when to take weight off the bar

When To Take Weight Off The Bar

Starting Strength Coach Grant Broggi explains when it is a good idea to actually reduce the weight on the barbell when running the Starting Strength Novice Linear Progression. This is a clip from The Okay Podcast Episode 015.

The Importance of Proper Squat Technique and Coaching

Lifting weights and building strength is not just about piling on the plates; it's about executing each lift with proper form to maximize gains and minimize the risk of injury. This is particularly true for the squat, which is a fundamental exercise in strength training.

Importance of Proper Form

During a recent session, I had the opportunity to tune up a lifter's squat form. The most common mistake I encounter is the tendency for lifters to lift with their backs rather than driving with their hips. When the load gets heavy, the natural inclination is to stand up quickly by lifting the chest, which can compromise form and effectiveness.

The Role of Coaching

Coaching is crucial, especially in the early stages of strength training. While it's possible to make progress on your own, the guidance of a coach can provide you with the tools to perform lifts correctly and safely. A good coach will not only correct your form but also teach you the principles behind each movement, empowering you to eventually train independently with confidence.

Case Study: Adjusting Training Approach

I recently worked with a lifter who was pushing hard in her sessions, doing sets of five at her limit. Despite her effort, her form needed adjustment, particularly in achieving the correct depth and using her hips effectively out of the bottom of the squat. The solution was not to keep adding weight but to take a step back. We reduced her squat weight by 15 pounds to allow her to focus on mastering the form. This adjustment, though seemingly small, was significant relative to her body weight and overall lifting capacity.

Learning and Progressing

The advice to "drop the weight back down and learn correctly" might not be what every lifter wants to hear, especially when progress is measured by the weights on the bar. However, this approach is essential for long-term development in strength training. By reducing the weight, the lifter could concentrate on improving her technique without the pressure of heavy loads. This not only enhances the effectiveness of the training but also reduces the risk of injury.

The Value of Small Increments

Another piece of advice that was crucial for this lifter was to take smaller jumps in weight as she progressed. This strategy helps in continuously making progress while allowing the body to adapt to new stresses without overwhelming it. Small plates might be scoffed at by some, but they are an excellent tool for making sustainable progress.


Strength training is as much about learning and applying proper techniques as it is about lifting heavy weights. Investing time and effort in learning how to execute lifts correctly, preferably under the guidance of a qualified coach, lays a solid foundation for future gains. Remember, it's not just about lifting weights; it's about lifting them right.

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