How to Choose Weights for Workout Correctly

Is there a sense of choosing the right weights for workout? Does the amount of weight matter in growing muscles?

The science behind weights for workout

In bodybuilding, the intensity of the load is usually calculated on the basis of a one-repeat maximum (1RM). For muscle hypertrophy, the absolute strength of a particular muscle group is not important, and a gain in strength in a one-repeat maximum (1RM) will allow you to amuse your own ego, and of course, increase the chance of injury. In bodybuilding, an increase in strength indicators is significant when working in the appropriate mode, which involves choosing the number of repetitions in the set.

For example, I bench pressed a barbell of 100 kg 10 times, and after a month, the weight on the bar in the same number of repetitions is already 107.5 kg – this is an increase in strength in a particular mode.

The strategy of choosing how much to lift

weights workout

When reaching the working weight, it is necessary to choose the step of increasing the load correctly. This is necessary, first of all, in order to prepare the ligamentous – muscular apparatus for maximum loads and to enable the central nervous system to generate an electrical impulse, which allows activating the maximum number of motor units.

You can draw an analogy with a manual gearbox in a car. First, you need to start in the first gear, then the second, third, and fourth. Is it possible from the first to the third? You can, but remember what happens to the motor when you do this.

Either you have to spin up to high speeds on the first one, which additionally loads the engine, or it starts to choke, but only a very negligent driver will think of trying to switch from the first to the fourth.

Example of weights for workout

Using the bench press as an example, let us try to consider reaching the working weight—the estimated weight of 100 kg for 12 repetitions.

The first warm-up set for 15-20 reps with an empty bar and followed by a rest of about 1 minute or as much as it takes to restore breathing. The objective of this set is to intensify the blood flow to the muscles.

The set doesn’t result in acidification, and therefore, usually, 1-1.5 minutes is sufficient to repay the oxygen debt, i.e., pulse reduction to a state of rest + 20-30%.

weights workout
IG: @cbum

Next comes the second warm-up set, and on the projectile, we have about 50% of the estimated working weight, that is, 50 kg for 6-8 repetitions and then rest for about 1 minute or as much as it takes to restore breathing. The intensity (weight) increases, and the volume (the number of repetitions) decreases.

There are practically no acidifications, as well as a substantial decrease in the reserves of creatine phosphate.

Next comes the set with a weight of about 80-85% of the estimated working weight for 3-5 repetitions, followed by a rest of about 1-2 minutes or as much as needed to restore breathing and then exit to a working set.

Of course, depending on the absolute weight, the number of warm-up sets will be different, and during squats with a barbell with a weight of 30 and 230 kg, it will be different.

How to build your workout plan

  • First and second sets are warm-up;
  • Third-near to working weights;
  • The fourth is working.

It is important to remember that in the warm-up and “near to working weights” sets, the exercise should not be performed and lead to acidification or simply to fatigue.

Additionally, find out whether the number of sets matters to build muscle.

What is more, why not read “How long should you rest between sets“?