Tuesday, January 20, 2015

How to Lift Heavier Weights

When it comes to weightlifting, the ultimate goal besides gaining mass, toning up, and getting stronger is to lift HEAVIER. This doesn't usually happen over-night. Weight-lifting is something that you must condition your body to doing each and every day-consistently.

Whenever I found myself getting winded after carrying around my 25lb son after just 5 minutes, I felt so ashamed! This was a HUGE wake up call to myself regarding how much I truly lacked upper body strength. I tend to focus on my lower body (aka my trouble area) so much that I had forgotten (well, neglected) my arms. On top of that, I was a cardio queen.

So, I went to work.

I began doing Pyramid Training and within two months, I was able to carry my son around without having to ask my husband for help. I used the T-Grip bar to gain strength and now, I lift heavier than I ever thought possible.


Here are some tips to lifting heavier weights:
  1. Use Proper Form: If you are practicing to lift heavier, you will need to make sure that you are using GOOD form to support those heavy weights. If you use bad form, you risk injuring yourself and killing your dreams of lifting heavier. Bad form also makes you do more work than you really ought to do-and you don't want that, do you?
  2. Listen to Your Body: Easily said. Just listen to your body. If the weight is too heavy, stop. If you feel pain, stop. If you feel comfortable lifting the amount that you are doing and feel that it is safe enough to go up 5lbs or so, do so in a focused and controlled manner. Your body will tell you everything that you need to know.
  3. Rest Your Muscles: To lift heavier, you must rest those muscles. Having rest days is so important for your body to build itself back up from all of your hard work. Next time you return for leg or arm day, you might just be surprised how easy that 50 or 100 lb. benchpress is!
In order to lift heavier, you must lift heavier. Does that make sense? 

Seriously, that is all there is to it. However, you cannot just walk into the gym and expect to start lifting that 75 lb. dumbbell if you've never done it a day in your lifetime. Instead, you have got to work your way up.

I personally use something called the Light-Medium-Heavy method (also known as Pyramid Training) and it has helped me tremendously.  This refers to the rep ranges and the weight, not the effort. You always want to give your complete effort in all that you do because lifting weights is not something to half-ass.

The ideal reps per set will vary slightly depending on which exercises you choose and person to person, but in general:

Heavy = 3-6 reps
Medium = 6-9 reps
Light = 10-15 reps

Bigger and stronger muscles are the result of lifting big heavier weights, but they aren't the result of lifting ONLY heavy weights alone. Light training has an important place in building a great body. You need to learn to balance the two to develop the best possible physique.

There are different and various ways to do this:

Ascending Pyramids
Increase the weight and decrease the reps for each set.
Set 1 – light weight: 12-16 reps
Set 2 – light/medium weight: 10-12 reps
Set 3 – medium weight: 8-10 reps
Set 4 – heavy weight: 4-6 reps

Descending Pyramids
Decrease the weight and increase the reps with each set.
Set 1 – heavy weight: 4-6 reps
Set 2 – medium weight: 8-10 reps
Set 3 – light/medium weight: 10-12 reps
Set 4 – light weight 12-16 reps

Triangle Pyramids
With this technique you do both ascending and descending pyramids.
Set 1 – light weight: 12-16 reps
Set 2 – light/medium weight: 10-12 reps
Set 3 – medium: 8-10 reps
Set 4 – heavy 4-6 reps
Set 5 – medium weight: 8-10 reps
Set 6 – light/medium weight: 10-12 reps
Set 7 – light weight: 12-16 reps

Double Wave Loads
In this method, you follow an ascending pyramid two times. 
Set 1 – light x 12 reps
Set 2 – medium x 10 reps
Set 3 – heavy lbs x 8 reps
Set 4 – light lbs x 12 reps
Set 5 – medium x 10 reps
Set 6 – heavy x 8 reps

Here is an example of a perfect little workout that I have used to help myself condition my body and prepare myself for heavier weights to come. 

Please keep in mind that everyone's idea of what's "heavy" will vary and to go with your own flow.

*If you have issues following the routine on a certain exercise, try going down 5-10lbs or possibly a few reps per pyramid.*

Dumbbell Curls
Light: 20lbs x 12 reps
Medium: 25lbs x 10 reps
Heavy: 20lbs x 8 reps

Kettlebell Swings
Light: 16lbs x 12 reps
Medium: 20lbs x 10 reps
Heavy: 26lbs x 8 reps

Goblet Squats (using kettlebells)
Light: 16lbs x 10 reps
Medium:20lbs x 8 reps
Heavy: 26lbs x 5 reps

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