Too light? Too heavy? Finding the right weight for strength training is not so easy. A fitness trainer explains with which tricks it succeeds.
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Personal trainer Tamara Pridgett knows all about weights – and therefore knows exactly that many people struggle with the right choice.
Because once you’re in the gym, many people rely on their ego: Don’t choose a weight that’s significantly lower than the previous weight.
Those who train with weights that can only just be lifted, however, are not doing their bodies any favors – and certainly not helping them to build muscle particularly quickly.
Compound exercises are more effective for building muscle
Before it comes to the specific choice of weight, the expert clarifies a few basic things about strength training:
"Especially if you want to lose body fat and build muscle, you should know that not all exercises are equal. For this reason, experts recommend performing so-called multijoint movements, compound exercises to build muscle and burn more calories as well as fat," explains Pridgett.
In weight training, we also talk about compound exercises – these are the squat, deadlift, overhead press, bench press and the pull-up.
You also have to make sure that you do a sufficient number of sets and repetitions to build up muscle mass.
"The last extremely important factor is that you lift the right weight," the fitness trainer continues.
Strength training: Too light? Too heavy?
A good indicator that the weight is too light: "The feeling of being able to do an infinite number of repetitions without rest," Pridgett says. This may be good for your self-confidence, but it won’t help you get stronger.
According to the expert, if the weight is too heavy, the exercise will not be performed properly and the planned number of sets and repetitions will not be achievable.
To get the most out of strength training sessions, be clear about what the goal is in doing so: endurance, maximum muscle growth (hypertrophy), or maximum strength?
"Once you know that, you can determine exactly how much weight you should optimally use – and how often to do the exercises," she says.
Finding the right weight for muscle building
Rule of thumb is to find a weight that is still challenging in the last reps of an exercise, but can also be maintained over multiple sets.
Even more accurately can find out the optimal weight according to Pridgett with this method: First, test what is the maximum weight you can lift for three to five repetitions of a particular exercise for a long time.
Then you enter maximum weight and the number of repetitions you performed into a repetition calculator.
"The calculator shows a list of the percentages that can be lifted to a maximum. Depending on the individual goal, you can now read in the following table which number of sets and repetitions and which weight is most suitable," the expert explains further.
She recommends using the method especially for classics like squats, deadlifts, bench presses and bicep curls.