4 Steps to Selecting the Perfect Weights and See Results

4 Steps to Selecting the Perfect Weights and See Results

What does selecting the right weights look like?

Selecting the right weight can make all the difference. As athletes, we need to create muscle damage in order to see progress. That is mainly done through intensity (a.k.a. how difficult the weight is.)

Sometimes we anticipate the weight getting heavier, or being more difficult as we continue with the sets. What happens when we get to the end and the weight isn’t as difficult as we thought it would be or if by the end of the workout we don’t quite get that feeling of a great workout? 

There are a few ways to find out what the right intensity is for you. 

1. We want to get to contractual failure. 

Starting even with the first set, we want to see our form break down slightly and experience the struggle of getting the weight up. 

If we were using a range set (i.e. 6-8 reps,) by the 6th rep we want to be seeing contractual failure. You may get to 8 reps in the end but by the 8th, things have gotten shaky, form is starting to break down and we are feeling the effects of the previous reps. 

On a side note: rep ranges are excellent because you want to pick a weight that you feel is heavy enough for the lowest number of reps but shoot to complete the end of the rep range. If by the end of the set (let’s say you were doing 3x6-8 reps,) you do 8 reps, 7 reps, and then 6 reps, that’s great! Next time you would take the same weight and aim to hit all 3 sets for 8 reps or at least build on those weights. Once you accomplish that, increase the weight and aim to do it again.  

2. Trial and error

If you have lots of experience in the gym or with a certain lift, this process may be quicker than if you’re just beginning. 

Sometimes we are going from an accumulation phase to an intensification phase and our muscles haven’t adapted to the weight yet. We may need to start lighter or fidget around with the weights. 

This is a natural process and we shouldn’t get frustrated when we feel we have selected the wrong weight. Make the adjustments next session and build on it. 

3. Use warm-up sets to determine what feels comfortable

Especially with large compound movements you would utilize at the beginning of a workout, take a couple of sets to build up to working weight. 

This will do a couple of things: It will prepare you better for the weight, allow your CNS (central nervous system) to prime itself and give you an idea of your general fatigue for the day. 

Some days you can lift a little more weight than others and some days you can’t. The important thing is that you make it intense for that given day. If you have been keeping a record of your weights, this will help you aim towards your weight goal, and typically, you can improve on the previous weeks’ weight, but if it isn’t your day, don’t force it. 

4. Increase weights on a micro-scale

Our job is to coax the muscle into growth, not force it. By forcing it, we may feel anxious under the bar in miss out on achieving our full potential of the lift that day. You could also potentially hurt yourself or drive motivation and enthusiasm to an all-time low as you'll feel you have to make giant leaps forward to see results. 

Progress on a weekly or daily weight by increasing it ever so slightly. If you are doing bench press for 100lbs, the following week, simply going to 102lbs is an improvement and will compound over time towards a big lift. So adding only 2lbs or even 0.5lb is still an improvement and can make the sessions more enjoyable. 

When you select the right weights, you feel a sense of accomplishment, overcoming adversity, making the sessions more enjoyable, and creating a habit of training. 

If it is too easy, you won’t see the progress you want and you’ll stop exercising. If it is too hard, you’ll become discouraged and leave your gym. 

Remember this line: 

You don’t need to feel sore the next day to see results, but you’ll never meet someone who has accomplished great things in the gym that hasn’t been sore once or twice from a workout.

Daniel Bednarski

Owner and operator of Revival Fitness.

daniel@revivalfitnessonline.com778 533 3285