Are you tracking your workout stats?
Do you know how much you can lift for different rep schemes? Do you know how long you can hold a movement? If the answer is no, then you’re leaving results on the gym floor by not writing down your performance from previous workouts and weeks.
Because there are many ways to keep making progress in the gym.
And how else are you supposed to decide what to do for a set of 8 thrusters?
Don’t leave your results to chance, get a notebook and start recording what you are lifting in your exercises and/or what is your time on the workouts where there is a workout for time. This will give you something to challenge on subsequent workouts…
When you know what you lift for each exercise and in each different rep scheme, you can then begin to progressively increase your weights over time. When you lift heavier weights over time, you’re body is forced to adapt to this stimulus and thus you will then get the results you came in for.
So let’s unpack this…
If you know that you can deadlift 155lbs for 6 reps then you need to adjust what you deadlift in the workouts depending on the rep scheme as well as the potential fatigue accumulated from the other exercises in the workout.
If the workout is deadlift for 10 reps, perhaps you are using 115lbs, if it is 12 reps, perhaps it’s 105, if it’s 20 reps, its 95lbs….
The numbers are not absolute, and it’s for you to figure out and decide what to do after warming up that movement. Everyone has different strength endurance, so if 2 people have the same 6 rep max deadlift, they may not necessarily choose the same weight as the reps get higher. Not to mention, YOU ALWAYS HAVE TO TAKE INTO ACCOUNT HOW YOU ARE FEELING THAT DAY. Are you feeling tired, are you feeling stressed, does your back feel tight? All these variables should play a role in your decision making. And this decision should be made from the concrete knowledge of what you know you can lift in that exercise and for that rep scheme with recent workout performance. (It does not matter what you did 3 years ago if you have not done it recently).
Of course, you don’t have to write it down (you can track it in your phone), just do whatever you feel will work best for you and what you will reference and use regularly.
Because if you do this regularly you will get stronger faster with a very predictable formula for when you are ready to increase the weight. (This will also reduce the chance of injury by not choosing too heavy of a weight as you are progressively increasing the weight at a pace when you are ready and not just guessing).
Note, there will be undulations in your progress. so don’t expect an increase in an exercise by 5lbs every month, but if you are consistently applying the principle of progressive overload, I feel confident in saying that you will get stronger over a 6 or 12 month period.
So when should you increase your weight in the gym?
- listen to your body (if you feel like crap, are stressed out, feel achy then today is not the day, focus on lifting slower with better form and chase a burn in your muscles- listening to your body is how you stay pain free and train for longevity).
- Option 1 – in my personal training sessions, I ask every client after almost every set, on a scale of 1-10 how hard was that. Depending on what we are doing, if they say anything lower than 8 I increase the weight by a small amount and assess. You could do this during your workouts – it typically works better in a slow paced STRENGTH setting as you may not have time to write down your weight and RPE (Rate of Perceived Exertion on a scale of 1-10) after every set.
- Option 2 – if the workout is 4 rounds for 10 reps, if you can comfortable do the weight for 10 reps and feel as if you can do more, then consider increasing the weight for at least 1 of your sets next week.
- For example, let’s say you did 40lbs for 10 reps in all 4 sets, the next week you could do the following: 40lbs x 10, 45 x 10, 45 x 8, 40 x 10. Then the next week perhaps you do: 40lbs x 10, 45 x 10, 45 x 9, 45 x 8.
- A good rule of thumb is you want to be + or – 2 reps from whatever the rep scheme is on the board. If you don’t feel you can do at least 8 reps from the example above, you would go with a lighter weight
- If the workout is 10 reps and you can do at least 8 reps then you should continue working with that weight until you can do 10 reps for all sets and then increase again
- If the workout is 10 reps and it is so easy for that many reps that you are doing 15 reps on your sets because the weight is too light, you should consider increasing the weight.
There’s many ways to go about this but the premise is that you are listening to your body, thinking about the target rep scheme on the workout of the day, and making decisions based on how many reps you can do with the weight you are using relative to that.
And this all starts with tracking your workouts.
If you have any questions about this speak with one of our experienced personal trainers next time you are in the gym!
Looking forward to seeing those notebooks and gains!
Committed to your success,
Josh Saunders, BS, CSCS