When to Add Weight and How Much

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Weight Lifting Adding Weight

Some of the most common questions I get asked when it comes to lifting concern adding weight, specifically when to add weight and how much.

Below you will find the definitive answers to both questions.

When to add weight when lifting?

The normal rule of thumb is to start would with a weight you can do for at least 8 reps, then over the next few workouts add reps until you can do 12 reps with that same weight. At this point you will add some weight and lower the reps back down to 8 and do the cycle all over again working up to 12 reps, adding weight, lower the reps again, etc.

How much weight to add when lifting weights?

When you add weight how much should you add? If you add too much you will make the exercise too hard and won't be able to get enough reps, but if you add too little you won't be challenging your muscle enough and you will get too many reps because it will be too easy.

A general recommendation would be to add 5% more weight to the bar or the same divided by the two dumbbells for dumbbell exercises. For example if you are bench-pressing 200 pounds and you can do 12 or more reps, you should add approximately 5% more weight, which would be 10 pounds. And if you are doing dumbbell curls with 40 pounds each, which is 80 pounds total you would add 4 pounds, which means 2 pounds for each dumbbell. The problem with dumbbells in most gyms is they only go up in 5 pound increments which is many time too big of a jump, for example going from 20 pounds to 25 pounds is a 25% increase. The correct 5% increase on 20-pound dumbbells is only 1 pound for each dumbbell. The only way to do this is to get adjustable dumbbells and very small plates or even big washers or magnets that weight 1/4 or 1/2 pound each.

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