How Much Weight to Use At The Gym
A question that we get asked a lot is, “how do I know how much weight I should be using on an exercise?”
That’s a great question! Within LYB we made this easier to figure out. For each exercise, we listed an average weight range used for female recreational lifters for that rep/time range. If you’re unsure of where to begin, just choose the lightest weight recommended and you can increase or decrease the weight from there. No matter what your strength levels are, you likely be able to do at least a few reps with our lightest recommended weights. This is just a simple trial and error.
Essentially you want to choose a weight where you can complete the number of reps given within a set, with good form and technique, while challenging yourself to a point at which the last few reps feel difficult to complete. It may take you a few sessions to figure out.
Say for example the exercise is a biceps curl and you are to complete this exercise for 3 sets of 10 reps. You pick up a pair of 15-pound weights and can only complete 6 reps. In this situation, we would say to decrease your weight and try a pair of 12-pound weights instead. You try again and this time you can get to 9 reps. Still not quite 10. That’s okay! Our advice would be to stay at this weight. At each session continue to try to push for those 10 reps. As you become stronger, you will likely hit those 10 reps.
Now, this is important– don’t stop trying to push out more reps. Since we always want those last few reps to be difficult, once you can push to 10 reps, try your best to push to 11 reps, and then 12 reps. At THAT point, that’s when you should go up in weight. This time when you grab onto those 15-pound weights, you’ll be able to do about 8 or 9 reps. That’s great! You’ve become stronger and now you can work your way to building up your reps again. This is what visible progress looks like in the gym and why we think it’s important you use log-sheets to track what weights you’re using. It’s FUN to see quantifiable progress!
Think of your target reps as a target rep range.
You may not always be able to go up in weights during each program phase, but always ensure you are attempting to challenge yourself. If you are new to exercise, you will find that you are very quickly able to go up in your weights. Untrained individuals will typically see the largest spike in strength in their first year of training. After that, it happens at a much slower rate so don’t be alarmed when your strength increases begin to taper.
Now, there are more sophisticated ways to figure this out.
Introducing % of 1 Rep Max (% 1RM)
You may notice on a traditional type of lifting program you’ll see things like “75% 1RM” listed on how much weight to use.
1-rep max is essentially how much weight you can lift for an exercise for just 1 rep. This number is useful to help you figure out how much weight you should be able to lift for other rep ranges.
To figure out this number for an exercise, you simply need to perform that exercise with weight for as many reps as you can do at that weight.
Let’s use squats as our example. You are on a lifting program that calls 10 reps of squats. You grab a barbell that’s 45 pounds and you max out at 15 reps of squats (67% of 1RM). Input these numbers into the 1RM Calculator below and voila! You can easily see on the chart at how much weight you should be able to do for 10 reps (75% 1RM).
Calculate Your One Rep Max
Now, you may be asking yourself – is there a rep range or %1RM that is more conducive for results?
Another good question, and one that you will hear many arguments to.
This has been studied and the thing is, there are both pros and cons to doing high reps vs. low rep programs.
High reps = Take more time – Easier on joints – Cardio Inducing – Mentally fatiguing – High Endurance
Low reps = Take less time – Harder on joints – No cardio – Can be more dangerous – Low Endurance
The good news is that most studies showed that training with lighter weights and higher reps stimulated just as much muscle growth as lifting heavy weights and lower reps. Neither is better than the other unless you personally find that you enjoy doing one way over the other. Both ways can build muscle if you train hard and try and push your limits.
At LYB we like to switch things up, so you’ll notice that we have programs at all rep range levels. Giving you a variety of ways to continuously challenge your body. Don’t be afraid of pushing yourself for a few more reps or going up in weight. In our experience, many people are still afraid of using heavier weights and you are likely much stronger than you think you are! Don’t underestimate yourself. At today’s workout, pick up the next set of weights and see what happens!
Home Weight Equipment We Use:
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