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OK, so, the gym I go to has standard weight plates, from 5KG to 25KG going up in 5KG increments...the other day, I was front squatting, I wanted to go up a little, but realised I can't go up in 1KG increments so I had to add 5KG, I found that my trunk gave in a little.

My question is when attempting to get stronger is what I had to do OK? like my form had discrepancies when trying to lift the heavier weight, to be honest I think even if I had only added 1KG, my form would have suffered.

how bad is what did? is it recommended when trying to get stronger?

  • Your 1rm, or at least mine, always has worse form than a 5rm, so there's that. Buy some fractional plates. I lug chalk, bands, fractional plates, and my jump rope to any gym. – Eric May 14 '15 at 14:29
  • @EricKaufman haha thank you... I definitely lug my skipping rope, didn't think I would have to do it with plates too...oh well. – user2405469 May 14 '15 at 14:38
  • It seems a little nuts but eventually you need to have fractionals. You can look insane and load up multiple collars as a backup. It's particularly hilarious. Chains work too, but then you have the noise and weight change (heavier the higher you go). – Eric May 14 '15 at 14:42
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The Problem

5kg is waaaaaay too much to add in a single jump for most lifts for most people after the very beginner stages. It's appropriate sometimes, but many times it's too significant an increase to be ready for the higher weight with good form.

Some Solutions

  • Fractional or otherwise smaller plates. Two 2.5kg plates should not be the smallest thing around. Buy, find, or make smaller pairs of plates: 1kg at least, 0.5kg is a good idea, and even 0.25kg for some lifts (e.g. the overhead press).
  • Achieve higher reps with the current weight before adding weight and aiming for fewer reps. If I was forced to do 5kg jumps, then for a lot of lifts I would do sets of five, then six, then seven, then eight, then add 5kg and go for a set of three or four or five. I wouldn't just do one workout with sets of five with 25kg and then just jump to sets of 5 with 30kg unless I was new to the lift and making fast easy progress.
  • Stay at the same weight and reps until it's easy. It can also work to just keep doing the same weight for the same number of reps, but aim for reps with better form. Aim to be able to do those reps fast (proving the weight is not maximal) as well as slow (proving you have total control over it) and maybe even with pauses (to prove you aren't using momentum to get past the hard parts). Maybe my first time squatting 60kg for five it was slow, my form was iffy, and I had to rest for several minutes between sets, but once I can squat 60kg five times for five sets in a row with only one minute rest and every rep is clean and fast, then I'd feel ready to switch to 65kg. I'd expect my speed and form to degrade, of course, but as long as my form is within the bounds of safety then I wouldn't worry.

How Much Bad Form Is OK?

There are perfect reps and there are good reps. There are iffy reps and there are bad reps. Good form leaves a buffer zone, where you're so on-point, everything braced and in precisely the position it should be with strength and mobility and speed to spare. That way, when you need to challenge yourself with more weight or more reps or even just a bad workout day, you can afford to not check every box of your best effort.

In other words, there's a difference between "that rep was not perfect" and "that rep was dangerous".

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