Tag Archive for weight training

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

 

Weekly Update: Workouts, Fat Loss Success, & More!

Happy Friday friends!

First off, thank you for the awesome feedback on the 8 Weeks to a Killer Booty I released last week! That puppy got shared over 80 times on Facebook. I guess people really want a better butt haha.

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HELLO

Anyways, I thought I’d pop in and let you all know that I’m alive and well, just took a little break from blogging.

I’ve been really working on taking breaks and not overwhelming myself, so unfortunately, blogging had to take a back seat.

But that doesn’t mean I haven’t been lifting my little heart out!

How about a little recap from last week…

I was instructed to take a few days off by my coach, since I haven’t done that in, oh, years?

The closest I came to a break was while in Big Bear, except that I hiked, wakeboarded, and paddleboarded my way through the small town. Guess that didn’t really count as a break. =)

WORKOUTS THIS WEEK

Monday: LEG DAY…Deadlifts, Bulgarian Squats, Leg Press, Swiss Ball Leg Curls, Goblet Squats and more!

Tuesday: Upper Body: Barbell Military Press, DB Bench Press, Rows, Lat Pulldowns, and more

Wednesday: CROSSFIT…yep, that’s right. My friend talked me into going to Crossfit with her and it was a lot of fun. Here’s what we did

  • 5 min. EMOM Power Cleans
  • 5 min. EMOM Squat Cleans

11 minute AMRAP

  • 45 Double Unders (i did 135 singles because I can’t do very many unbroken DU’s)
  • 15 KB Swings
  • 5 Hang Clean & Jerks (I did Push Jerks)

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My traps are SOOOOO SORE. I haven’t done any olympic lifting in months and months, so it was like a whole new world for my traps! Haha.

Thursday: Another leg day. This time: Back Squats (was supposed to be front squats but my collar bones were bruised from CrossFit the day before), Hip Thrusts, DB Lunges, Leg Extensions, DB Sumo Squats and some ab work.

Friday: Supposed to be on upper body day, but my body is pretty shot. I’m going to do some at-home yoga (My brain can only handle 30 minutes, so I’ve been doing this Vinyasa flow every now and then. I actually like it too! Who am I?!)

Since I’m missing my upper body day, I’ll be doing it tomorrow instead along with an ab circuit and then will be taking a full rest day on Sunday.

CLIENT UPDATE

I’m so, so proud of my clients Kaspars and Melissa. They both signed up to for my fat loss program and their results over the last 30 days have been amazing! Fat loss success at it’s finest!

They lost a total of 15 inches!!! And Kaspars gained some in the booty!!<==LIFE GOALS

But what really struck me and made my day was this….because THIS is what it’s all about:

“We both see the huge changes in our approach to nutrition. We are much more intentional in our meals. Kaspars packs his lunch everyday, and Melissa works for Wolfgang Puck Catering– so food is always around. Because of the program, she actually takes the time to eat every few hours instead of fasting all day, and feasting in the evening.
Thank you so much for taking us through this. It’s lead to some changes that we intend to keep.
It may sound absurd, but we’ve started treating our bodies like they belong to people we like.” – Kaspars & Melissa Lucey-Grinsberg

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You guys are just awesome. So excited to continue working with you and see where you are in another 30 days. (if you want results like Kaspars & Melissa, email me at fitlizzio@gmail.com)

OPERATION GET LEAN 

Yes, don’t worry. I’m still kicking butt on my Operation: GET LEAN project (my own fat loss goals). I had about a week and a half set back where my head just wasn’t in the game, and I ALLOWED my excuses to get in the way.

I’ve been practicing taking poor thoughts and turning them into positives. For example:

“Ugh, I can’t eat (insert yummy food here).”

TO

“I can totally eat (insert yummy food here) whenever I want. I’m choosing to work towards fat loss, and more importantly I GET TO do this. I’m not going to eat it right now because it doesn’t support my goals”

It’s been truly life-changing. I don’t ban any foods, as that only contributes to poor eating habits and a poor relationship with food. I eat for my goals, and am still able to eat ice cream, cereal, and all of my other favorites almost every single day.

But I didn’t realize that by having simple negative thoughts like the one above, could be so negative. My awareness of that (thanks to my awesome coach) has led to a big change for me. Of course, I’m always a work in progress, but these simple tactics are helping me to truly transform my body AND mind.

Here is my most recent photo taken about a week ago.

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Next week’s will be even better  now that I’m back on my game! 😀

That’s all I’ve got for now…back soon!

-Lizzy

Why Lifting Weights Rocks + Leg Workout

Wednesday already?!

I’m not complaining, but this week is kind of flying by! I also have Friday off of work, save for a few personal training clients, so I’m definitely excited about the weekend! Summer is just the best!

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Since taking a week off from the gym, I’ve been getting in some really awesome workouts! I thought I’d share my leg workout from yesterday. It was a KILLER. I even posted a video on Instagram mid-workout. For anyone that thinks weight lifting doesn’t have cardiovascular benefits, think again! I was sweating and breathing hard the entire workout!

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As you all know, I’m a big believer in lifting heavy weights (which is totally relative to what is heavy for each individual person). Lifting weights and working towards getting stronger WILL change your body composition. If you’re eating in a deficit, you WILL start to lean out and the beauty of it all is that as you put on more muscle, your resting metabolism increases, which means you’ll burn more calories throughout the day even when you’re just sitting around. Bret Contreras put up a great Facebook post the other day that sums it up pretty well. Smart guy!

This point really, really, really needs to be driven home. All of my clients who stay the same weight and gain a lot of…

Posted by Bret Contreras (Fitness Page) on Thursday, June 25, 2015

Okay, on to the workout:

LEG DAY

-Hip Thrusts (4 sets of 5 reps): 255#, 275#, 275#, 255#

-Deadlifts (3 sets of 12 reps):  135#

-DB Bulgarian Squats (3 sets of 12 reps): 15# DB’s

-45 Hypers (1 set of 20 reps & 1 set of 15 reps):  25# plate

-Lateral Band Walks w/ Squat (2 sets of 20 per leg): I used a light band

-Kettle Bell Swings (3 sets of 15 reps): 20kg KB

Question of the Day:

1. What’s your favorite way to sweat?

2. Any fun plans for the 4th?

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?