You see it every day in gyms: Guys and girls perfecting their form and execution for one exercise. They are able to crank out solid sets with heavy weight and confidence. Then they try a different exercise – one that exposes their weaknesses – and they stop, immediately going back to that familiar territory.
We’re all guilty of doing this at one point in time. Unfortunately, weaknesses don’t just go away. In fact, they can get worse and increase your risk for injury if left unchecked.
Let’s take a look at why and how you need to fix your weaknesses in weightlifting to improve your personal bests in powerlifting.
Benefits of Addressing Your Weaknesses
First things first, ditch the ego. You can’t be amazing in every lift simultaneously, but you can get pretty damn good at most lifts, especially those that directly affect the big three. Here’s why you need to address those weightlifting weaknesses:
Decreased Risk of Injury
Muscle weakness can cause muscle overcompensation. This is when a stronger muscle group picks up the slack for a weaker muscle.
One of the best examples is when the lower back and hamstrings compensate for weak glutes during a squat. The story of weak glutes usually ends with lower back pain or a pulled hamstring muscle.
Now think about your average powerlifting meet. You’re using weight loads that top out at one hundred percent of your one-repetition maximum. If you have several weak muscle groups, this is a recipe for disaster.
By focusing on your weak points and correcting them, you will decrease your risk of injury during your powerlifting workouts.
Overall Strength Increases
No surprise here but by correcting your weakness, you’ll notice a significant increase in your overall strength performance.
Using the example above, once you know how to properly engage and utilize your glutes, your squat will dramatically improve. But you’ll also notice that other exercises such as split squats, lunges, and step ups will get better.
It might take a few months but focusing on those weak points is going to be a game changer during your powerlifting workouts.
Level Up Your Balance, Mobility, and Posture
Continuing with the point above, you’ll enjoy the newfound strength from correcting strength imbalances, but you’ll notice an upgrade in other areas too.
Your balance and mobility can improve, especially when you address weaknesses related to your hip hinge.
Bad posture can be fixed or greatly alleviated by focusing on your rear deltoids, traps, and upper back musculature.
How to Correct Weightlifting Weaknesses
Here are suggestions on tips, tricks, and training methodologies for correcting weightlifting weaknesses and strength imbalances.
Find the Weaknesses
The obvious first step is to find your weak points, and the best way to do this is to move through common exercises and fitness tests.
We recommend attempting to perform the following exercises with light weight and having a spotter check your form.
- Bulgarian split squat
- Side lunge
- Single-leg bridge
- Barbell row
- Military press
- Hanging leg lifts
- Extended hold oblique crunches
Keep track of how much you were able to comfortably lift, mistakes that were made, and your overall feeling during the exercise. For example, did you feel out of your element? Or was this an exercise that you could easily add into your program with no issues?
Over the course of several days or a week, put yourself through fitness tests that will immediately expose any weak points you have. Check out our list of fitness tests.
Once you’ve established where your weak points are, you can consider the following methods of training to improve your weaknesses.
This type of training cycles through different acute variables based on a fitness-based outcome.
Beginning with an endurance-focused week – high reps, low weight – you will move through hypertrophy, strength, and power weeks. Once you get through this month of training, you’ll start over with endurance.
Learn more how to use periodization to improve your powerlifting workouts.
Pair opposing body parts during your normal workouts. This works best when you focus on a secondary muscle group and not a prime mover.
For example, if you are focusing on squats, after each set of squats, you’ll complete a set of rear deltoid flys. Some common pairings include:
- Chest and calves
- Back and abs or obliques
- Quadriceps and triceps or rear deltoids
- Hamstrings and biceps or lateral deltoids
Use Exercises to Improve Your Squat
Consider using periodization training and pairing it with exercises that can improve your squat.
To improve your squat, you’ll want to add variations to the normal quadricep exercises.
You’ll also want to focus on your overall core including the hip flexors and glutes. Here are some exercises to start using outside of meets to improve your squat:
- Bulgarian Split Squats
- Sumo Squats
- Glute Bridge
- Hip Thruster
- Good mornings
Use Specific Exercises to Improve Your Deadlift
To improve your deadlift, you will want to focus on the surrounding musculature that can easily get neglected such as your calves, hip flexors, and core. Try these exercises:
- Hip Thruster
- Calf raises
- Side leg lifts
- Hip adduction
- Hip abduction
Exercises to Improve Your Bench Press
It might seem counterintuitive but if you want to increase your bench press, you should focus on the antagonist muscle groups. These muscles help to stabilize and support strength performance. Incorporate some of the following into your normal workouts:
- Military press
- Lateral raises
- Rear deltoid flys
Are You Focused on Fixing Your Weaknesses in Weightlifting?
What is your weak point during a weightlifting workout? What’s your plan to fix it? Tell us about it on our Facebook.