If you’re able to complete a full set of reps with perfect form, it may be time to grab some heavier weights. If you're lifting heavier, you may need to decrease your reps, and that's okay! It's progress over perfection, but never sacrifice form to finish a rep. You’ll know you’ve hit your ideal weight when you begin to fatigue during the last 2-3 reps of your set.
However, it doesn’t mean just because the exercise is easy that it’s time to go heavier. Take an assessment of your form and make sure that it truly is 100% before moving up. Are you feeling a little tweak in your knee every time you squat? Chances are you could be misaligned.PRO TIP: Even the slightest increase in weight can make a lift feel entirely different. Just be sure to lift safely and realistically against your fitness goals. Just because you can lift heavier doesn't mean you should lift as much as you can if your program calls for higher rep schemes. You can read more about the different training styles and how to apply them here.
SLOW DOWN, SIS
If your last few reps got you feeling out of breath, that’s a good thing! A set that feels slow and strenuous means you’re using the right amount of weight. If you’re flying through the set and could even add some more reps in at the end, it’s time to go heavier.
Consider your rest time as well. Play around with how long to break and see if making it a little shorter adds some challenge to your sets. If you need to take a longer rest because you’re pretty tired after one set, chances are your weight is in the right place.PRO TIP: For maximum power and strength, rest 2-5 minutes between sets. To build muscle as quickly as possible, your sweet spot should be 30-90 seconds between sets.
ASSESS YOUR GOALS
Your personal goals and journey play a big role in where you want to be when lifting. If you’re a newbie to strength training, you may notice a dramatic increase in strength in the very beginning. Surprisingly, that’s not always due to putting on actual muscle, but sometimes it could be neurological changes, too! Your brain and muscles are learning to communicate and work together efficiently, which may lead to being able to go heavier.
If your goals are to see changes in your overall health and strength, then adding weight safely is the way to go. Think about where you’d like to be in 3 weeks, 6 months, and 1 year then set some SMART goals to hit those benchmarks by upping your weight or increasing your reps.
PRO TIP: Some days working out will be better than others. If you hit a heavier weight one day, but next time you can’t, that’s okay! Listen to your body and don’t get discouraged!
At the end of the day, it’s all about listening to your body and what feels good for you. By using our 3 tips, you’ll be able to level up with heavier weights and start seeing results in no time. You've got this!