If you are starting to do more strength training and are weight lifting, then you will need to make sure you are using the right set of weights for your body and fitness level.
For instance, you don’t want to stay at the same lighter weight for too long, or else you will plateau and will stop noticing progress. And you also don’t want to start off too heavy as you might strain yourself.
So, how do you know you are using the right weights? And when you should be swapping them for lighter or heavier? Here’s what to look for.
The Move Feels Easy on the Last Rep
If you are racing through those 12 reps no problem, then you should go up. Why? That last rep and even the last few reps should feel tiring. You should feel like you can’t do one more on that last one. If you are moving quickly and could keep going, increase. Then see how you feel. And if it’s been the same weight for a while (months) for this one move and one set of reps, then go up and maybe decrease reps if needed.
You’re in Pain
Yet, if you feel pain, go lighter. This is where you see the difference between feeling tired and sore and feeling pain. If you hear anything (crack, noise, etc.) don’t use that weight anymore and if you start to feel pain, where it hurts to move that area of the body or the soreness prolongs too long, then go lighter.
If you are dropping the weights or can’t hold them with stability, then they are likely too heavy. If you do experience immediate soreness with new weights, go with icing, OTC meds, and some protein post workout (try protein bars or a whip up a protein shake with protein powder). CBD balms or other natural forms of remedy to can also help you feel better during the transition.
Consider How Long You’ve Used Those Weights
Have you always done squats with 20 pound dumbbells? Then go up to 25 and see how you feel. It should feel harder but not impossible. That is how you know it is time to keep that higher weight and practice working the muscles in that way. Plus, if you do work with a trainer or in a class, you can ask them if they think you’re ready to go up and see what they say!
And a tip? If you have stopped seeing progress, where you are not gaining more muscle or building strength anymore, then it’s time to increase, too. See if that kick starts your metabolism and muscle building again!