This is a common question I get from my online clients and those that purchase my downloadable plans from this website.
“Am I lifting enough weight to reach my goal?”
“What does lifting heavy mean?”
"How Do I Know if I’m Lifting Heavy Enough?"
Here are four tips to help you make sure you are lifting heavy enough:
1. Proper Form is Most Important
The number one guideline I’d like for you to follow is to have PROPER FORM so that you can lift weights safely for the long term. What good is reaching a goal if you injure yourself and can’t exercise at all?! In my downloadable plans, I teach form by calling it Good Posture Stance:
For all exercises, whether you are doing squats or dumbbell curls, you should stabilize you body and stand with good posture throughout the movement: Back straight with a natural arch, shoulders squared, head straight. If at anytime in the lift you feel your form break – arched back, swinging back, body shifting unsafely – you need to stop and readjust the weight that you are lifting.
Always do a very light warm up set before you attempt to lift heavy. During that warm up set, think about your form and about how much more weight you could handle. Then you can safely progress into lifting heavier weight.
2. Challenge Yourself
Keeping good form in mind at all times, challenge yourself with the weight that you lift! Muscle is formed when you tear down those muscle fibers and they rebuild. Change will not occur with out challenge.
If you are performing an exercise for possibly 3 sets of 15 repetitions, the last few reps – 12-15, should be a challenge. If you get to 15 and all of the movements were easy, you need to try to lift more weight for you next set. You can also make a decision to do that whole set again if it was too easy.
It’s always a good idea to change up your number of sets and reps that you do over time. Sometimes you may do 4 sets of 8 repetitions, for example. Since you are completing fewer reps, just 8, you should start with heavier weight than you used for the sets of 15. The same rule applies; the last few should be very hard. If they are not, add more weight.
3. Don’t Get Stuck in a Rut
Don’t get to a point where you say, “This is the weight I lift for curls, etc.” Always strive for change and progress. Don’t stay comfortable. Challenge yourself. Try more weight, less reps, more reps… whatever it takes to keep progressing and challenging your muscles.
4. Make Your Own Rules
This is my favorite rule ever! …In life and lifting! Last year, at Camp GORGO (a fitness camp for women I run through my online magazine GORGO), I was teaching a session that taught women to lift next level. I noticed with them like I’d noticed in my own gym, women tend to lift much lighter than I know they can do with some certain lifts. I find this common with dumbbell rows. Rows work your back, lats specifically, and this is a strong part of your body! Most women can handle more than 15-pound dumbbells. Actually, you may find that 30-pound dumbbells are a warm up weight! Just because no other women are lifting that much around doesn’t mean you can’t.
I really want you to think for yourself and really question whether you can do more weight. Don’t just settle for the weight a little lighter than the men or the weight that all of the other girls are lifting. Lift the weight that challenges YOU! Think for yourself and make your own rules about what heavy is! It’s different for everyone.
You just might surprise and impress yourself! And isn’t that the ultimate goal?! That is MY ultimate goal for you: That you develop a strong self-confidence. I want you to see what you are capable of and reap the benefits of feeling strong and powerful as those feelings flow into all areas of your life.
For a video of me chatting about this topic, click here.