Lifting weights is an incredible way to build lean muscle, lose weight, tone up, and rev your metabolism. It’s also a great way to destress and increase your overall energy. But, it’s just as important to know how much weight is too much. To avoid injury, you need to know how much weight is the right weight for you. This article will cover all the basics to get you lifting, pressing and pushing in the right direction!
First, Lift Without Weight
If you’re brand new to working out with weights, the most important step to take (without risking injury) is to lift without any weight. Lifting without weights will help ensure that you don’t strain a muscle group, or place unnecessary weight on your joints. Lifting without weights will help to get your heart rate up, while also making sure that you have enough range of movement (and strength) to do the exercise with proper form.
For example, if you want to work out your chest and shoulder muscles, head over to the chest press and lift 10-12 reps without any weight. Are your movements slowed and controlled? If the exercise is a challenge, stick to two more sets of 12 without adding weight. If it’s easy, now you’re ready to add some weight.
Trainer instructing a senior woman in the gymNext, Add Weight to Your Exercise
Once you know that you can handle a particular exercise without any weight (a good determination is that your movements are slow, controlled and you are breathing comfortably, as opposed to panting for air!) start by adding five pounds of weight. Try five reps at this weight. Is it still fairly easy (it shouldn’t be a struggle to lift), then add five more pounds or ten if that feels right. Lift another 5 reps, and see how that feels while asking yourself: will it be a challenge to lift twelve reps at this weight?
If it still seems too easy, continue adding weight in increments of five until you’re at a comfortable weight for yourself (this may take some guesswork, but continue lifting to five after adjusting weight, and then adjust your weight to less or more based on how it feels.) One sign that you’re lifting too much weight is you’ll slow down, or become unable to keep proper form throughout. If this is the case, make sure to stop your exercise, and lessen the weights by five (or ten).
Know What to Expect After Your First Few Lifting Sessions
One of the greatest things about strength training is that you will always challenge your body to reach its greatest potential, and to get that strong, powerful body you want. But, in order to achieve this, you can’t treat every workout the same. Continue challenging yourself by increasing the weight. (You can’t exactly get stronger and continue to burn calories when you remain at the same weight for months, can you?)
A challenging exercise may require the same amount of weight for a few sessions so that you can perfect your form; other exercises may require you ‘up’ the weight (for example, if you find you power through bicep curls with ten pounds on each arm, you may want to increase it to 15 lbs. the following week to challenge yourself). Each time you enter the weight room, remember to listen to your body.
If anything hurts, stop what you’re doing and modify your exercise. Slow and steady wins the race, and when you follow this guide, you’ll achieve the body you long for.