When you’re just starting out strength training at the gym, one of the biggest questions you might have is, “Which weight should I use?”
Of course, there’s no single answer to that question—it depends on your individual fitness level and goals. And if you’re new to the gym, you might not know what your goals are yet!
But here are a few guidelines to help you choose the right weights for strength training.
Choose a Weight That’s Heavy Enough (But Not Too Heavy)
When it comes to weight training, you always want to make sure you’re using weights that are heavy enough to challenge your muscles, but not so heavy that you risk injury. The key is to find a balance that allows you to push yourself without overexerting yourself. This will be different for everyone, and will depend on your individual fitness level and strength.
You need to choose a weight that is heavy enough to “challenge” your muscles to grow, but you also want to be able to lift the weight multiple times and get a good workout, without putting yourself at risk of injury.
If you’re a beginner, start by lifting weights that are light enough to allow you to do at least 10-15 repetitions of each exercise. As you get stronger, you can gradually increase the weight.
For most exercises, you want to use a weight that feels challenging by the last few reps, but not so challenging that you can’t complete all the reps.
Ultimately, it’s important to listen to your body and experiment with different weights to see what works best for you. If something feels too easy or too hard, adjust accordingly.
If You’re Not Just Starting to Struggle By The Last Couple Reps – Your Weight May Be Too Light
If a weight is too light, you’ll still get some of the health benefits from moving your body, but you won’t see your strength or overall fitness/sport performance improve in any meaningful way. Your muscles need to be challenged in order for them to grow, so if you’re not struggling by the last few reps of each set, the weight is probably too light.
Remember: you should be able to complete all of your reps with good form, and feel like you could do a couple more reps if you really pushed yourself.
If You’re Struggling Halfway (or Sooner) into Your Reps – The Weight May Be Too Heavy
If a weight is too heavy, you won’t be able to complete all your reps with good form. This puts you at risk of injury, and also means you’re not getting the most out of your workout.
If you’re struggling halfway or earlier into your reps, try lightening the weight slightly and see if that makes a difference. Often, just a small weight adjustment can make a surprisingly big difference in the difficulty of the exercise.
There’s no shame in starting with lighter weights—everyone at the gym has to start somewhere! The important thing is that you’re challenging yourself, and making progress towards your fitness goals.
Remember: You Can Always Adjust
Finally, remember that it’s always okay to adjust your weights during a workout if you need to. If something feels too easy or too hard, don’t be afraid to make a change.
There’s no need to stick to a certain weight just because that’s what you started with. The whole point of working out is to challenge yourself, so make sure you’re always challenging your muscles—but in a safe and effective way.
It’s important to find a balance between using weights that are too light and weights that are too heavy. If you’re not sure, err on the side of caution and start with a lighter weight. You can always increase the weight as you get stronger.
Choosing the right weight at the gym normally takes some trial and error: In general, you want a weight where you can finish all of the reps in your final set of exercises, but feel like you’re really struggling on the last two or three reps. If you can finish that final set easily, it’s time to increase the weight a bit. If you can’t finish all of the reps in a set, move down to a lighter weight.
When you’re strength training, always listen closely to your body and be willing to adjust as you need to. With a little trial and error, you’ll find the perfect weight for you and your workout routine.