How Much Weight Should You Lift For Max Gains? . . . and
The answer to the question posed by the title of this article does not have a simple answer. There are variables
to consider, like are you bodybuilding or weightlifting? What is your body size and present state of physical
As a general rule for someone who is bodybuilding, the weights used should be light enough that you can perform
ten repetitions, but heavy enough that the last two are a struggle to complete.
Keep in mind that the exercises must be performed with good form and without cheating.
If you are like most people who inhabit the gym pumping iron, your primary goal is to condition your body. Your
secondary goal is to build and shape your
muscles and body. Ultimately your goal is to get a lot stronger. Taken in that order, let's deal with each goal
To condition your body, you should be working each muscle or muscle group for a minimum of three sets of ten
repetitions. The weight should be heavy enough that it is hard for you to complete the last two reps. Each muscle
should be rested for at least one minute between sets.
The muscles should be worked in the order of their size and the amount of energy that will be
expended for the three or more sets. A typical order of exercises will be:
A warm-up of abdominal exercises
Thighs and Calves
If you begin with the smaller muscles like the biceps, your arms will be too tired for you to work other body
parts and the arms are used in nearly every exercise except for the legs. Working the chest, back and shoulders
before your arms will allow you to work these muscle groups hard before blitzing your biceps and triceps.
An intermediate level bodybuilder should add some pure strength training into their weekly routine.
This will prevent a severe plateau in your muscle growth and will
keep the muscles stimulated.
Strength training should be with heavy weights and lower repetitions, with four to six being the norm. Each
muscle group should be blasted with heavy weights one time every two weeks, if possible.
For advanced bodybuilders, you can resort to focusing on one muscle group per workout, when you are able to hit
the gym five days per week. For example, you might work chest on Monday, along with some cardio and abs exercises.
On Tuesday, you would work your thighs and calves really hard, along with some abs. Wednesday would see you
exercising your back with some hard sets.
On Thursday you would blitz your shoulders and Friday would have you belaboring your biceps and
triceps mightily. If you are able to add a sixth day, you could focus on cardiovascular interval training. Sunday
you would rest, totally.
With a program like this, each muscle group gets worked hard on one day, but gets rested or worked lightly on
the other days of the workout week. This routine is for advanced bodybuilders who have conditioned their bodies,
but are looking for increasing their size and muscle shape.
The other side of the workout coin is mental. It is important to your progression to be able to visualize what
you are trying to achieve. Find pictures of how you want your body to look and look at them several times per
When getting ready to exercise, close your eyes and imagine yourself completing your heaviest lifts with
This method of visualization has been used successfully by weightlifting and power lifting teams after the
Russians were discovered to be using this method to achieve great gains. The power of the human mind should never
be discounted, nor overlooked.
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