Tag Archive for weight lifting

How do I Know How Much Weight to Use in the Gym?

How do I Know How Much Weight to Use in the Gym?IMG_0151

This is probably one of the most common questions I get from clients and friends alike. It makes sense, as everyone comes from a different level of strength and there isn’t really a “guide” that will tell you what weights you should be using. (Side note: Comparing yourself to other people is NOT the way to determine this.)

We are used to looking at a chart to let us know where we fall within a category.

  • If we are a certain height and weight, we should ideally be within a certain body fat range for optimal performance.
  • If we look at our height, weight, and activity level, we can determine approximately how many calories we should be eating on a daily basis.
  • If your heart rate is at a certain level, a chart at the gym will tell you what “zone” you’re in (I have an entire post on this topic coming in the next few weeks as well)

But when it comes to the weight room, no such chart exists. It leaves people doing the same weights with the same rep ranges for YEARS and wondering why they don’t see changes. It is a factor that pushes people to “confuse their muscles” because their current program is “broken”. So let’s break this down once and for all so you can start seeing results in the gym and feel confident that you’re using the correct weights for YOU (remember, everyone is different, ESPECIALLY when it comes to strength).

A Simple Way to Determine What Weights you Should be Using and How to Progress Each Week

1. It’s important to start out by having a plan when you walk into the gym. Whether that is a program that you got from a coach, a plan you printed off from the internet, or just a workout that you or a friend jotted down onto a sticky note, always walk into the gym with an idea of what you’ll be doing.

2. Buy a journal or notebook so that you can track your weights and reps. I know many people that will say “oh it’s ok, I remember all my numbers!”. I’m sure you do….until you don’t and you end up looking like a lost puppy in the gym. Just don’t be stubborn and write your damn workouts down. 🙂

3. Be sure that at the very least, there is a number of sets and a rep range for you to follow. You could also get more technical with predetermined rest periods and tempos, but for simplicity, we’ll leave that out for now.

4. You’ll also want to make sure you can perform the prescribed movement with a full range of motion with bodyweight before you start adding weights. For example, if your workout has you doing back squats for 3 sets of 10,  but you can’t do 1 barbell back squat with a full range of motion, you’d be better off backing down to either a bodyweight squat, box squat, or goblet squat to start.

5. Once you know you can perform each exercise with a full range of motion, you can start to begin adding weight. 

Alright COOL. So you’ve got your handy dandy notebook in one hand, your workout program in another hand, and your coolest workout outfit on (these are the important things people). You’re ready to go!

Using our previous example, your workout program says to do Back Squats for 3 sets of 10 reps. Those are your working sets and typically do not include any warm-up sets. You’ll want to warm up for a few sets prior to starting your working sets (more on that below). Ideally, you’ll also perform some dynamic movements before starting your workout as well.

Someone who knows approximately what weights they’ll be using for their working sets will know when they crossover from warm-up set to working set. Because of this, they will also likely keep their warm up sets shorter (less reps) in order to preserve energy for their working sets. You’ll get to that point in no time, but for now, our warm-up sets will be the same rep range as our working sets so that you can determine what your working sets will be without over/under shooting.

Let’s say you put the barbell on your back (45 lbs) and do 10 reps. It’s no problem and you feel like you could definitely do more, so you rest for a minute or 2 and then add 10lbs on each side (65lbs). You perform a set of 10 reps here and while it’s slightly harder, you still feel that you could go heavier. You add another 10lbs on each side (85lbs) and perform your set. This time, you struggle with the last 2-3 reps. While you could probably go heavier, this is where I’d recommend starting. Remember, you’re not trying to be a hero on Day 1. You’ll have plenty of time to go for PR’s later on, but determining a manageable starting point will set you up for success.

Since you’ve determined that 85 lbs is a good working set for you, you’d perform 2 more sets at 85 lbs and move on to the next exercise.

The next time that back squats are prescribed at 3 sets of 10 reps, you now know that you did 85lbs for 3 sets of 10 last time (because it’s written down in your AWESOME notebook that you’re still carrying around even though you spilled coffee on it this morning, right?!)

