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How much Weight should I Lift during Workouts?

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Once you begin lifting weights in a regular workout program and schedule, a key question many ask is just how much weight should I use?  In order to find the best answer there are a number of factors to look into.

Do you want to lean out or build muscle?

Do you want to get stronger or bigger?

In general you should lift a weight that when you get to the last few reps of a set you struggle with it but you maintain your form.  This is key – form is always key! Lifting with correct form will (1) limit injuries and (2) allow you to get the most out of the exercise.  If you are doing 12 reps, then the last 2-3 should be hard for you to maintain proper form but still complete the move.  If you find that you are cheating or your form is not solid, then drop the weight until you find the right weight to use.

One thing you really need to keep in mind is to not go too easy either.  Lifting with too little weight will not produce the end results you are looking for.  If you find that you can do all the reps without any struggle at all, then increase the weights to find that right balance.

Generally if you lift heavier weight with less reps that will mean you wget stronger than if you lift medium weight with higher reps.  Doing the later will help your muscle endurance and build size more than strength.  So focusing on your goals first is key – which do you want and then use that method.

If you are doing a workout program, say from Beachbody as a highly recommended example, then I always suggest making sure you select the program that meets your goals and then follow the program as is for the first few times.  As an example you select P90X, follow the programs reps/sets and use the weights that make the last few reps tough but with good form.  After you have that down pat and have seen the results from following the program as is, then you can adjust if you want by: (1) going with less reps/heavier weights for strength training or (2) go with more reps/lighter weights for more muscle endurance and muscle building results.

In the end, selecting the right weights takes some time and experiments.  Find what makes you work hard, but allows you to stay with the proper form.  You will see folks in the gym lifting heavy weights but their form stinks.  They are probably doing that for show or ego more than anything else and are not really getting what they can out of the exercise and are much more subject to injury.  Don’t be that person.

Questions?  Contact me and let’s talk about your goals and the best approach for you.

—Coach Mike

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