Archive for the tag - weight lifting

How Much Weight Should I Be Lifting?

The amount of weight you lift is best dictated by your fitness goals of strength, size or endurance - and not your weight or height.

Fairly often, I get emails from guys and gals with a common question: Based on my weight and height, how much weight should I be lifting?

As it turns out, there’s no magic formula. Instead, the amount of weight that you lift needs to be based on your goals. More specifically, it’s based on the number of repetitions that your goal necessitates.

Here’s how it breaks down:

  • If your goal is strength for a given muscle group, then you’ll want to complete 1 – 6 repetitions of each exercise.
  • If your goal is size (or size and strength) for a given muscle group, then you’ll want to complete 7 – 12 repetitions of each exercise.
  • If your goal is endurance for a given muscle group, then you’ll want to complete 12 – 15 repetitions of each exercise.

Since you’ll want to be fatigued on the last repetition, the number of repetitions clearly dictates the amount of weight that you need to lift. For example, if I were training for strength, I could perform 5 bicep curls with 65 pound dumbbells. But if I was training for endurance, I’d need to opt for 45 pound dumbbells to complete 15 solid repetitions.

Also, keep in mind that in order to progress toward your goals, you’ll want to add more weight over time. If you find yourself getting too comfortable (or able to perform two extra repetitions on your last set for two consecutive workouts), it’s time to increase the weight.

You’ll often hear people say that you should be able to curl or lift or press a certain percentage of your bodyweight, but here’s the truth: The amount of weight that you use is best dictated by your fitness goals of strength, size or endurance – and not your weight or height.

Top 9 Strength Training & Lifting Mistakes.

Improper form is just one of the many mistakes that exercisers tend to make.

I’ve been going to the gym long enough to have seen it all. And though I often have the urge to point out the mistakes of the gym-goers around me, I resist the urge to be that guy. But since you’ve actively solicited my advice, there’s certainly no reason to hold back.

Here are 9 of the most common strength training mistakes that I’ve encountered.

  1. Using momentum. This is huge, and I see it all the time. When you perform a movement for an exercise, it creates momentum. When reversing directions, this momentum can be used to cheat. Unfortunately, it’s not using muscle power – and so this type of cheating should be eliminated. A simple trick is to pause for a second or two before reversing directions – this will absorb the momentum.
  2. Wrong number of reps. The number of reps that you perform for an exercise is entirely dependent on your fitness goals. If you want size, you should probably aim for 4 – 10 repetitions of each exercise. If you want definition, increased endurance or strength (and not size), then you should probably shoot for 10 – 15 repetitions. Whether you are going for 4 or 15 repetitions, you should be fully fatigued on your last rep. And that brings us to our next mistake…
  3. Improper weight. Using the right amount of weight is important. Unless you are just looking to maintain what you’ve got – and not progress – then you should be fully fatigued on your last rep. If you feel like you could do another rep or two, then the weight is too light. Bump it up.
  4. Not progressing. If you’re looking to increase your size or strength, it means you’re going to need to progress to higher levels of resistance over time. Muscles don’t grow unless they are forced to grow – and doing more of the same will only get you more of the same. I recommend the 2 for 2 rule to help know when it’s time to increase the weight.
  5. Doing the same workout each day. A lot of exercisers try to train every muscle group each time they hit the gym. While this is an especially poor practice if you go to the gym often (it can result in over-training), all people will benefit from focusing on different muscle groups on different days. Instead of trying to train every muscle in 45 minute (and not really hit any of them hard), focusing on just a muscle group or two can give you an effective, deep workout.
  6. Not adding variety. Many of us get into workout routines that we like, and then we stick to it. Unfortunately, our muscles adjust to our routines – and stale routines make plateaued results more likely. Try switching things up – change the base of stability, order of your exercises or even try something new.
  7. Improper form. Improper form goes beyond the momentum-based cheating mentioned above. It covers anything from incorrect postures to not using a full range of motion. Compromised form means compromised results. If you think you may be using improper form, then work with a personal trainer – or, at the very least, perform an internet search to see the exercise performed properly.
  8. Resting too long. For most of us, 45 – 60 seconds of rest in between sets does the trick. But those seconds tick by quickly, and it’s easy to take a bit of a cat nap. Watch the clock to make sure you’re not resting too long – it will make your workout much more efficient.
  9. Exercising during pain. If it hurts, stop! Delayed onset soreness is good and healthy – but if you’re experiencing pain while lifting, something isn’t right. Continuing to exercise while in pain is a recipe for serious injury. Moreover, if a muscle is still sore from a previous workout, then it is too soon to train it again. Hold off until the muscle heals.

Did I miss anything? Let me know in the comments below!

The 2-for-2 Rule: How to Know When You Should Increase The Weight.

Building muscles requires increasing resistance. Following the 2-for-2 Rule helps you identify when it's time to up the weight.

We know that progression is necessary to build bigger and stronger muscles. If you do what you’ve always done, you’ll get what you’ve always gotten; our muscles won’t increase in size or strength unless we push them to do so. And that “pushing” is done through incremental increases in the amount of resistance.

Just yesterday, while exercising with my boyfriend, he asked a common question: When should I increase the amount of weight that I’m lifting? To answer that question, most people expect an answer that’s attached to a time-frame, like “every three weeks” or “every fifth workout.” But that’s not really how it works, and all of our bodies work, adjust and develop differently.

Graves and Baechle created a more practical formula to determine when it’s time to increase the amount of resistance. It’s called the 2-for-2 Rule:

If you can successfully complete two or more repetitions in the last set in two consecutive workouts for any given exercise, then the load should be increased.

For example, I perform 4 sets of 8 reps of dumbbell bicep curls. If I can perform 10 reps on my final set of bicep curls for two weeks in a row, then it’s time to increase the weight. Remember, if you are looking to build muscle, you’ll want to target a low number of repetitions – but you should be fully fatigued on your last rep. The 2-for-2 Rule helps identify when fatigue is no longer happening!

If you are new to working out, you may be able to increase resistance by 5% – 10%. If you are more advanced, 2% – 5% may be more appropriate. This usually amounts to 2.5 – 5 pounds for smaller muscle groups and 5 – 10 pounds for larger muscle groups.