This week, you’ll want to try to add slightly more weight. Here’s what you’ll want to do now:

1st Warm up set: 5-7 reps at 45lbs

2nd Warm Up set: 3-5 reps at 65 lbs

3rd Warm Up set: 1-3 reps at 80 lbs

1st Working Set: 90lbs for 10 reps

From here you will decide where to go:

  • If you couldn’t finish all 10 reps at 90lbs, you’d go back down to 85 lbs.
  • If you completed all 10 reps and it was pretty hard (last few reps were a struggle), then you’d stay here for the remaining 2 sets.
  • If this felt pretty easy to you or you felt that you could do more, you may try for 95 lbs on the next set.
  • You can also increase the amount of reps that you did without increasing the weight used. For example, if you couldn’t complete 90lbs for 10 reps, but you could do 85lbs for 12 reps, that is still an increase in what you did the week before.

These strategies can be applied towards virtually any exercise. The big take away here is to try to increase either the amount of weight used or the reps completed each week. I say TRY because it won’t always happen. Some weeks the weight will go up smoothly and other weeks you will easily convince yourself that all of your muscles must have been abducted by aliens. And hey, maybe that is what happens. I’m no xenoarchaeologist.

While there are about 100 different ways you can determine what weights to start with and how to progress in the weight room, this is a very simple way to do it. You can continue to apply these principles each week to your workouts and over time, you’ll get stronger.

Be aware that at some point, the weights won’t go up as easily. Strength is not linear AND has diminishing returns. This means that a new lifter will likely see quick gains in a short period of time. Someone who has been lifting for many years sees much smaller gains over time. This doesn’t mean you’re doing something wrong, it is just how the body works. It’s part of what keeps it fun.

I love to keep in touch with people and am happy to answer any other questions you have. Feel free to leave a comment below OR email me at fitlizzio@gmail.com. Even if it’s just to say HEY.

Happy lifting!

-Lizzio

 

Switching Gears

Hey people!

I’m not sure why, but I had a realllllllly hard time saying goodbye to the weekend yesterday. I worked most of Saturday, so that may have added to it, but I definitely feel like I could have used a 3 day weekend!

I’m heading to Big Bear next week, so I won’t complain. A whole week in the mountains is going to be amazing!

Switching Gears

Thank you all for the emails and comments I received on this post. It was a fun experiment and I’m excited to do more in the future!

With that said, for the time being, I’m going to switch back to heavy lifting for a few months. Not only do I love it, but I’ve been really itching to do a powerlifting competition lately! I’d like to start training more for that and sign up for one later in the year. I thought about doing a local one next month (and still might, just to get my feet wet), but being that I just got my wisdom teeth out (and my workouts have been mellow since Wednesday), and that I’ll be in the mountains next week, I’d really only have about 18 days to prepare. At the same time, it’s not sanctioned, so I still may do it just to get some practice!

Workouts for the Week

This is tentative, but here’s what I have planned for this week

Monday: Kettle Bell Conditioning (workout below) + Upper Body Push

Tuesday: Legs (focus: squats & hip thrusts)

Wednesday: Upper Body Pull + Sprints

Thursday: Legs (focus: deadlifts)

Friday: Upper Body

Saturday: OFF

Sunday: Legs

If you’re looking for something quick to change up your workouts or to add some conditioning into your current program, try this:

Kettle Bell Conditioning: Perform Circuit Style for 5 Rounds

  • 10 KB Cleans
  • 10 KB Snatches
  • 15 KB Swings

Question of the Day

1. What’s your favorite way to train? For power? strength? aesthetics?

Friday the 13th, Conditioning, and a Birthday!

Good morning, friends!

Is it just me or have there been a LOT of Friday the 13th’s lately? Maybe I’m just noticing them more? Anyways, I kind of like it. 🙂

13_1

This morning I rolled out of bed to do some conditioning. It is sooo hard for me to get out of bed to workout these days. I can’t believe I used to work out at 5am every day! I’m sure if I tried, I could get back in that routine, but I actually really like my afternoon/evening weight lifting sessions too! Ah, getting older.

My Birthday

Speaking of getting older, I celebrated my 27th birthday on Tuesday. It was actually one of the best birthdays I’ve had in a while. I have the best friends, family, boyfriend and co-workers anyone could ask for. They made me feel super special!

IMG_7120I had to work on my birthday, but I took a break to get a great back workout in, too!

