The Right Weight Class And When To Go Up
Resistance training is all about getting the repetitions right and the weight selection right. Often if one of those elements is accurate the other will fall into place. The best one to get right is the weight selection; getting that right can make sure you are in the right area of working out to make it effective and difficult without being uncomfortable or dangerous. So how do you know where that weight class is and when to go up? Let's find out!
When finding out what weight selection you should go for right now the first thing that should come to mind is exploration. How do you explore? Well you don't go really heavy and see when the pain goes away! Always always always start lighter and go heavier. This is a simple health aspect. Now unfortunately this process can be a bit lengthy in terms of getting the selection absolutely right. For some it can take one session, and can even take a week's worth of exercise sessions to get absolutely right. So what is the process exactly for this? Read on my dear chap.
First assess what you are trying to do in the gym. Are you going from a natural start? If you are looking to start more resistance training then you are at this start. This would mean that you are looking for a weight selection that allows you to do around 12-15 repetitions with the last 2 making your muscle feel like being wobbly. After 30 seconds of a rest following this first set of repetitions, repeat this process one to two more times (i recommend 2 more). Those last 2 reps i referred to earlier should be very difficult if not wanting you to give up before you can finish those last two. If you bossed those three repetitions and raced through the last 2 reps then the weight is too light. If you struggled to get to half of the 12-15 repetitions at any point of the process then the weight is too heavy (though at your discretion it could be fine if you failed at around repetition number 8+ on the third repeated set). Whatever exercise, whatever resistance weight you have chosen that is the general way of finding out where you are. Write it down when you find that perfect selection (the mind is good for forgetting things like this). Ta da. You are ready to go. Don't get frustrated by this process. You really only have to do it once.
This process might have to be repeated but only in exceptional circumstances such as coming back from a long lay off from injury, holiday or illness. But even then you should at least be able to guess with a bit more accuracy than at the beginning!
So now we have understood how to find your right weight selection let's find out when it is right to go up a weight class. This can be a simple transition from one weighted dumbell to its heavier next-door neighbour. Funnily enough the key to knowing when you are ready to go up a weight class is similar to finding out your weight selection when you begin. did you race through the last few repetitions in your last set? Consider then going up a weight class! It's that easy! The last few repetitions of every set especially the last one should be quite difficult; the kind of difficult that makes you want to close your eyes or stick out your tongue or grunt a bit to try to get through. Be very self critical and aware of this as ultimately it will be only you who knows when it's time and when things are getting easier.
How often might the necessity to go up a weight class occur? Well that depends on a few things; your body's ability to build muscle after your workout (doesn't happen during!) your training regime (your training type e.g. muscle endurance or hypertrophy - refer to other TDL Fitness articles about that) and your training discipline (how often you train). Typically going up a weight class would happen every 8 to 12 weeks but this is a mean figure. Don't take it as gospel. Some people when they start out find that they can go up a weight class every couple of weeks. This jump does get slower and slower the heavier you go.
Of course always play with weight selection when thinking about how many repetitions and sets you are going to do. Refer to the pyramid of training to find out more!