When and how to increase weights for beginners. Why beginners? Because I hope experienced people do not have such questions. So, those who train less than half a year or a year, I think, are newcomers, and they are obliged to grow and become stronger, and they should add decently, but stupid tips often prevent them from progressing.
How to Increase the Weight You Lift
Having achieved certain results in the gym, it is worth considering how to increase weight, the number of repetitions, or increase the complexity of exercises depending on your goals. Our instructions will help you determine when it is time to increase working weight and do it right.
Exercising with the same weight, you come to stagnation, and not only in muscle growth but also in losing weight. Your body adapts to the load, and after training, you get neither stress nor burned calories.
Increasing working weight is a prerequisite for classes both in the gym and at home. However, increasing it too quickly will not do anything good and may even lead to injury.
We’ve already talked about how to pick the needed weight, but how to increase it without getting injured?
When to increase working weight
The rule “two for two”
If you want to increase muscle mass, then most likely, you use a small number of repetitions and a large weight close to a one-repeated maximum.
It is important to understand that for progress, the weight must be such that the last repetition in the set is on the verge of muscle failure. The “two for two” rule allows you to determine when you stop exercising until muscle failure.
This rule was proposed by Thomas Baechle in the Essentials of Strength Training and Conditioning. This is how it sounds.
If in the last set of any exercise you can do two repetitions more and do the last two exercises, it’s time to increase weight.
For example, you do 4 sets of 8 repetitions of bicep curls. If you can do 10 repetitions in the last set, two workouts in a row, then it’s time to increase weight.
There is another, faster option on how to increase weights – a fixed set scheme.
If your plan includes 4 sets of 10 reps and in the last set, you can perform the exercise as many times as in the first set, it’s time to increase the weight.
When you try to perform an exercise with a new weight, the number of repetitions in the sets naturally decreases. For example, in the first set, you will be able to perform 10 repetitions, in the second – only 8, and in the third and fourth – by 6. This is a completely normal scheme for mastering a new weight.
Gradually, you will increase the number of repetitions in the set until you can complete 10 repetitions in all four sets. This means that it is time to increase the weight again.
Unlike the previous “two for two” scheme, in this case, you will not have to test yourself with the help of additional repetitions in the last set. As soon as the number of repetitions in all sets is equal – increase the weight.
What scheme to use? Choose yourself. In my opinion, the rule “two for two” allows you to make training safer and make sure that with increasing weight, the technique will not suffer.
How to increase weights in pyramidal exercises? In pyramidal training, both the working weight and the number of repetitions change.
In the ascending pyramid, you start with a large number of repetitions with a small working weight and gradually increase it, reducing the number of repetitions. For example, in the first set, you do a deadlift with a barbell of 60 kg 12 times, then 10 times 65 kg, 8 times 70 kg, and 6 times 75 kg.
Warm-up sets with low weight are not performed until muscle failure. This should only happen in the latest sets with the highest weight.
The descending pyramid, on the contrary, begins with short sets with the highest weight: exercises are performed until the muscles completely fail. In subsequent sets, the weight decreases, and the number of repetitions increases.
To increase weight in pyramidal training is necessary in the same way as with a fixed number of repetitions. It is best to navigate by the shortest set with the heaviest weight.
If in the most difficult set to muscle failure, you can perform more repetitions than it should be according to the program, it is time to increase weight in all sets, including “warm-up” ones with a large number of repetitions and low weight.
If you are just starting out, you can increase weight by 5–10%, if you have been practicing for quite some time – by 2–5%. Usually, this is 1-2 kg for small muscle groups and 2-5 kg for large ones.
How to increase weights when doing home exercises
You can use universal rubber fitness bands/resistance bands. If you are just starting to do fitness, they can be used to facilitate the implementation of some exercises with your own weight, but if you, on the contrary, need to increase the load, the bands will help to do this without dumbbells and discs.
Each resistance band corresponds to a certain number of kilograms. For example, there are bands that create a tension similar to 23 kg, and there are thin models that replace only 5 kg.
As a rule, they are distributed by color, and each manufacturer has its own weight ranges. This is a kind of support with which you can develop target muscle groups and prepare for exercises with your own weight.
The same applies to pull-ups, squats on one leg, floor dips, parallel bar dips, and other exercises. As you progress, change the elastic bands to thinner ones or increase the number of repetitions.
Also, such tapes can be used to complicate exercises with your own weight or available free weights. And after training with them, you can do stretching exercises.
And another opportunity to increase the load outside the gym is to perform more complex exercises. For example, the deadlift with dumbbells can be complicated by performing it on one leg, the usual push-ups can be replaced with push-ups in the handstand, and the usual squats with one-leg “pistol” squats.
To avoid injury, increase the difficulty gradually and learn more about the technique for each exercise.
When you should not increase weight
When increasing weight, carefully monitor whether this affects the exercise technique.
For example, if you increased the weight on the bar during squats and after the first set, your knees began to curl inward, and your back – to bend, then it is too early for you to increase weight.
Accustomed to doing the exercises incorrectly, you harm your health and increase the risk of injuries in the future. Therefore, if you feel that you can not perform the exercise correctly, it is better to reduce weight and fix the correct performance.
Recommendations on How to Increase Weights
I recommend focusing on a limited set of exercises, mostly multi-joint ones, and be sure to keep a training diary. As I wrote earlier in the first 6 months of training, I recommend choosing a range of repetitions in the set of about 12-15, while training the whole body in one session from 2 to 3 times a week, and starting from six months add a range of 6-8 repetitions. ⠀
Take the bench press exercise as an example. After three months of training, the newcomer increased his result in the bench press from 40 to 55 kg by 12 repetitions and fell into my hands.
We begin to train without increasing weight, i.e., from 55 on 12, we gradually reach 14 repetitions, which most likely will take 2-3 weeks. Then I increase the weight of the barbell to 60 kg, and he will probably do 60 kg for 11-12, then a few more weeks, during which we will get to 14 repetitions, etc.
Please note that you do not need to make any attempts to force events and climb to large weights; you do not need to interfere with the adaptation of the nervous system and muscle growth. Somewhere in a year or so of classes, this kind of progression will be exhausted, and then I would suggest that he switch to linear periodization. You can have a different point of view, do it differently and progress very well, but for most, this method will let you evenly increase strength, grow, and not lose motivation.
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