Most people turn to some sort of cardio conditioning and diet restriction to lose fat/weight. Keep in mind this. No matter what the scale says, if you are not lifting weights you potentially will carry higher percentages of fat than you wish. The antidote? Resistance training and selecting exercises that create a demand on the body.
The suggestion that women should lift heavy is thrown around social media and the fitness world but I feel like people simply bypass the phrase without really consider what this means or automatically assume it is not for them.
Today I want to talk about how to implement lifting heavy weights into a routine and why it is beneficial, not just for body composition, but for your overall health.
You may have questions.
“How and why would I want to lift heavy?”
“Isn’t it dangerous?”
“How do I know what is heavy enough?”
“Does it really matter all that much?”
Strength training with heavier weights has a host of benefits that range from improved body composition, to an enhanced metabolism, improved strength and endurance, whether you are looking to improve in a sport, the gym, or activities of daily lifting.
I have had many clients say how much stronger they are carrying their grandkids or groceries and, to me, that pretty much solidifies why we should all train with weights in one form or another.
And if bulk is your concern, read here.
A little bit of education.
You can skip this part if you are pretty savvy in the weight room but some people are left wondering what 3×12 or 3×3 means and how exactly do you lift heavier and why would you choose one over the other. The first number being the number of sets you will complete and the second number how many repetitions you will do for each set.
For example, if you are trying to develop pure strength you would choose a heavy weight you could only perform for close to 3 repetitions. If you are just a beginner, or getting back into it, I wouldn’t even worry about it, but if you have been doing this awhile, are looking to get stronger and add muscle mass (not necessarily size) and have never experimented with this kind of training before I would highly considered it. The physique and strength benefits are amazing and leave you feeling you can take on anything.
Heavy is relative.
Heavy for one person could be completely different for someone else. In college, I would struggle to get 165 pounds for 3 reps on a back squat while the girl next to be was struggling at 205. The point being that we were each challenging ourselves at our fullest capacity at that time.
I am not saying that you ever have to get 100 pounds plus on your back to challenge yourself, but I am encouraging you to be more aware of how much you currently challenge yourself when lifting weights.
A lot of time lifting heavy gets a bad reputation that it is dangerous and potentially harmful, but I do not think it is any more dangerous than NOT training your body in a way that builds strength and mobility. Lifting heavy is not any more dangerous than being weak.
I see women especially focus on isolation exercises whether they are using the ADuction/ABduction machine (inner/outer thighs), bicep curls, triceps presses and abdominal exercise in hopes that they will “burn” the fat right off that area and that is simply not the case.
Ultimately you cannot spot reduce in any noticeable way. Choose multi joint exercises that work multiple muscle groups such as shoulder presses, push ups rows, squats, lunges, deadlifts etc.
These will give you the most bang for you buck and in the long run, help increase muscle, which will reduce fat allover more than your single joint exercises. Also do not omit training the upper or lower body in fear that you will get too bulky. The legs especially will give you a higher calorie burn because they are some of the biggest muscles in the body.
Why lifting LIGHT weights is a waste of time.
If you do any exercise and rep out 20 repetitions without really feeling any type of challenge you are not giving the muscle enough stimulus to see any kind of change.
Whether you are looking to change your physique or be stronger, you are seeking some kind of benefit, and simply going through the motions on machine and hopping to the next is what I would consider a waste of time. Challenge yourself.
How to lift heavy for beginners.
Start by picking exercises that you feel comfortable doing and you know you have good form.
Select your usual weight and perform 12-15 repetitions and ask yourself if you could do 5 more? If the answer is yes, then bump of the weight.
Do this until you find a weight that is challenging for 12-15 repetitions. Once you have determined these weights for various exercises work out in this fashion for a couple weeks recording your numbers doing 2-3 sets of each exercise that feels challenging for 12-15 reps.
Then bump your weight up to one that feels challenging, with the same exercises for 10-12 reps.
A workout example to start would be performing each of the following exercises for 12-15 repetitions and then repeating the entire set 2 more times. Eventually move to the lower rep range.
DB Shoulder Press
If you are looking to get the most out of your workouts and actually see changes in the body, you need to actually feel a challenge when you lift weights.
There are definitely some body weight exercises that can create a similar stimulus and effect without adding additional weight but the key point here is you need to be challenged. Start slow, always practice good form, and listen to your body.
If you want more direction on how to get a stronger, leaner body I am opening up a wait list for a 10 week gym program I am launching May 10th, Super Simple Super Sets. It will give you 10 weeks of workouts, telling you exactly what to do and how to progress to challenge your body and continue to get results. Zero obligation to commit to the program but you will get tons of exercise education over the course of the next couple weeks, plus a free workout nutrition guide to get you started! Click below if you are interested!