Fitness Articles

4 Signs You Need to Lift More Weight

When and How to Increase Your Resistance

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4 Signs You Need to Increase Your Resistance
Strength training is about building and maintaining a certain level of strength. You might not be lifting enough weight during one or many of your exercises if:
  1. The current weight you are lifting isn’t a challenge. Strength training is meant to be challenging, because the whole point is to “overload” your muscles so they get stronger. If the weight you are lifting isn’t as challenging as it used to be (or isn’t challenging at all!), then it is time to increase the resistance.
  2. You could go forever. Each strength training exercise you do should cause you to feel muscle “fatigue” within 15 repetitions (or fewer). Muscle fatigue feels like you couldn’t possibly do another repetition in good form. If you can do more than 15 reps in good form, or if you literally feel like you could go on forever because the resistance you’re using is so easy, then it’s time to take it up a notch.
  3. You have never increased the weight you lift. When you first started strength training, then the weight you lifted was a starting weight. Continuing to progress in strength training is essential to getting the most out of your workouts—that means lifting more weight as you get stronger over time.
  4. The progress has come to a stop. Without making your muscles work harder than they’re accustomed to, they won’t get stronger. As you train, your muscles will grow stronger in order to meet the demands you are placing on them. So if you keep offering them the same workload, they will keep working the same amount, and progression comes to a grinding halt.
Recognize if you are experiencing any of the four signs above, taking time to pay attention to the level of difficulty and challenge of each of your exercises during your workouts. If you experience any of these signs (or if it sounds like I have been watching you workout based on what you read), then it is time to increase the resistance! Use the three-step process below to do it safely and effectively.
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About The Author

Jason Anderson Jason Anderson
Jason loves to see people realize the benefits of a healthy, active lifestyle. He is a certified personal trainer and enjoys running races--from 5Ks to 50K ultramarathons. See all of Jason's articles.

Member Comments

  • I have been using machines at the YMCA and have not known when to increase weight. Thanks very helpful. - 5/22/2016 1:47:44 PM
  • I actually already follow these. I used to do the machines, and still do sometimes, but mostly use the free weights now and workout with my boyfriend. My problem is I really need to write down the weights I'm using for each exercise because it varies so much, each time I go I have to think "how much did I do last time?" I think I know my own body pretty well for what I can handle, and when (have to use lower weights that time of the month, but the week before I feel super strong). I've been focusing on compound exercises so it takes less time at the gym. Although I'm not quite sure how to enter bodyweight exercise info into my tracker if I can't put "0" weight. - 2/14/2016 12:46:10 PM
  • After reading this article I think I will increase my weights. The ones I am using are not usually taxing. Thanks SparkPeople for posting this article. - 1/28/2016 3:13:37 AM
  • Maybe through SparkPeople I'll do a weight training set long enough to need to increase the amount of weights I use. I tend to do weight training a couple of weeks and it falls by the way side. - 1/14/2016 8:40:09 PM
    Awesome article!!! Looking forward to do this!!! I own weights stuff at home...thanks for excellent advice!!! :) - 12/31/2015 9:29:03 AM
  • Yes, great suggestions! More weight to fatigue muscles and fewer reps. The range is between 8-15 reps. It is up to how your body feels. If it hurts don't do it. - 12/30/2015 9:24:16 PM
    So AGE has got to have something to do with increasing weights. I am 70 years old.
    I ride my bike (causal) 2x's a week, power swim (2x's a week) and 'work out' (2x's a week) and on the 7th day I rest. I must CUT BACK on the number of reps if I go from say 10lb weights to 12lb just gets too difficult and I stop at pain. Suggestions?
    - 4/19/2015 8:08:54 PM
    You know your weights are too light when you can do more than 10 reps in a set. - 4/18/2015 10:03:10 PM
  • I am thankful I was introduced to http://wwwQuality here in Tucson. I have been training with them since April, and this husband and wife team are VERY knowledgeable, and have been so helpful in my actually gaining muscle! I actually AMAZE myself!!!! - 11/9/2014 9:39:29 PM
    Excellent advice! - 8/7/2014 11:14:08 AM
  • I have been attending a gym here since March, that is all about Quality Strength. I started out with very little weight, and could not fathom lifting anything heavier, yet today I am up to 44 lb. in my dead lift, and 20lb. each barbell dead lift. Not easy, but I could have done ALOT more. My instructor promised I was going UP next week. I have been advanced since March, and the progress is phenomenal....AND I am almost 70! - 6/4/2014 10:50:31 PM
  • Great article! - 1/22/2014 2:50:58 PM
  • The body adapts to what it is doing. If someone lifts 5-pound dumbbells, then their body will adapt to lifting 5-pound dumbbells. That is a very good thing compared to doing nothing, but there is a lot of space for further improvement! - 10/13/2013 5:54:59 AM
  • Great article. I have to get back into lifting weigh. - 9/2/2013 2:16:52 PM
    You are only limited your mind. i don't buy the there are limits. Go for the big weights they are fun.

    Set a goal and work towards it. If at 52 I can do 1125lbs on the reclining leg press anyone can work their way up. - 4/9/2013 4:56:41 PM

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