Resistance weightlifting is essential for growing muscle and gaining strength and stamina. However, if you’re just starting out, or the weights you’ve been using aren’t doing it for you anymore, you may be confused about how much you should actually be lifting.
First off, there is no hard and fast rule when it comes to how much you should lift. Strength varies from guy to guy. It also varies from muscle to muscle. You may need more weight than a guy who’s your exact age, height and weight. And you may need more weight for your biceps than for your deltoids. There are lots of variables to consider.
Here are some tips to help you determine what you should be lifting:
• If you’re just starting out, or if you’re trying out a new workout, practice weight training exercises without weights first. This will help your muscles become used to the activity, and it will help perfect your form. Form is the most essential part of weight training—or any type of exercise for that matter. Proper form gets you the results you want and prevents injury.
• Deciding how much weight to use is more intuitive than scientific, and it may require you to try a range of different weights for each muscle you want to work.
• Try lighter weights first. Men tend to start out with weights that are too heavy for them, which can result in sore, overworked muscles, or even injury.
• Try doing 15 reps—slowly–with your chosen weight for your chosen muscle. If you can do 15 easily and without fatigue, the weight is too light. If you struggle or give up during the last two or three reps, they are too heavy.
• If you can’t do an exercise using proper form—if you have to lean back or adjust yourself, or you can’t extend your arms or legs to the proper position, you are using weights that are too heavy.
• If you can’t accomplish an explosive movement—one that starts slowly, gains momentum and then finishes powerfully—your weights are either too heavy or too light.
• Make sure your muscles get nice and tired. Your muscles need to be repeatedly worked to fatigue in order for them to become stronger. Remember that fatigue doesn’t mean exhausted—it just means you have really work at those last few to keep perfect form.
• Once reps become easy for you, it’s time to increase your weight. Don’t assume you should go up a certain number of pounds . Make small incremental changes in your weights, and test out each change.