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How Heavy Should I Lift?

June 10, 2014 3 min read

If you are new to weight lifting it can be quite daunting as you have no idea what weights you should be lifting. Before you lift any weights though, you need to first ensure that you have the correct posture and stance for the exercises you are going to perform; this will prevent any injuries as, once you add weight, you are putting more strain on your muscles and, if you aren't performing the exercise correctly, you're putting your body at risk of damage. [caption id="attachment_48976" align="alignnone" width="540"]Image credit: http://st1.thehealthsite.com/ Image credit: http://st1.thehealthsite.com/[/caption] Once you feel comfortable with the movements, it's time to select your weights. Sadly it's not as easy as wandering over to the rack and picking up the first ones you see. Don't just pick up the tiny hand weights that probably weigh less than your handbag! The best way to figure out which weight you should use is through trial and error (but without the error part hopefully). [caption id="attachment_48977" align="alignnone" width="430"]Image credit: http://www.athenstalks.com/ Image credit: http://www.athenstalks.com/[/caption] Greg Justice, an exercise physiologist, and author of Mind Over Fatter, says the simple trick to finding the perfect weight for you is to pick up different weights until you find one that you can only just do one rep with; so if you are doing squats then you need to find the weight that allows you to only just perform one squat without a severe struggle. Then, once you've found that weight, put it down and find a weight that's approximately 60-70% of that weight. So if you managed to do one leg press with 30 pounds (approx. 13 kilos), then select a weight of 18-21 pounds (approx. 8 kilos). The reason for dropping the weight that only allowed you to do one rep was because you will need to do multiple reps of each exercise to get results and, by finding your maximum weight and selecting a percentage of that, you will have found the perfect weight for you. [caption id="attachment_48978" align="alignnone" width="504"]Image credit: http://www.bodybuilding.com/fun/8-reasons-women-should-lift-weights.html Image credit: http://www.bodybuilding.com/fun/8-reasons-women-should-lift-weights.html[/caption]

How do you know if you are lifting the correct weight?

If you are able to complete your rep sets with a little struggle but without losing form or experiencing extreme pain, then you are using the correct weight. You need to feel like you are pushing yourself enough that you will see results, but not so much that you are putting your body at risk of injury. If you start to lose form, or if you can't complete the rep sets, then you need to pick a lighter weight. Don't be afraid to get a lighter weight; it's not important how heavy you lift compared to others. What is important is that you lift the correct weight FOR YOU. You will need to perform this test for each of the exercises you do as you will be able to lift a different weight for squats than you would for a chest press. It will take a little time, but once you know what weight suits you, you'll be ready to go each time you hit the gym. [caption id="attachment_48979" align="alignnone" width="455"]Image credit: http://www.leanitup.com/ Image credit: http://www.leanitup.com/[/caption] If maths isn't your strong point, a quick calculation to find out 60% of the one rep maximum weight is: Maximum one rep weight X 60 / 100 e.g. If your maximum one rep weight was 15 pounds: 15 X 60 / 100 = 9 For more articles like this, please follow my blog.   Picture credit for featured image: http://www.evolvehealth.nl/   Sources: http://www.womenshealthmag.com/fitness/how-much-weight-should-i-lift http://www.nerdfitness.com/blog/2014/02/06/strength-training-101-how-much-weight-should-i-be-lifting/

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