How to know when it's time to increase your weights
Alright people… let’s talk weights!
Anybody in the world of fitness who knows me, knows that I’m always on the hunt for a new challenge. Whether it be coming up with stimulating, dynamic, and effective exercises, trying a new class, or opting for that heavier dumbbell, I strive to keep my body tested, and pushed to new limits.
Why? Because that’s how you keep your body from becoming stagnant. Everyone in the exercise world is on their own personal fitness journey; some want to lose fat; some want to stay healthy, and some just want to work out for pizza and ice cream! Regardless of the reason, it is so important to continue to drive and propel your body forwards, so that it never ceases to keep changing.
Cue weight training!
In my experience as a trainer, lifting heavy has always had a specific stigma surrounding it. The most common collection of reasons and rumours I’ve come across, particularly with regards to women, are the following:
Lifting heavy will make me massive or bulky
I want to lose weight and get lean, not big
I’m not strong enough/scared to injure myself
It’s too intimidating
The good news, is that all of the above are SO far from the truth in today’s world!
Thanks to proper education and training, women are realizing more and more, just how important weight lifting is. Besides the incredible things it does for your overall health, the spotlight falls on the following main, and crucial benefits:
Preservation of muscle mass (crucial for age related issues)
Loss of body fat and increase in lean muscle
Increased calorie burn
Decreased risk of injury
The list goes on!
Being a personal trainer, I get approached with the same question regularly: ‘how much weight should I be lifting?’ The answer: when it comes to strength training, there is no right or wrong answer. The amount of weight you should be lifting, depends solely on your personal fitness goals.
But… there are three main strategies to consider when it comes to lifting weights:
1-5 reps = max strength
6-15 reps = hypertrophy (i.e. muscle definition, and shape)
15+ reps = endurance (i.e. stamina and cardiovascular improvement)
It is important to note, that our muscles will constantly adapt to training. In the same way we adapt to changes in climate and altitude, being able to lift a weight that was once completely out of reach proves that if we want our bodies to change, we must find ways of continuing to challenge it, push our muscles, and increase the stress placed on it during exercise. This is also known as ‘progressive overload,’ and can be achieved by altering the amount of weight (volume), and reps you use, so that your body doesn’t adapt to any particular adjustment.
So, how do you know when you are approaching progressive overload? The simplest answer would be when you notice that you can do more reps with the weight that you started with!
Say for example you were doing 10 reps of bicep curls, using 10 LB dumbbells; and now you can comfortably do 12 reps for multiple workouts; test yourself by increasing the weight by 2-5 LBS.
Another method that I personally find comes in handy is paying attention to the speed in which you lift and how you feel at the end of any given set. If your last couple of reps are slower than when you started, leaving you short of breath and fatigued, then you are generally lifting the right weight. If you finish a set at normal speed, you can usually go up in weight.
However, until you are able to pull off more reps with any current weight, do not try to increase! This can easily lead to injury and/or sacrificing your form, neither of which we want. But by constantly pushing your body to do more reps or use a slightly heavier weight, you can continue making progress! Just make sure you have the proper balance when it comes to pushing yourself and listening to your body’s limits. When in doubt, start light and progress at a healthy pace. #babysteps
GENERAL RULE OF THUMB
- Add 2-5 LBS
- Add 5-10 LBS
ADDITIONAL SIGNS YOU COULD POTENTIALLY LIFT HEAVIER
You have never increased the weight you lift
You’ve stopped feeling fatigued or sore
The weight you’re lifting isn’t challenging
You’ve stopped seeing physical change
If you’ve taken a break from training, or are hesitant to begin in the first place, one or two resistance workouts per week can get you back on track and help you begin building muscle again!
Still scared? Come train with me in a friendly, safe and ogle free environment at CrushCamp! I’m currently offering 3 45-minute P/T sessions for only $195 (or Doubles for $120) - send me an email at email@example.com to book your complimentary consultation, or say hi after class with any other questions you have!