People ask me all the time when they are supposed to increase the weight they are using while in the gym. The answer is simple! But first let me go over a few important tips.
- You never want to sacrifice your form so that you can lift a heavier weight. If you feel like you are using your lower back or your shoulders are up by your ears, chances are you need to take the weight down a bit and maybe the reps as well.
- Lifting heavy weights will make women bulky. This is a huge common misconception. I have had numerous clients tell me they are worried about lifting any weight over 3 or 5 pounds because they don’t want to get ‘big’. The truth is that the more muscle you have the more fat you will burn. You want to lift heavy weights to increase your muscle to fat ratio. In order to bulk you would need to eat an excess calories, lift heavy weights, and do low reps.
- Engage your core. 80% of people have lower back pain. Most lower back pain is caused by lack of engaging core muscles. Your abs are your stabilizer muscles for the core of your body. Make sure you are bracing your abs when you do any exercise. Bracing you abs means pulling in your core and not hyper extending your back. Imagine you are about to be punched in the stomach or that you have to pee really bad. That engagement of your core muscles is called bracing your core. Try is in your daily life and when you are in the gym. The more your core muscles are engaged all day the stronger they will get!
- Breath. Seems like common sense-right? You would be surprised that breathing is the first thing people stop doing when they are working out. It is super normal to stop breathing when you are focusing, especially when you are doing something new and trying to remember to keep your abs in, shoulders down, etc. So, if you struggle with this, just focus on the exhale each time you bring the weight up. You will naturally inhale if you exhale. Breathing actually makes lifting weights easier.
Now that you know the tips about heavy lifting, let’s go over when and how you should increase the weight you are using in the gym.
- You want to be able to get through 2-3 sets of each exercise (ideally 3)
- You want the last 2 reps of each set to be hard (like you wish you weren’t doing them)
- You want to be able to do 10-15 reps of each exercise
Now….If you can easily do 12 reps of the exercise without the last 2 reps being hard it is time to increase you reps to 15. If you can do all 15 reps without the last 2 reps being hard, it is time to INCREASE YOUR WEIGHT.
Once you have increased you weight you can try to start back at your standard 12 reps. However, if you can only get to 8-10 the first couple times you are trying this heavier weight that is just fine. You will be back up to 12 reps and then 15 reps in no time! You will continue this pattern as you increase your weight over time. You are typically increasing your weights every 4 weeks.
You can challenge yourself with balance, alternating arms/legs or with circuit training. Try doing your biceps curls while standing on a Bosu Ball or while standing on one leg. You can also try alternating legs when doing lunges or try walking lunges instead of just doing stationary lunges. Lastly, you can make an exercise into a compound exercise: squat with a shoulder press.
Remember, our bodies adapt quickly that is why we need to be change up our workouts to avoid Plateauing. For more tips in health and fitness visit: http://www.ashleylanefitness.com/.
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