  • Pull Ups
  • T-Bar Rows
  • Cable Rows
  • Straight Arm Pulldowns
  • Close Grip Pulldowns

Birthday pull-ups! Kinda sloppy, but I'm working on getting these bad boys more strict. 3 sets of 4 today.It’s funny how simple things become much more fulfilling as you get older. I couldn’t think of a single gift I wanted this year, but just wanted to spend my day with the people (and furry creatures) I love, doing what I love…and I got just that!

IMG_7162I didn’t even get mad that Oscar tried to steal my balloon. 😉

Anyways, back to today.

Here’s what I did for my conditioning:

KB Clean & Snatch Combo (4 sets of 8 reps each)

Barbell Complex (4 sets)

I’ll have a full post on barbell complexes in the next week. They are a GREAT way to get the heart rate up without having to do standard cardio. Stay tuned!

I’ve got a bunch of work to do today (it seems to just keep piling on), and then I’m headed to the studio tonight to set up for an all-day session tomorrow. It should be fun!

I’m really looking forward to Sunday to just relax a bit. I’m hoping to get a hike and/or leg workout in and then just lounge around the rest of the day. Sounds like a perfect day to me! 🙂

In the works…

-I’ve got a few ebooks I’m working on at the moment that I can’t wait to release! Details to come soon!

Q: Do you hate the #13? Love it?

I love it!! I guess that’s the “metal” in me. 🙂

 

It’s Never Too Late

WoohoO! We made it to Friday!

I had a late-ish night last night, but only because I was hanging out with this stud muffin:

Love this little guy! :)I drank a lot of coffee today when I got up and spent this morning on back to back to back to back phone calls and am now working on emails on emails on emails. 0_o

(Oh, by the way, just a heads up! I’m doing something cool with my subscribers to help them reach their goals. If you’re curious about it, subscribe to my e-mail list and I’ll send you the info. I promise I’m not an annoying e-mailer and if you hate me, you can always unsubscribe. ;-))

* = required field

Anyways, as I was saying….I’m pretty buried today with work, but I’m hoping to crack it out in record time. When I’m in the zone, I can work pretty quickly, so I’m hoping I can get IN THE ZONE today. I took a break to blog because after being on so many phone calls, my mind just needs a minute.

It’s Never Too Late

I was recently talking to a friend of mine who is in her early 40’s and we were discussing workouts and fitness (shocker, right?). She asked me what I do for workouts and how I got my bubble butt, and so we started talking about my training. I was explaining some of the exercises I do, that I lift heavy, that I do some conditioning, and that I just stay consistent with my training. She stopped me and said to me “geez, i wish I could do that. If I was your age, I’d start training with you!”.

This woman is in decent shape, does a lot of cardio, and doesn’t have any physical disabilities, so I looked at her and said, why can’t you start now? She gave me the usual response/excuse of being too old, not having time, blah blah blah. I told her that ANYONE can start somewhere and that it’s never too late to start something new. She didn’t seem convinced, so we continued chatting.

I told her I didn’t get to deadlifting 225 overnight. It took me a lonngggggg time to build up to that. YEARS. Lifting heavy means something different for everyone, so I clarified to her that my  heavy weights are not going to be her heavy weights and that all she has to do is pick up weights that feel heavy to HER.

We discussed this for a bit and she finally started to get motivated. I could see it in her eyes that she finally believed that she probably could do that. She started getting excited and I gave her a few exercises, resources, and training tips to work on, and that she should email me in a few weeks to let me know how it’s going. She left the gym with a twinkle in her eye and I’m excited to see how it goes for her.

This completely made my day and was something I knew I wanted to share with my readers. I get into conversations just like this quite often. For some reason, someone along the way told us that our age and/or timing were the end-all-be-all for starting something new. That if you didn’t do it at a certain time or did it “too late in life” that you couldn’t do that.

….And some of us actually believe that.

That is SOOOO far from the truth. You can start ANYTHING you want at any age barring any true barriers. Look at all of the people that go back to school for their master’s degrees at 40, 50, even 60 years old. Why should training be any different? You don’t have to do what you’ve always done. It’s 2015, and almost everything is acceptable now, people. If something looks interesting, exciting, fun, or just intriguing to you….TRY IT. Know who you are and where you are in your fitness level, and just start from there. You have nobody to compete against except for yourself and when you start to notice that you’re improving, it’s a really amazing feeling.

