When you are in the gym, how much weight is too much, or how much is too little?
Determining how much weight you should be lifting in the gym is a common concern for many folks, especially beginners. The answer is fairly simple, but it will require a little experimentation on your part. Let me explain.
First and foremost, remember that lifting weights is a means to stimulate your muscles. Achieving the correct amount of stimulus is a balancing act between using enough weight to do the job, but not so much that you will cause injury or over training.
So how do you pick the right amount of weight?
As a rule of thumb, we like to chose a weight that we can lift 10 times (10 repetitions), where the 10th repetition is moderately difficult. (NOTE: You want to use good form when lifting. Using bad form to get to 10 repetitions is not what we’re after here.)
It will take you some experimenting to find the proper weight, but start a little light and work your way towards it. When performing each repetition you will want to have the positive (pushing) part of the repetition take about 2 seconds, and the negative (resisting) part of the repetition take about 3 seconds.
But that’s not the end of it! Your body will adjust, and soon you will be able to do more than 10 repetitions. To compensate you will need to increase the amount of weight you lift, sometimes by as little as 2 pounds.
As a side note, if you are going long periods without being able to increase the amount of weight you are lifting, or doing more repetitions, something is wrong and you need to figure out what’s going on. You may be over-trained and need a rest. Maybe your form is off. Maybe you need to switch exercises for a little while.
Weight lifting is progressive resistance training, and you should be seeing your body acclimate to a certain weight, then you need to adjust (increase) it. If that cycle is not happening you need to figure out why and fix it.
Remember that good form is essential, as is progressively increasing your weights. Don’t be afraid to experiment and try new exercises and weights to obtain maximum results.