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Remember to Increase Your Resistance Weight

You Asked: Time for Heavier Weights?

You're asking and I'm answering . . .

"I've been working out for a while now but I usually just pick up the same 5 lb. dumbbells each time. It seems hard enough, but I'm worried I am wasting my time and not using the right amount of weight. I don't want to overdo it and be super sore the next day either. How can I tell?"
- Weighted Willa

You're not alone, a lot of folks start with one weight and never think to increase it. Here is the thing: if you never increase your weight, you'll never increase your results. So while you're not necessarily wasting your time (you are making an effort, which is more than a lot of people can say), you're also not necessarily making any progress either. There are a few easy ways to know when it's time to increase your weights so pay attention to the next time you do any weight lifting — they are:

  • If you've been lifting the same amount of weight for six months now — increase the weight.
  • If the muscle (or muscles) you're working never feels exhausted and you could literally do 100 more reps and sets, no problem — increase the weight.
  • If it feels easy and you're not seeing any progress in your strength as well as your results — increase the weight.


Join The Conversation
Spectra Spectra 9 years
I lift heavy weights (well, the heaviest ones I can right now...I'm nursing a bad elbow injury at the moment) and I've never gotten "bulky"; just toned and lean. Right now, I'm working a lot on my arms so they're all bareable for tank top season!!
Berlin Berlin 9 years
Guys...err ladies...I'm 5'7, 102lbs, super lean and I lift 30lbs weights...if you see my pics I'm anything but bulked:) Women won't bulk up from lifting, it's a common myth. They don't have enough testosterone. To look like the women who are in the fitness competitions, you'd have to be on major supplements and steroids! Trust me, that's what they do. You may look bigger if you build muscle on top of the layer of fat that is already there. Which is why you need to add in cardio and healthy eating with your strength training. To give you an idea of what I lift...biceps I do 15's, triceps I do 30s, squats I do 110, leg press 180, leg extensions at 115, hamstrings at 75, calves at 110 (or standing calves while holding a 25 plate), inner thigh at 130 and outer thigh at 90. The point is that you have to adjust for what you want to do. If you want strength training for fat burning, then you want each set to have about 12-15 reps, and at the end of 15 you should NOT be able to do any more!! If you want it to build nice lean muscle and tone up, then you want your sets to be between 6-10. And again you should not be able to do any more at the end of the set, and you should have to wait about 2 minutes before you can get up and do another set. If you can talk during it or jump up and do another set, then you need to increase. Plus, if you lift heavy weights and are a chick, you get so much more respect from guys and they all think it's uber hot:)
Ikandy Ikandy 9 years
i use 7lbs and it kills me...
smellen smellen 9 years
I am using either 8 lbs. or 10 lbs. for different exercises (at home), but I am having a hard time adjusting to the 10 lbs. I guess it has only been about 4 weeks, so I should give it time. I agree with latent/dunnonuttin: especially after reading about how Madonna's trainer said to never use anything more than 3 lbs. -- wtf?! That makes no sense to me. My goal is to finally be able to do regular push ups, and lifting lil' 3 pounders doesn't seem like I will get any closer than I already am, which is still a far way off from my goal.
dunnonuttin dunnonuttin 9 years
lol @ latent. Me too.
aimeeb aimeeb 9 years
Thanks Fit!!
latent latent 9 years
I wish the myth that a female will 'bulk up' from lifting more than 10-15 lbs would die. Just die.
Linda-McP Linda-McP 9 years
Thanks, Fit. This was the advice I needed.
Lovely_1 Lovely_1 9 years
I am afaraid if I increase anymore, I will start to get too big. I am doing 12 pounds right now, which is still tough...but I want more definition without bulking up!
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