate training with moderate weight is my preferred method of lifting!

I often compare building a physique to sculpting art from clay. In both scenarios, the lifter and the artist must begin with the end in mind. By visualizing your ideal physique, each rep takes on purpose and meaning. Visualization also helps with awareness. Small changes in range of motion, grip placement, and stance can drastically change the focus of the stress on different parts of the muscle.

Just like the sculptor with a chisel, training for aesthetics is slow and controlled. Take time with each rep, focusing all energy on the concentric and eccentric portion of the lift. At first, try to sculpt the muscles you can see easily. These include biceps, delts, chest, and quads. Then, perfect your mind-muscle connection on the muscles you can’t see readily. Many lifters focus on “mirror muscles,” or the ones they can easily see to train, but don’t spend as much time on the lats, glutes, and hamstrings. The sculptor shapes art in 360 degrees, the art of lifting should be the same.

The final piece of artwork is balanced and complete. Unilateral training, and being mindful of training both sides evenly will ensure that the physique is complete. If a muscle group is lagging, train it first and train it often. Most of the time, the muscle lags behind because the lifter dislikes working on it. Be objective about your physique, and strive to balance it. Not only will this help in aesthetics, but it will help with overall health and injury prevention.

The last few reps are key to creating improvement in the physique. Focus and push through, without using momentum, and without recruiting other muscle groups. I love taking BetaTOR because it helps me get those last couple of reps. This equates to an increase in overall training volume, which leads to better results!

Thanks for reading! Until next time, train hard y’all and sculpt that masterpiece!

- Erin Stern, 2x Ms. Olympia

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