Why You Should Lift Heavy Every Now and Then
You’ve done it! You joined the MAC, stuck to a routine for 3 months, and have started to gain strength, endurance and even lose weight! Then things stall out... Now what? If you find that you’ve hit a stalemate in your progress, it may be time to switch things up. If you have been lifting the same amount of weight for 10-15 reps time and time again, your body will start to adapt and become used to this and stop making progress. This is where heavier lifting can come to the rescue!
It’s important to change up your exercise routine every now and then to avoid what we refer to as a plateau. The good news is that you don’t have to reinvent the wheel to boost your progress. It can be as simple as manipulating sets, reps and weight. In weightlifting there is an inverse relationship between intensity (weight) and volume (sets x reps), in other words: as weights get heavier, the number of reps you can do will and should decrease.
If you are ready to switch things up here’s what to do: Keep all of your exercises the same in your routine and increase the weights by 5-10lbs and decrease reps by 2-4. For example 10 reps at 10 lbs should become 6-8 reps at 20lbs. The weights and exercises should feel difficult but not impossible. If you are struggling to squeeze out the last rep every exercise, then the weight is too heavy. Making this change will give your body the shock it needs and help break through your plateau. In addition to helping your fitness progress, lifting heavy has a myriad of other benefits including strengthening of bones and tissues, increasing muscle mass, and increasing confidence. Respectively, this can mean a decrease in injuries from falls, an increase in fat burning capability, and a higher self-esteem!
Once you have performed your routine at the heavier weight for 4-6 weeks you can switch back to your old routine of higher reps. You should find that the weights you were once using feel much lighter so be sure to increase weight. Continue to flip-flop between these
The most important thing when lifting heavier weights is that your form is near perfect. Lifting heavier weights increases stress and load on your body and if done improperly can lead to injury. If you are unsure about your exercise form and technique or want to learn more ways to shake up your training, contact a MAC trainer or join one of our great programs like WomenStrong that will instruct you to lift with proper form and technique.
Written by: Matt Pudvah
NSCA-CSCS, RPR-2, HSSCS, FMSC
SPI Programs Director & Head Strength Coach
Manchester Athletic Club