How to choose the right weight for your strength training
Finding the right weight for strength training can be challenging. Depending on the training goal, there are different options. Therefore, here are a few tips on how you can find the right weight for your optimal training.
With how much weight should I train?
How much weight you should work with depends on your goals. To build strength, you must work with heavy weights for at least part of your workout. When building muscle mass, you can train with a variety of weights. Both light weights with high repetitions and heavy weights with fewer repetitions will bring you closer to your goal. The only important thing is that you must constantly adjust the weights to your performance level during regular training. Without professional guidance, this can also be a process of trial and error.
How to find the right weight
Depending on your fitness level, your training program can consist of 5 to 10 exercises with three sets and 12 repetitions each. All major muscle groups should be used. And this is how you can determine the ideal weight for a particular exercise:
- You choose a weight with which you can do the first set of 12 reps reasonably well.
- The second set should be much more difficult for you. However, it would be best if you did not get into the press breathing.
- You should find the last two to three repetitions in the third set very difficult. However, you should be able to do them without pressing breaths.
- Take a break of 30 to 60 seconds between the sets. Here you can read more about pausing during strength training.
The right training for general fitness
For beginners and those fit people who want to maintain their level, 3 sets of 8 to 12 repetitions are just right. The last three repetitions in each set may be heavier. It is crucial that all muscle groups – hips, legs, abdomen, chest, back, shoulders, and arms – are trained two to three days a week.
Improve muscle strength
The best results are achieved with 2 to 5 sets of 3 to 5 repetitions. You should work with as high weights as possible. Necessary: Before working with this training method, you should already have a certain fitness level. And, of course, you must be able to perform the technique correctly, even when fatigue sets in. Two, better three, or four training sessions per week are ideal.
Training for hypertrophy
You can achieve an increase in muscle mass either with a few repetitions and very high weights or slightly lower weights with 8 to 12 repetitions per set. The key to increasing muscle size is volume. To do this, you need to do more sets and repetitions during the training process. You can spread these extra sets and reps throughout your weekly workouts. More tips:
- For beginners, 1 to 3 sets of 8 to 12 repetitions per exercise with a moderate load (70% to 85% of the one-repetition maximum) are ideal.
- Advanced exercisers who want to continue to build muscle mass can perform 3 to 6 sets of 1 to 12 repetitions at 70% to 100% of the one-repetition maximum. Proven to be most effective for optimal muscle growth are 12 to 28 sets per muscle group per week, spread over 3 to 5 training days. Here is the corresponding study.
When should I add more weight?
The answer here is simple: if you find the last repetition of an exercise easy, you should increase your weight. This fundamental principle of strength training is called progressive overload. You must challenge your body with weights regularly; otherwise, you risk a training plateau. Read more about this in this study. And one more tip: If your current weight isn’t challenging enough, but the next weight up is too heavy, you have two options for reaching the right fatigue state:
- You do one, two or three fewer reps with the heavier weight.
- You stay at the current weight and increase by two to four reps.