When you are doing a set of reps, simply put, do not consider yourself done until you are truly done, and the weights or bands or your mileage goal on the treadmill are truly reached.
There’s so much to be said for the last 10% of a given portion of your workout. If you are focusing on strength building, understand that your muscles do not grow until your current muscles truly break down and rebuild on an ongoing basis and that only happens if those specific muscles are worked to that point. If you are focusing on losing fat, it is the last 10% of your fatigued cardio workout where shaping begins to happen.
What happens sometimes is that a person starts out strong during a set, reaches a point of fatigue (particularly during the last 5-10 minutes of their workout regiment) and gives in to weaker reps. It’s at that point— the place where you feel you have reached your previous goal— where the weaker reps tend to happen. I mean, why not? You are tired and you have done what you previously have been able to accomplish and you are down to the last few minutes on the clock.
This is problematic for several reasons.
At the most basic level, if your joints get more lax during heavy lifting you have a higher propensity for foregoing good form. You make those last three reps less focused, and you risk joint issues or further injury. But even if you avoid that obstacle, understand that the actual building of muscle takes place when muscles are worked and any reps that you fail on that specific point– if the correct groupings of muscles are not actually flexed, if you are conducting reps utilizing other groups of muscles— than you are not focusing on the actual goal you set out to accomplish in the first place.
Imagine this: You set out to focus on building shoulders, back, and triceps on a given workout day. If you end up utilizing your legs or, even worse, your lower back, to conduct those last reps, than not only are those wasted reps focusing on other areas but you could experience health risks or worse by involving muscle groups that are not properly calibrated for the type of lifting you are doing.
It’s always important to mentally orient yourself for a set with a specific goal in mind: “I need to do 10-12 reps of these SPECIFICALLY focusing on utilizing these muscles. I need to get through rep 10, at least, with as much control as I had at rep 1.” A set is a set. It is not a half set with good form, and then some other junk just to fill in time.
It is important you are appropriately pushed and always, safety is key. But even if you are an accomplished gym member who handles safety protocol appropriately, it is worth asking, “Are you getting the most out of your workout?” If you need any help, any fine tuning, reach out for a free consultation to ensure that you are maximizing your time in terms of physical fitness.