When to Move Up in Weight
Getting results from lifting relies on being able to progressively overload your muscles, which means at some point you have to step it up to keep it challenging.
What's progressive overload you ask? Put simply, it is just gradually increasing weight, frequency, or reps in your training sessions. In your case, it’ll mostly be increasing weight. You don’t want to use the same weight for weeks at a time unless you've been increasing for a long time. The goal should be to get stronger. If one weight starts to feel too easy, try going up to the next weight.
So the question is: How do you know when it’s time to up your weights and lift heavier?
WHAT’S YOUR STARTING POINT?
First, assess where you’re at in your fitness journey. If you’re new to strength training, you may notice feeling like you’re ready to move up in weight relatively quickly. Believe it or not, that’s not always due to putting on actual muscle. It can sometimes 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.
The FIT by Katy app allows you to track every weight, rep and set directly on the exercise so you’ll never forget where you left off last session!
ASSESS YOUR GOALS
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. Set a timeline on when you want to move up in weight but be open to adjusting depending on how your body feels.
As you probably know, each day in the gym can look different. If you’re able to safely lift a heavier weight one day, but the next day you can’t, that’s okay! Listen to your body and don’t get discouraged.
IT’S ALL ABOUT FORM
If you’re able to complete a full set of reps with perfect form, it may be time to grab some heavier weights. Sure, you can increase other things like time under tension or rep count. But to really see a change in your muscles you need to go for the bigger weights. Once you increase your weight, you may need to decrease your reps to continue to have perfect form for each set.
Even if the exercise seems easy, it’s important to make sure your form is on-point. 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 lower back when you deadlift? Chances are you could be misaligned. If that’s the case, you shouldn’t move to a heavier weight just yet. Fix your form first and then reassess.
Remember! In the FIT by Katy app there’s a correlating video to every single movement, and it’s partnered with a description – make sure you’re watching and reading on any new movements!
You should never sacrifice form to finish a rep. You’ll know you’ve hit a challenging weight when you begin to fatigue during the last 2-3 reps of your set. 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.
SLOW YOUR ROLL
If you’re flying through your sets and could even add some more reps in at the end, it’s time to go heavier. On the flip side, 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.
With Progressive Overload, we’re working at a higher weight and longer rest time. If your working time is feeling easy, up the weight and keep the same rest time. If you need to take a longer rest because you’re pretty tired after one set, chances are you may need to decrease a bit to keep up with the program while still keeping it challenging.
Here are some quick options if you want to cut to the chase.
- Use the "2 for 2" rule: when you can do two more reps with a weight than you started out with for two consecutive workouts, increase the weight.
- Start small: start increasing each session by 1-5 pounds until you feel you’re struggling to keep great form for your last two reps. Stay there until you’re ready to increase again.
- Go slow: you may not actually need to increase weights yet, but you need more time under tension. Pay attention to how quickly you’re moving through reps.
- Track! Use the FBK app to track your weights, reps and sets so you know if you are, or are not, actually progressing.