How much do you even lift? – Tips on starting and progressing your weights

Posted: 20 September 2018

Well here you are, you’ve walked into the gym with your new weights program, new protein shaker, and your fit bit is all set. You finish an adequate warm up and then go to set yourself up on your first exercise, oh, wait a minute, you’ve forgotten one small detail. How much do you even lift?

Working out a good resistance level to start with can be a little confusing, especially if you’ve never really done any weight training. So we’ve come up with a general guide to help you get started.

  1. Look at the exercise. Do you know this exercise? Have you performed it before? Are you confident performing this exercise? If you answered 'No' to all of these questions, we highly recommend you seek out one of our qualified personal trainers to assist you in getting started with your program. Not only can a trainer help guide you to the right starting weights, they can check your form, and offer advice that is specific to your personal goals.
  2. Look at your technique. Make sure you nail the technique of the lift before you start loading yourself up with weights. Use your mirrors to watch your form, believe it or not the mirrors aren’t there so you can #getanawesomeselfie (that’s just a happy biproduct), no, the mirrors are there so that you can watch and make sure your movement is even and form is perfect. If you are unsure on form, checkout one of our many technique videos on Youtube or if you are one of our online members, you have direct access on your app to the video for each exercise you are on.
  3. Look at your sets and reps. If you have lifted weights before, then check your sets and reps; think about what weight you might normally use for those sets and reps and compare it with your program. If you haven’t lifted weights before think about the total amount you’ll be lifting. For example if you program has 3 (sets) x 12 (reps), you will need to lift that weight a total of 36 times with only two breaks in between. It’s always better to start off with a slightly lighter weight and increase part way through.
  4. Once you’re feeling confident with the above, push yourself a little, pick a weight that you can only just complete your sets and reps with. Which brings us to the second part.

Now that you’ve worked out a good starting point, where to from here?

When am I ready to increase my weights?

You’ll need to ask yourself three questions to find out.

  1. Did you complete all the sets and reps? You’ll know you need to increase your weight if you feel like you could have completed a further rep beyond the end of your final set of reps. For example if you are doing 3x10 for Bench Press and you get to your third set, complete rep 10 and feel like you could have done 11 reps, than you probably need to increase your weights.
  2. Did you complete the sets and reps maintaining good form? If your movement was fluid and you didn’t have to swing your body, adjust your stance, or compromise another part of your body to help lift the weight, then you are probably ready to increase weight.
  3. Did you maintain the same pace of lifting from the first rep to the last rep? If you lifted holding the same pace for every rep and didn’t rush the last few because it felt heavy, then you’re probably ready to move up.

If you answered yes to all three, you’re ready to increase your weights.

How much do I increase my weights by?

If it’s a lower body exercise then increase your weight by 2-5kg, if it’s an upper body exercise then increase your weight by 1-2kg. You want to keep the additions as minimal as possible so as to not overload the muscle too dramatically. For example if you’re benching 40kg then you will need to add about 1-2kg to your weight bringing it up to 42kg. If you can’t find the exact weight according to this guide, try and increase as close as possible, for example with two 1.25kg on each side, bringing it to a total of 42.5kg. If you are ever in doubt, ask a personal trainer in the gym, or if you are one of our online members, message your online coach who will guide you to the right weight.

How often should I expect to increase my weights?

Every person is different, however your body does need to be constantly challenged, after all that’s what you have signed up for right? Ideally each week or two you’ll make minor additions to your weights however you may find some weeks you need to just hold that weight for an extra week or two.

So there you have it, the basics in starting weight training. If you’re still feeling a little lost with it all, then checkout our extensive online training programs. All exercises are easily set out in an app that allows you to record your data, enables you to watch short technique videos on all exercises, and involves a level 1 or 2 Strength and Conditioning Coach checking in with you weekly to keep you accountable and help guide you in your training. Or meet with one of our highly qualified personal trainers who will love to help get you started with your training.

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