We’ve already talked about the benefits of weight lifting especially for women here. For most people who want to start lifting weights, the most common question is how heavy should I go? If you want to see results, you need to challenge your self. You need to lift heavier than what your muscles are accustomed to on your daily activities. According to the National Strength and Conditioning Association, you need to lift weights heavy enough to tire your muscles within a specific rep range. Here’s a couple of methods that can help you determine the right weights to start with:

1. Know your one-rep max (1RM).

Pick an exercise and find the heaviest dumbell you can lift for one repetition. This is your one-rep max.  For toning, you should be lifting about 60-70% of your maximum. For example, if the maximum you can lift for one bicep curl is 20 pounds, multiply the number with 0.7 (which is equals to 14). This is the weight you should start with.

2. Know how many reps you can do in a set.

This method is a bit less straightforward than the first one and may require some trial and error as you go along. The American Council on Exercise recommends that beginners start with a weight they can lift about 12 to 15 times for one to two sets. To do this, pick a weight that is a bit heavy but not impossible for you to lift a number of times with effort. Do an exercise with 12 repetitions. If you struggle to complete the last 2 reps, then this is a good weight to start with. If you feel like you can do more reps, then you are not lifting heavy enough.

Still unsure?

Here’s a guideline to help you get started:


Additional guidelines:

You are able to lift heavier depending on which muscle group you are working so you shouldn’t use the same weight for each body part. For example, your triceps are generally weaker than your biceps so you may have to lift heavier when doing bicep curls than when doing tricep kickbacks. Meanwhile, your glutes are very powerful so you can definitely lift much heavier weights when doing a squat or a deadlift.

When to increase your weight:

Ultimately, this is all about listening to your body. You are building stronger muscles that are capable of lifting more and more after each workout session. When you can breeze through a 12 rep set, then it’s time to up the weights. Increase by no more than 5 to 10 percent each week.



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