If you’re familiar with bodybuilding and bodybuilding history, there is a former Mr Olympia (one of only 13 men who have won the best-built body title in the world over the last 50 years), that made the phrase “Light Weight” part of gym lingo and folklore.
He was none other than Ronnie “The King” Coleman. An eight-time Mr Olympia, beating Arnold Schwarzenegger who won it seven times. Phenomenal achievement!
So, what he considered “Light Weight” would be someone else’s heavy (actually, it would be 99.9% of all gym goers definition of “extremely heavy”). This is what I am talking about here today.
I have heard many people ask the question “what weight should I use?” It really is a very individual thing. What may be less heavy for someone, may be too heavy for others. If you’re unsure of what weight to use, it may be wise to do a little “pre-exercise” planning.
Now, what I am going to explain below may be considered by many to be ‘quite obvious’ but for some, it may not be so. Here’s what I mean, for a beginner:
Steps before lifting weights –
- Start with the bare minimum, in terms of poundage (leave your ego at the door)
- Progressively increase weight with each set of the exercise
- Stop when you reach a poundage that allows you to strictly perform the exercise within the required number of repetitions.
For example, some of the basic gym tools:
- Start with 1lb dumbbells and work you way up incrementally – either 1lb or 2lb increments
- Where the increments switch to 5lb increments, apply steps above accordingly.
- Start with just the bar (no weight added). A standard weight bar could weigh anywhere between 5kg and 9kg. An Olympic bar would weigh 20kg (~ 45lbs).
- Once the bar feels too light, start adding 2 ½ lb plates on both ends.
- Increase weight incrementally by 5 pounds.
- Start with the lightest (once again, leave your ego at the door). It may be 2 or 2.2lbs.
- Once you feel strong enough to move up, do so. Keep in mind, however, that medicine balls typically increase in 2-pound increments ( 6 to 6.6 lbs, 4 to 4.4 lbs etc).
So, there you go.
Figure out how much time of your 86,400 seconds each day you can devote to a work-out (hopefully a minimum of 3,600 seconds twice a week). Find a results-specific workout type you would like to put your body (and mind) through and then just do it!
Don’t be afraid of the gym. You don’t need a degree in exercise physiology. If you’ve ever resented anyone for their physique, you can stop now. I want to let you know that sometimes the bodies that have earned your exercise envy may not be more committed to working out than you are.
It’s just that they’re smarter when it comes to HOW they work out.
Now it’s your turn.
There is no secret to getting in great shape. It is not how much time you spend exercising (there is a bare minimum though for every goal) but it is taking the time to exercising properly. Executing each exercise in proper functional manner, continuously asking yourself the question –
“How well am I doing this particular rep of this particular exercise?”.
Not knowing how to. Not executing exercises with good form could be disastrous. One simple slip in form can transform a useful exercise into a useless one. The problem areas in your body are progressively neglected and you continuously stress and overwork muscles you would rather avoid or work less.
You sacrifice your ‘safety umbrella’. Sets you up for major postural problems in the future. Overworked and over-stressed muscles ( like shoulders for men ) lead to muscle imbalances which lead to (over time) – injuries. Injuries, yes. Some of which you cannot afford to have.
Seek help from a suitably qualified and experienced professional for guidance if you’re unsure.
Train safer. Train smarter.
You’ll enjoy the next 40 or so years in the gym.
Until next time,