I encourage anyone that has ever thought it was “too late” to try something new, to take the first step. Take a free fitness class, do an intro session with a personal trainer, or walk into the weight room for the first time (I promise, everyone in there is too focused on themselves to be watching you).

IT ISN’T TOO LATE. Take advantage of where you are now, and start doing something you’ve always wanted to try.

The Real Workout Starts When You Want To Stop + FitLizzio.com

Q’s:

1. What’s something new that you’ve tried recently?

2. Have you ever tried something you thought you’d love and ended up hating it after you tried it?

Good & Bad

Wow, this week has flown by! I feel like I say that a lot. It’s been a mixture of good and bad.

Good

I finally sucked it up and started squatting with low bar. This means the barbell sits lower on your shoulders than a normal squat. It feels SUPER awkward, but it distributes the weight throughout your body better and usually makes it easier to squat heavier. Getting past the awkward feeling is by far the hardest part, but once you do, the results are awesome. I squatted 160 lbs for 3 reps the other day, whereas when I did normal squats last week, my 1 rep max was 165. I am really excited to see what my 1 rep max is with a low bar squat.

Here’s the difference between normal bar and low bar:

back-pain-high-bar-vs-low-bar-squatsPhoto Credit

Bad

I haven’t gotten much sleep this week and consequently have been a little grumpy. It’s amazing what a lack of sleep can do to you. I’m doing a photo shoot on Saturday (see below), but plan on fully taking advantage of my first free day in WEEKS. Not that I’m complaining, as it has been a fun past few weeks/weekends, but I literally haven’t had a day to myself in over 3 weeks. I need it.

Good

I’m working with a fellow FitFluential Ambassador this weekend and will be demoing a bunch of exercises for a new iPhone app that is coming out! It looks really cool, so I will definitely spread the word when it’s out! You’ll see my familiar face/body in the entire exercise glossary! 😀

Only a few days left to get my FREE 10 Day Sexy SlimdownDownload here:  http://FitLizzio.com/sexyslimdown Whether you're looking to get back on track or just need a little boost/challenge to help you break through a plateau, this is for you! This FREE eBook includes: 10 Days of Workouts10 Day Meal Plan Full Grocery ListFull Exercise Demo LibraryBad

I don’t recommend walking 19 miles in a matter of 2.5 days. It’s not a huge deal, but I hurt something in my foot last weekend and it’s just been an annoyance. I’m still able to walk, run, jump, etc. but it’s just a naggy little thing that is bothering me. I’m hoping a little R&R this weekend will heal me.

Good

I love my best friend. I know this is cheesy, but this little guy makes me so happy! I love watching him goof around, play with other dogs, and just be a light in the room. I’m lucky to have this mutt!

Oscar is my hero.

In other news, I’ve been really digging my workouts as of late. I’ve been mostly focusing on getting stronger and throwing a little HIIT in between. Here’s what my workouts looked like this week:

Sunday: HIIT – 20 minutes

Monday: Legs (colored pairs indicate supersets)

  • Hip Thrusts: 185 x 12 (3 sets)
  • Banded Hip Abduction: black band x 30 (3 sets)
  • Leg Extensions: 70×15, 90×12, 90×12
  • Supinated Hamstring Curls: 50×15 (3 sets)
  • Box Jumps: 24 in. x 10 (2 sets)
  • DB Step Ups: 22.5 x 10 (2 sets)
  • Burpees: 10 reps (3 sets)

Tuesday: Shoulders + HIIT – 20 minutes

Wednesday: Full Body (Heavy Squats, Heavy Hip Thrusts, Back Extensions, Banded Lateral Walks, Incline Press, Chin Ups, Hanging Leg Raises)

Thursday: 15 min. Cardio to warm up, then a high rep, light weight full body workout including Leg Extensions, Supinated Hamstring Curls, DB Squat to Press, Rear Delt Raises, and Underhand Barbell Rows

Friday: REST

Saturday: Exercise Demos 🙂

Question of the Day:

1. What is 1 good thing and 1 bad thing that happened this week?