Diminishing Returns

I’m always suspicious when I see someone loading up a lift with more weight than I use. It’s not that my lifts are unbeatable, or even that impressive. What I do know with certainty is what’s possible for someone with my athletic ability (average) and my level of conditioning (excellent); and therefore, the bright line across which proper form collapses and injuries proliferate.

So I see this doofus at the gym today load two 45 lb plates at a time onto each side of the hack squat machine.1 Then, crossing the line, he slid another 25 lbs onto each rod.

In truth, this guy moved the weight through a much larger range of motion than I expected. He began the lift by letting his legs go nearly limp, smashing the sled against the bottom of the track and bouncing halfway up, then re-engaging his thighs to finish each rep.

Imagine the actual progress he could have made by cutting his weight in half, and bending his legs in a slow, controlled fashion.


1 Some old school gyms have a few 100 lb plates lying around. I’ve used them a couple times trying to look cool, and have nearly broken my back trying to maneuver the massive plate onto a shoulder-high leg press carriage. I can’t imagine creating such an unwieldy arrangement by choice.

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