Stay Tight Enough on Your Lifts

Stay tight. Tighter than you would become if a thief tried to snatch away a loved one from your very arms. Trainees that have become very strong will innately know the vital importance of this concept.

Some sources promise that you can add 20% to your bench or squat by following a long list of tips. This is a gross exaggeration. Following these guidelines will not improve your strength by much but will allow you to stay safe and do your best.

Imagine trying to shoot a cannon from inside a canoe. This would make it tough to aim. The same concept applies to lifting weights, and you must brace the muscles outside the active ones to stay stable.

Staying stable…

  • keeps your joints in safe positions.
  • allows strength to express fully by directing most of your force in the right direction.

Follow these steps to stay tight on all your lifts.


  • Accentuate good posture.

Keep your chest up and shoulder blades back.

  • Maximize your base.

You must reinforce all your contact points. On the bench press, keep your shoulder blades together enough to feel firm against the bench. On the squat, use flat shoes to grab the floor with your feet.

  • Squeeze the bar tightly.

The tighter you squeeze the more tense the rest of your body will become. This can also protect the joints. For instance, on the bench press, squeeze a bit more tightly at the bottom of the range of motion to protect your shoulders.

  • Brace your core.

Squeeze your abs. Never suck in your stomach though. Hold your breath when the exercise feels especially tough.

  • Keep your concentration.

Focus on the task at hand and tune out other thoughts. Use auto-suggestion. This skill develops with practice and patience.

  • Move just fast enough.

If you drop the weight, you will lose the tightness and likely fail at the bottom of the range of motion for any exercise. You may also get horribly hurt and die, thus ending your training. Move as fast as possible while remaining stable.

  • Avoid too much time at the bottom.

The lowest part of the range of motion is a weak portion. This occurs because the sites for contraction reside too far apart. If you spend too much time here, you will lose your tightness. Fortunately your body has a mechanism to combat this. You store passive tension on the way down in the form of a stretch. If you smoothly but quickly come out of the bottom, you can use this tension to propel the weight back up. You will achieve a better performance.

  • Consider lowering your rep range.

Fatigue will affect your stabilizers and remaining tight gets difficult.

Stay Tight for Safety and Performance

These tips apply to every exercise, but remember that you need to strike a balance. Stay tight, but not so tight as to be wasteful with your energy and feel too rigid. Learning good form specific to each exercise will help further. Stay tight and get strong.

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