Have you downloaded a generic program online where no weights are advised? Perhaps you have a personal trainer online and you don’t get advised specific weights to use (this is fairly common)? You’re probably wondering what you’re supposed to do! This is a very common query that people have and it can be hard to determine sometimes, especially if you haven’t lifted weights before. What you choose is going to vary massively depending on muscle groups you’re using etc.… but I’ve put together a short guide as to the best way to determine how much weight you should be using for your exercises.
1. Consider Which Muscle Group You’re Using
When choosing which weight you’re going to use consider carefully what muscles you’re going to be using. The smaller the muscle the less weight you’re going to be able to use (especially initially). A good way to illustrate this is that you’re going to be able to squat a lot more than you can lift in a bicep curl.
2. Consider How Many Reps/Sets You’re going To Be Performing
A good rule of thumb to use is More Reps = Less Weight, Less Reps = More Weight. You’re not going to be lifting your max when you have to do 20 reps for 3 sets (60 total reps) rather than 5 reps for 5 sets (25 total reps).
3. Test To See How Challenging It Is For You
The goal with most hypertrophy (muscle building) training is for the last 2 reps to be quite difficult but you’re still able to maintain form. This is the best way to know if you’re lifting heavy enough. When you first pick up the weight you want to use, try it for a couple of reps. You will soon know if it’s way too hard/easy or manageable. It should feel manageable initially.
You may be thinking though – my goal is weight loss, not to build muscle! The same method applies. Building muscle is going to aid with weight loss and help you to keep any extra weight off long term! It’s a win-win!
4. Take Note Of What Weight You Use
Taking note of what weights you’re using (especially if your memory isn’t great!) is really helpful. It will help keep you accountable to what you can do and ensure you continue to progress. This is an important step because if you don’t continue to progress via lifting heavier, changing tempo or reps and sets your progress will more than likely eventually plateau.
I hope that this helps with determining what weight you should be using. As you can see there are many variables but once it’s broken down and you get used to it, you’ll be in there picking up weights confidently in no time!