When people think of going to the gym, weight lifting is most likely the first or second image that comes to mind. And for good reason. The benefits are numerous. A solid resistance-training program can make you run faster, lose weight quicker, increase your flexibility, and of course, make you stronger. Not to mention that weights are the quickest and easiest way to add muscle tone to your body.
But weight lifting can be problematic if done incorrectly. You risk injury, improper muscle development, or even achieve no results at all. Many of these issues can be traced back to incorrect form combined with an inappropriate amount of weight.
If you're hoping to bulk up within a couple of months, you won't see that desired muscle mass if you're only lifting super heavy sets. Likewise, if you only perform a variety of light exercises, while it's unlikely you're doing your body any harm, you won't observe much of a physical difference.
So How Much Weight Should I Lift?
Like most things concerning fitness, the answer all depends on your specific goals. One huge advantage of weight lifting is being able to accurately measure your workout load. Broken down, there are three different categories of weight lifting, and all three have different outcomes: Light: little strength added, increased muscular endurance, higher metabolic conditioning Moderate: some strength added, maximum muscle development Heavy: maximum strength added
To begin any resistance training exercise, it's important to measure your one rep max. A one rep max is exactly what it sounds like: the most amount of weight you can lift in just one rep. Once determined, you have your starting point. General rule of thumb is that any weight less than 70% of your one rep max is considered light, 70-85% is moderate, and 85%+ is heavy.
So if you want to add muscle to your biceps, for example, and you have a one rep max barbell curl of 100 pounds, knowing you need to lift anywhere between 70 and 85 pounds will help you add muscle more effectively. You should be able to perform 13 or more reps on light loads, 8 to 12 on moderate, and 4 to 7 on heavy. Keep in mind that your one rep max will go up with the more weight you regularly lift.
Mix it Up
It's never a bad idea to throw a curve ball into your routine. You need to constantly be shocking your system to avoid any workout plateaus. When working your chest, don't be afraid to combine moderate barbell exercises with heavy ones. This way you'll get bigger and stronger at the same time.
Going easy on your joints by doing an occasional light exercise is totally acceptable as well, but don't neglect the other weight brackets entirely. What is the best way you've been able to see results from weight training? Do you lift for endurance, mass, or strength? Let us know in the comments below. And don't forget to share this info with your friends.