How do You Know if You Are Lifting Heavy?

by Christ Nix

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Now that you are getting familiar with strength training, the gym equipment, and have that fit mom routine down, you’re ready to know that you’re “LIFTING HEAVY”. 

But what IS heavy?!

The truth is… “heavy” is different for everyone. 

It’s most important to know what heavy feels like for you! Whether your goals are to lose weight, get that goal physique, or just get stronger, you’ll need to be lifting heavy to get there. Or in other words: challenging your current capabilities.  To progress, you’ll need to try to do things you’ve never done before.

As a busy momma, you likely carry a heavy purse, growing toddler, and $200 worth of groceries all at once.  You are stronger than you may be giving yourself credit for.  There’s not much challenge for you in a 2 pound dumbbell if you lift a 10 pound purse daily, right?   Let your training reflect your current strength and desire to get stronger. 

5 Steps to Lifting Heavy

1. Learn to Move Properly

Self assess where you are currently. Can you do the strength training movement with body weight only? Are you moving correctly following the “form” tips in your Busy Mom Gets Fit Plan?

Always master basic form first.  Try the movement with body weight only or you could do a squat, for example, with a broom stick before you start adding weight to a barbell.  A few common movements you may want to set a goal to master form are the squat, deadlift, lunge, and bench press. 

2. Try Heavier Weight

If you’ve mastered the movement patterns and you feel comfortable, grab the barbell or a heavier set of dumbbells next. A standard olympic barbell weighs 45 pounds. Depending on the movement, that could feel like a big jump or an appropriate next step. 

If your form is solid with the barbell or a light dumbbell, you’re ready to add weight. If not, master the lighter weight first before moving on. Expect a steady increase of progress. 

Often for many women, it’s not that they are not strong enough to lift heavy, they lack the confidence to try.  Once you realize that you CAN… maybe that’s all you need to move forward.

A common start is to add 5-10 pound increments and see how you do. If the weight is easy for you to complete your required number of sets, try adding 5-10 more pounds.  Ideally, your “heavy” weight is when the last 2-3 repetitions in a set are very difficult but you still keep great form.  If you feel your back arch or you lose form in another way, drop back down in weight. 

3. Have a Plan

Now that you know what it feels like to test your strength limits safely, you’re going to gradually increase the weight you lift as you get stronger to reach your goals. This is called PROGRESSIVE OVERLOAD. No matter where you started, you’re able to make progress if you keep at it.  This is why I love lifting with the barbell, slowly you start adding those plates and it’s so EMPOWERING!!

With proper sleep and nutrition, you’re going to heal and get stronger from week to week. For beginners, it's common for you to see “gains” in every workout.  

The Busy Mom Gets Fit Next Step Plan is a solid plan to teach you to lift with dumbbells and the barbell and to continue to progress.

4. Don’t Get Stuck

If you’re lifting the exact same weight at the same rep range for months, you're becoming more efficient, not stronger. It’s time for a change.

Each week aim to challenge your muscles with the weight you lift.

5. No EGO Allowed

To progress, you have to challenge yourself but that level of “heavy” is different for everyone.  You can’t compare yourself as a beginner to someone that’s been training for strength for years.  If you are working hard and challenging your muscles, you are lifting heavy!  Always practice good form, even if you need the smaller bar, a dumbbell, or body weight.  Don’t let ego make you move too quickly…. we want you safe!

As busy moms, we can get stronger, lift OUR heavy, and over time load that bar up!