Fitness Articles

4 Signs You Need to Lift More Weight

When and How to Increase Your Resistance


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 4 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 3-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

    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
    I know when the number on the bar in under 3 digits

    4 if you could the leg press . - 4/9/2013 4:53:51 PM
  • Oh, and for those who commented below regarding concern about being able to increase the weight forever: Don't worry- you can't. There are simply limits to how much your body can lift given your sex (women who aren't on steroids lift less than men of the same height/weight because we are short on testosterone), height,and weight (bio-mechanics play in, here), and physical limitations. I have been lifting what most people would consider "Heavy" for many years now, and my increases now come infrequently and in very small increments.

    No one can add 10 lbs a week until they are lifting thousands of weight, no matter how hard they try. - 4/9/2013 1:35:33 PM
  • Well, yes to all the above, but you also need to change up exercises regularly if you want to see a change in your body shape. - 4/9/2013 1:29:03 PM
  • I don't think anyone can tell usat what weight we have to stop. The article doesn't talk about excersizing like a body builder, it simply shows us how to change things up so we don't waste our time at the gym. All of the suggestions built up on the extreme example at the beginning. I thought the article and advice was good. I always change things up at the gym; different weights, different routines - keeps it interesting. Thank you! - 4/9/2013 10:40:29 AM
  • Thank you for the advise. I think it's excellent advise for beginners. Though I do agree with Fiddlemom's question, "when is enough enough?" - 4/9/2013 10:24:18 AM
  • Funny, they never talk about when to stop upping things - whether it's weight or reps. Always it's articles and advice like this.

    If this follows through, logically, we're all supposed to end up lifting like a competition "strongman", lifting several hundred pounds. OR we're supposed to end up in the gym all day because we've increased our reps to the point where we have no time for anything else.

    Will they ever tell us when we can say when?

    If the only way to keep fit is to keeping upping everything into infinity, then I'm not interested. I don't want to be a bodybuilder/stron
    g-woman. I don't want to spend my day exercising. To me, that's not living. There are other things I want to do with my life. - 4/9/2013 8:07:39 AM

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