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What WEIGHT should be I be USING?!

Let’s say you are in a commercial gym with countless pieces of equipment and you have an idea of what to work out; whether it be shoulders, back or legs. You get to the machine and you are stumped because you have no idea HOW MUCH weight you are supposed to lift. As fitness professionals, we get these types of questions all the time. How much weight should I use to achieve ‘this goal’? How much weight should I use to get explosive power? Etc. This article will break down weight recommendations for various types of goals. A personal trainer in Richmond can give you recommendations on weight chosen.

So how much? My advice to answering majority of fitness or health related question is to refer back to the GOAL. What are you trying to accomplish? That will steer you in the right direction with regards to weight selection. The general population will generally focus on health, moving better and injury prevention. The injured population will lean towards pain management and rehabilitation. The ones to look for an athletic edge will direct their attention to explosiveness, power and speed. Depending on what the goal is, we will use that to determine their weight.

GOAL: General fitness, moving better and injury prevention
This goal relates to majority of gym-goers are they are there to improve their overall health. The volume of work recommended is not particularly high but should push them to their limits. For majority of exercises, I would recommend repetitions from 10 – 15 (20 repetitions for more endurance based). Now, the weights you choose to use within this rep range is determined by how it is felt. For example if I use a 25 pound kettle-bell for a squat and I target 15 repetitions, that 25 pound should be a struggle by the end of the 15 repetitions. It is an honour system and you need to ask yourself honestly if it is heavy enough for you to acquire the gains. You may want to increase the weight if it does not challenge you. The main idea here is to choose a weight that will push you within the repetition ranges.

GOAL: Pain management and rehabilitation
The main goal here is to manage pain symptoms and rehabilitate injured areas. I won’t get into the specifics of rehab, but the recommended practice is to increase muscular endurance of the targeted muscle. The repetition range I would recommend is from 15 – 25 repetitions. If you choose to load the muscle with a strength goal in mind, you would use 15 repetitions. This way, the weight cannot be too heavy to aggravate the symptom but heavy enough to target strength gains. Closer to 25 repetitions, this is used for very light muscular-endurance training. This is mainly used to rehab new injuries. The weight you choose should challenge you by the time you reach the desired repetition range. Ask yourself honestly: can you go heavier? A personal trainer in Richmond can provide recommendations for pain management.

GOAL: Explosiveness, power and speed
This one is a bit more specialized as it mainly targets individuals with a strength training base and background. For explosiveness, the weight chosen should still allow the individual to perform the exercise with speed. Let’s take a jump squat for an example, if using a 25 pound kettle-bell and that will allow me to perform at maximum speed and explosiveness, I would recommend that. If using a 35 pound kettle-bell will slow me down, I would regress back down to 25 pound until I am ready. The main idea here is to use the maximum weight but still allowing maximum speed. Power equates to how fast you can move a load. This will in turn transfer into sport specific training and ultimately into the game. A personal trainer in Richmond can program an explosive training program with proper weight selection.

Just to finish up, how do we determine if a weight is right for us? If we are completely unsure, I would recommend beginning with a warm-up set at a lower weight to “test out” the weight. If that is manageable, then increase the weight for your first set. The main idea is to challenge yourself to a struggle at the end of the recommended repetition range – but never to failure!
Until next time,

Coach Marco

Marco is a top personal trainer and kinesiologist at Crux Fitness

Crux Fitness is the top personal training studio in Richmond, Surrey