Many people question how heavy they should be lifting at the gym. How much is too much and when should you increase the weights?

Light weights vs. heavy weights

When lifting moderate to light weights, people usually perform a higher number of repetitions (12 or more). When lifting heavier, the weight increases and the number of repetitions decreases (10 or less).

Typically, beginners should always start off lifting light to moderate weights and gradually increase as they go along. This is to slowly adapt to weight lifting and prevent injuries at the same time.

However, if you are more advanced, it is usually recommended to increase the weights and lift heavier. The reason for this is to keep on challenging your body with harder workouts to prevent adaptation and plateaus. Lifting heavier also triggers more muscle damage and promotes muscle growth. Lighter weights and higher repetitions is more of an endurance workout than a muscle building session. Light weights do not cause as much muscle damage as lifting heavy does.

As explained in this article, lifting weights builds up your metabolism, promotes fat loss and helps you maintain your physique by eating more overall calories.

Women and heavy weights

Many women fear increasing their weights because they believe they will bulk up like men. This is a myth. Women do not have enough testosterone to become masculine and can only look like that if they take anabolic steroids. From my personal experience, lifting heavy will make you leaner, more toned and turn your metabolism into a fat burning furnace. Learn more about weight lifting for women here.


How heavy should you lift?

You will be able to determine your ideal weight when there is struggle on your last few repetitions. You should be able to complete your set but with difficulty on the last two or three reps. For example, if you are performing 10 repetitions, you should struggle once you reach your 8th repetition.  It should not be impossible for you to finish, but it shouldn’t be extremely easy either.

Learn more about sets and reps here.

When should you increase your weights?

If you are able to complete your entire set without difficulty, then it would be time to increase the weights. Keep adding until the last couple of reps are completed with extreme effort and strength. Once you master this, you will notice continuous progress with muscle building and training.

How often should you increase the weights?

The rule to how often you should increase is not set in stone. It all depends on your fitness level, your background and how your body is responding to your training. Some people may increase their weights every three weeks whereas others may do it after a few days. What is most important is that you are consistent; you perform the exercise correctly and progress at your own pace. Remember, it is now how heavy you lift, but HOW you lift. You should keep on challenging your body, but do not ever perform the exercise using bad form. Sometimes you may need to decrease the weight to make sure you are doing the exercise correctly to prevent injuries.

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