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How Much Weight Should You Lift?


Coach Josh, what weight should I use for ______ ?” (insert any exercise).

This is a great question Coach Melanie and I hear on the reg!

When preparing for your workout and deciding what weight(s) is THE BEST for YOU, there are a few things to consider:

  • Lifting heavy weights means something different to each of us.

  • The term “heavy” is relative based on your own personal strength and what you can both safely and effectively.

  • Safely: NEVER sacrifice form or technique for the sake of going heavier.

  • Effectively: DO challenge yourself (safely) because that is how you make changes and get results.

[**Note: If you’re sticking with the same weight because it’s easy and feels comfortable, totally cool! Just know this can slow your progress and the results you want to feel / see.]

So, how do you balance between mastering form and technique while safely challenging yourself?

So glad you asked!

Today’s Coaches Blog is a “how to guide” for understanding:

  1. The best weights for YOU!

  2. How to tell it’s time to progress to the next heavier weight


Step One: How Hard Are You Working?

Let’s start with using this scale called Rate of Perceived Exertion (RPE -pictured below) and how it relates to exercise intensity so you get the most out of your workouts.

The RPE scale is completely subjective to an individual’s fitness level but offers some great insight in to proper intensity and how to pick weights that are challenging but not impossible.

rpe SCALE.png

If you want to see results quicker, we recommend working between a 7 – 9 range. A 10 is usually super-duper uncomfortable and can potentially lead to injury in the long run.

The rainbow colored scale is reflective of how you would FEEL at each level. This is a great way of self-monitoring your efforts to make 100% certain you are working to full capacity. And, be prepared to feel uncomfortable because you need to feel uncomfortable to create change. Exercising, especially strength training, is NOT designed to be easy BUT it leads to you to the changes you came to us wanting to make.

Admittedly, this can be the hardest part – working to the point where you are uncomfortable because duh, who likes feeling like that?! Coach Melanie and I passionately believe in hands on coaching because it’s what all of you want and need otherwise, you’d be exercising on your own

If you are just getting started and are a newer RF Warrior, know this takes some time and exactly why you have us as your coaches. It can feel scary and intimidating getting started and using weights for the first time so we’re here to help you figure this stuff out while keeping you safe AND challenged!


Step Two: Easy, Hard or Just Right?!

The second chart below is based on the RPE scale above but has everything to do with muscle fatigue and how to pick the appropriate weight for the movement.

Again, this is completely subjective and different for everyone since you are all starting at different fitness levels. Don’t let that deter you though. Remember, using heavy weights is relative to each of us so your goal is picking up weights that are heavy and challenging to YOU while moving your body with picture perfect form. **Never ever sacrifice form.

When it comes to deicing how heavy / which weight(s) to use, let this chart be your guide! At every workout, strive for an 8-9 out of 10 when picking your weights. At this rate, you are being physically challenged but still able to do the exercise properly.

While Coach Melanie and I would love to remember everyone’s exact weights, it’s just not part of our coaching super powers! While tracking your weights is something we do for you in Small Group Personal Training, I STRONGLY recommend tracking the weights you use in Group Class so you know what to get and can see how your strength is improving! After all, you are showing up and exerting tons of time and energy so understanding your weights and knowing what you use is something you always want to be mindful of to get the most out of each and every workout.

If you are hesitant about lifting “heavier” weights because you fear it will make you big and bulky – GOOD NEWS! Challenging your muscles won’t make them big and bulky – it’s the exact opposite!

Challenging your muscles helps you become strong AF, burn MORE fat and gives you a leaner, more defined look and overall body composition. This is straight science. And, most importantly, being strong makes life today, tomorrow and 20+ years down the road EASY, ENJOYABLE and pain free!

Getting out of bed, carrying groceries, picking up your kids and grandkids, using the stairs – this stuff shouldn’t hurt or feel hard. That’s why strength training is super important and why you are an RF Warrior!

And remember, you need to feel challenged and a little uncomfortable when using weights and exercising to create change. This stuff isn’t meant to feel effortless and easy.

**Remember, always practice safe sets!**


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Keep Moving

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