One question we get asked a lot here at uFit is when should I go heavier?
We know you don’t want big, bulgy muscles but a toned, slender frame so should you continually chase the weights? And if so, when do you increase in weight?
Before we dig into when you should swap the 7.5kgs for the 10s, let’s first understand why you’d want to go heavier.
In simple terms, the heavier you lift the greater progress you’re likely to make.
- You’ll provide a greater stimulus to build muscle and strength (*that is if you’re eating adequately).
- You’ll get stronger, reducing the risk of injuries from falls and other accidents. In case the world implodes, you’ll be harder to kill.
- You’ll find everyday tasks like carrying shopping, and then putting it away easier. Giving your kids a piggy back will become a breeze.
- You’ll burn more calories at rest because of the extra muscle you have which is more metabolically active than fat. Meaning it’ll become easier to lose fat.
- You’ll provide a greater training effect on the heart and nervous system
For sure we’re all not shooting to be powerlifters and lift the heaviest load we can. In fact we’re just regular people wanting to look better and feel better.
With that, at certain points in your training lifecycle your strength will naturally plateau. That is, if you don’t implement certain protocols like we do here at uFit. You probably won’t know them because they’re fancy and not often implemented in the gym.
That’s things like:
Less reps, banded work, paused sets, 1.5 reps, mechanical drop sets…
So if you’ve been a gym goer for any period of time and you haven’t switched up your weights then you’ve probably fallen into the trap of complacency. And complacency leads to a lack of results.
So how do you know when the weight you’re lifting is too heavy?
When you’re following a well designed workout (like here at uFit’s Density classes) you’ll most likely have a certain number of reps to achieve for that exercise for that day. And the goal is to obviously hit the number of reps required with the weight you’re lifting for the allotted time cap.
So here at uFit we look for 3 markers that suggest you should stop your set there.
- You can’t complete the full range of motion therefore not completing the reps in the required fashion
- Your form breaks down
- The rep takes longer than 4 seconds to complete without any tempo involved.
Of course, the form is subjective because there has to be some variance to a degree.
If your technique is absolutely on point and you’re barely breaking a sweat throughout all the required reps than you’re certainly going too light.
And if all your reps are a little sloppy and loose you’ll be building subpar movement patterns which can lead to poor posture and injuries over time.
So the sweet spot between above is great. Not pushing to absolute failure, and not finding it a breeze.
So then how do you know when you should go heavier with your weights?
Pick a weight that you usually do 10 reps of an exercise for and rep it out. By repping it out I mean perform it again but perform as many reps as you can without falling into the above 3 bullet points.
If you push it and you achieve only 11-13 reps. You’re probably good to carry on.
If however you get 31 reps? Then you’re definitely going too light and you need to up the weight to create a better training stimulus.
Here at uFit we have this thing called Reps in Reserve (RIR). Usually when picking a weight to use we want our members to leave around 2 reps in reserve. This means we never take exercises to failure, risking injury (it’s ok from time to time but not all the time) and it provides just enough stimulus to contribute to a training effect.
As you know, your mind will most likely hold you back from lifting heavier because a heavier weight is tough, seems scary and you may think you’ll injure yourself. If you follow the above protocols though, you’ll more than justify increasing your weights in a safe manner.
Just don’t lift a weight that contributes to the breakdown of those 3 bullet points above.
Now, time to carry on with your journey