Lifting form

Lifting Form changes: How it can make you weaker

Changing your lifting form and approach can make you weaker

When pursuing ultimate strength, I tell it like it is in this article about the truth of lifting form changes. Not everything is easy, and you may need different levels of effort to take your lifting to the next level. Think of this as a body of work and not a short-term goal.

Minor lifting form changes

Minor form changes can be quick fixes and sometimes seem even magical. Whether correcting a little bit of lean in the squat, adjusting the feet during the bench press, or setting the hips slightly different during a deadlift, hacks like this can be a game-changer.

Major lifting form changes

While minor form changes can be accessible to implement and progress, sometimes the more complicated tweaks can take many sessions to master. Taking weeks to months to dial in a lift after some significant changes can be very discouraging. Remember, it takes time to create new ‘engrams’ when lifting. An engram is a default motor pattern that takes time to either program or change to a new, more efficient one in your brain.

You will get weaker when addressing your lifting form

“What? I’ll get weaker?” Well, in some cases, yes, you will. The lift won’t feel very good. Sometimes the adage of ‘1 step back and two steps forward is appropriate.’ If everything were linear, we would all be benching 800lbs raw and all-time WR holders, but we know this is not the case. You must understand that it takes time to master the lifts. And, even when you feel you master them, you still have NOT arrived.

The solution to finding the perfect lifting form

Not only taking your time and finding which form tweaks work for you but also implementing these changes with lightweight. I suggest 50% or less when dialing in the form. Otherwise, you WILL default to your old ways as the weight makes you go to “survival mode.”

Long term thinking about lifting form

So, when you see your favorite coach and find yourself lost, feeling like the form feels worse than ever, remember to give it months of effort, not weeks or days. Sometimes, the form will take months to feel more natural and stronger.

Wisdom from Dr. McGill 

Whenever I do seminars with Dr. McGill, he always asks me about hitting the perfect lift. “Brian, how many times have you found the perfect form for the perfect lift?” My answer is always “still searching for it, even after 20+ years.’ Finally, I might have found it with my last lift in the competition.

My own case

lifting form changes with Dave Hoff

Have the best people around you when tweaking lifting form


Over the years, I’ve had a lot of help from people, including Dr. McGill, Dave Tate, Steve Goggins, Dave Hoff, Josh Bryant, Shawn Frankl, and other top-notch coaches and lifters. Most recently, as noted in this article here, part 1 and here, part 2, I had help from Dave Hoff – specifically bringing my stance out. You can read about how it didn’t feel good initially, and I fought it. But, after weeks and weeks, it became much more natural to me and led to a big squat. It was worth the effort!

Final thoughts

If you would like help with your own lifting form/ approach, I offer this in both a virtual and in-person setting. Also, my books 10/2o/Life and Gift of Injury give very well suggestions for starting points on the squat, bench, and deadlift. Also, I have many videos on my youtube page under lift coaching you can see below in this playlist.


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Brian Carroll

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Brian is a retired world-class powerlifter with over two decades of world-class powerlifting. From 1999 to 2020, Brian Carroll was a competitive powerlifter, one of the most accomplished lifters in the sport's history. Brian started off competing in bench press competitions 'raw,' then, shortly into the journey, he gravitated toward equipped lifting as there were no "raw" categories then. You only had to choose from single-ply (USPF) and Multi-ply (APF/WPC). Brian went on to total 2730 at 275 and 2651 at 242 with more than ten times his body weight in three different classes (220, 242, 275), and both bench pressed and deadlifted over 800 pounds in two other weight classes. He's totaled 2600 over 20 times in 2 different weight classes in his career. With 60 squats of 1000lbs or more officially, this is the most in powerlifting history, regardless of weight class or federation, by anyone not named David Hoff. Brian realized many ups and downs during his 20+ years competing. After ten years of high-level powerlifting competition and an all-time World Record squat at 220 with 1030, in 2009, Brian was competing for a Police academy scholarship. On a hot and humid July morning, Brian, hurdling over a barricade at 275lbs, landed on, fell, and hurt his back. After years of back pain and failed therapy, Brian met with world-renowned back specialist Prof McGill in 2013, which changed his trajectory more than he could have imagined. In 2017, Brian Carroll and Prof McGill authored the best-selling book about Brian's triumphant comeback to powerlifting in Gift of Injury. Most recently (10.3.20) -Brian set the highest squat of all time (regardless of weight class) with 1306 lbs – being the first man to break the 1300lb squat barrier at a bodyweight of 303 lbs.
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