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What weights should you lift?

You can not just randomly pick the weights that your are going to work out with. Let me correct myself. You can, but what is the meaning of this unthought move? If you ask how much weight or weights you should pick for a given exercise, in this article you will find a guide to help you track your progress faster.

Truth to be said, this question is perfect, but it is not easy to answer. In fact, there are many variables that we have to take into consideration, so we will have a look at them one by one. You can lift a 10kg dumbbell, lift it 75 times and after a while you are tired, not to mention that you will sweat a lot. On the contrary, you can lift a 40kg dumbbell, lift it 8 times, and then quickly put it on the ground because you are not able to make any further repetition. In both cases you train “hard”, but is the one approach better than the other?

What weights should you lift?

You might not be surprised if I tell you that the answer changes based on your goal. If you want to become strong, you will naturally use heavier weights than someone who is focused on the growth of muscle mass. And to improve muscle stamina, you’ll have to lift even much lighter weights.

Strength training means that you choose a weight that allows you to train between 1 and 6 repetitions
Muscle building means that you choose a weight that allows you to train between 8 and 12 repetitions
• To focus on muscle endurance means that you choose a weight that allows you to train at least 15 repetitions

What weights should you lift?

Let’s have a closer look at the three basic training plans.

1. Strength training

Powerlifters, Olympic weightlifters or strongmen – the largest and strongest men and women whose priority is to become stronger. In order to be able to lift heavy objects on the competition, they have to lift similarly heavy weights during their training.

If you want to focus on strength, it requires complex exercises such as Bench Press, Squats and Deadlifts. During these exercises more than one group of joints works simultaneously, for example, during Bench Press it’s shoulders and elbows. This complex movement requires more overall muscle mass and thus allows you to lift heavier weights.

What weights should you lift?

Muscle tissues that have been involved during very heavy series are called glycolytic muscle fibers, and these are the ones that are more prone to grow and get stronger as a response to endurance training. However, these muscles quite quickly get tired and therefore you should not lift very heavy weights many times in succession.

The resting time between the main sets is quite long (3-5 minutes), so incomplete recovery does not prevent successful completion of the sets. Before lifting heavy weights you should for sure warm up so the maximum weights are preceded by a range of progressively heavier heating series. Strength training trainers also avoid series of exercises until failure which is a technique used primarily by bodybuilders.

2. Growth and muscle volume training

While those who train for maximizing their strength are actually growing in volume, their methods may not be the most effective for the maximum growth of muscle mass (hypertrophy). Bodybuilders and gym goers aiming to enlarge their muscle volume have a little different approach to how much weight they should use. It turned out that the most ideal weight to grow muscle mass is the one with which you can make 8-12 repetitions. This opinion is attached to some other facts that we should know about.

What weights should you lift?

• A key is a right technique. You have probably seen YouTube videos of men who while doing bench press push the bar from the chest because the weight is too heavy they cannot lift it in any other way. This certainly is not a good technique. Each exercise has its own technique of how to perform it. Generally speaking, you have to control the weight and only concrete joints should be involved. If you are using your hips or knees with a barbell, you are using joints that you shouldn’t be using. There’s a name for it – cheating – and it violates a good mantra of the technique.

Perform a “genuine” set with a number of reps between 8-12. Of course, you can load light weights and make 12 repetitions with almost no effort. But it is not correct. A true set means that you are very close to the muscular failure, the point in which you cannot do further repetition with good technique. If you can do even the thirteenth repetition, the weights you used were too light. Similarly, if you can only make 4-5 reps, the weight is probably too heavy for better muscle building. The right way consists of choosing the weight with which you can do, separately, only 8-12 repetitions.

What weights should you lift?

Bodybuilders who are also concerned with training the fast muscle fibers usually begin with a complex exercises in order of their body parts. 3-4 training sets of several exercises at different angles and with shorter rest time will guarantee you bigger volume of muscle mass, that is 60 seconds for small muscle groups and to 90 seconds for larger ones.

3. Muscle stamina training

Not everyone is training to be bulky and strong. You can also train at a lower intensity level with a maximum weight with which you can make one repetition. This creates mechanisms inside the muscle, making them aerobically more effective without increasing the size of the muscle. Therefore, the muscle can be used for a longer period of time and for more repetitions without fatigue. The classical musculature of the marathon runner is distributed to handle the distance.

What weights should you lift?

However, if your goal is the overall muscle stamina you should use very light weights with which you can make 15-20 repetitions or even more. The weight incentive will not be strong enough to enlarge volume or strength of the muscle. This occurs because the muscles are firstly connected to the slow than to the fast muscle fibers. These fibers are destined for use in longer-lasting activities and are usually not significant for increasing muscle volume compared to a group of fast muscle fibers.

Relationship of weight and number of repetitions

You must be sure about what is your goal and therefore it will not be difficult to find out how much weight you should use in a given exercise. What you see is a reversed relationship between the number of repetitions that you can do and the actual weight. The heavier weights you lift, the fewer repetitions you make. With a lighter weight, you can do more repetitions.

For example, if your maximum weight on Bench Press is 102 kg, the number of reps you can do with each weight addition may look something like this:

Weight (kg) 65 70 75 79 84 88 93 98 102
Reps 12 11 10 9 7 5-6 4 2 1

A curve of strength is individual for every person as well as for each exercise, therefore you can prepare the training plan in advance. If this was a curve for Bench Press and you want to focus on the strength, you should train with a weight of over 88 kg, for volume, train with the weight of around 65-84 kg, and for the endurance you should reach for weights below the lower limit of this table, which is around 55 kg.

As we have mentioned, everyone has their own curve of strength for every exercise. You will know your own strength curve based on practicing and repetitions.The key is to make sure that you are using the weight that best corresponds to your goals. If you are always starting out with a warm-up, then you can still get to the weight just before muscle failure, and this is called warming upand that is if you don’t think you are in the target range of repetitions. If necessary, you can also adjust the weight for your next set. If you write down achieved weights and performances into your smartphone or fitness diary, you will reduce the amount of guesses the next time you workout.

What weights should you lift?

Little adjustments to your weights

The more difficult part is over, but it does not mean that some experienced weightlifters do not adjust their training weights. Here are some tips you shouldn’t forget.

1. Do not leave out the warming sets with progressive addition of weights

Some consider the warming up sets to be a loss of time, but in fact, these people are unable to lift heavier weights, The truth is that because of that your muscle tissue is more flexible and you practice a particular movement before you seize the heavier weights. It is important to note that although a bodybuilder is training until the muscle failure, warm-up sets never lead to failure. You should stop all heavy series before muscle failure. For bodybuilder who wants to do bench-press with a training weight of 102 kg, in the range of 8-12 reps, the warm-up weight should begin at 61 kg, 84 kg and 93 kg.

What weights should you lift?

2. Start with heavier excercises

It is clear that your energy level decreases during the heavy training session, so you should choose the hardest exercises at the beginning when you are still fresh and full of energy. You can train in a lower range of the hypertrophic zone with a weight that can be done in only 8 reps. During a training of the given body part, train with different intensity, so include a set with 10 reps (close to failure) and later with 12 reps. If you want to ditch a warm up, start working in a lower range of reps and leave your sets with 12 reps for later.

3. Think of gradual overload

Muscles adapt to training by growing bigger and stronger. Strength trainers and bodybuilders know that the greatest adaptation occurs inside their fast muscle fibers. In graphic terminology, your curve of strength moves outwards, and you can now make more reps with the chosen weight.

What weights should you lift?

How do you know when to increase weight?

Try this method: If you can make 2 more reps than with the weight you have started with two successive workouts,increase your weights. So, if you have, for example, started Bench Press with 8 reps and weight 102 kg, but now you can do 10 reps, and at the same time you succeeded in two successive exercises, add-up your weight.

• For upper body exercises, such as Bench Press, increase the weight by around 5%, so use 107 kg instead of 102 kg

• For the lower part of the body, such as squat, increase the weight by approximately 10%, so use 112 kg instead of 102 kg.

Let’s be honest. To continue in the progressive increase in volume, strength or stamina, you must add challenge by increasing the resistance. As you can see, the overload has to be increased over time, otherwise it will get into stagnation. Satisfaction is your greatest enemy, regardless of your goal, so push yourself for progress to make more reps or use a heavier weight.

Even the most devoted weight lifter will achieve a stable level sooner or later. Advanced techniques that involve weights can help you accelerate the achievement of the results in the size of your muscles and strength, but you should do them with a certain intent. Do not let it just happen. Study the various techniques that you can cycle over time during your workouts.

What weights should you lift?

Source: bodybuilding.com

You will soon learn that the bigger and stronger you are, the less you observe “random” results, and the more you need to plan your training. It seems unintuitive, but you’ll find that the more you grow, the more you know. We firmly believe that this article has helped you and you will only make progress in achieving your goals. If you find this article helpful, support it by sharing.