As newbies to workouts, this is the question on everyone’s mind… How much weight should I be lifting? Are more reps beneficial?
Let’s break it down for people who are beginning their journey with strength training.
All valid questions! Especially when you see big guys in the gyms squatting with the world on their shoulders, self doubt begins to creep in. Well, first things first, they got there over time. If you’re CONSISTENT, you’ll get there one day too. But let’s learn some basics.
FORM: At any level of weight lifting, having the correct form while performing the exercise should be of utmost priority. Poor form leads to injuries, which lead to you sitting at home and missing the gym for weeks. As a beginner, start with less weights, get your form right, and then progress. How to get your form right? Record yourself while working out and seek out a coach who would agree to review your form.
PROGRESS: Once you get your form nailed down, stick with light weights and focus on volume. This is where you work off of sets and repetitions. You can keep the weight constant for a few weeks, and work on either adding more reps per set or more sets in the exercise.
Eg: started with : 5lb x 3 sets x 10 reps
Progressed to: 5lb x 3 sets x 13 reps (increase in reps)
Then to: 5lb x 4 sets x 13 reps (increase in sets)
Once you’re comfortable with this increased volume, you can gradually increase weight. Increasing weight might in turn cause you to decrease repetitions or sets owing to fatigue sooner.
Are more reps beneficial?
Beneficial is subjective. Assuming you got your form perfect, reps is a constituent of volume. If you do not have access to higher weights, sure, increasing reps will be beneficial in achieving muscle hypertrophy. If you opt for a higher weight, reps might decrease. But in both cases, volume can be kept constant
Eg: 5lb x 3 sets x 10 reps == 10 lbs x 3 sets x 5 reps
So there really is no difference here in volume. With an increase in weight/load, you can focus on strength. Buuuut the point to drive home here is that if this increase in weight causes you to compromise form (like moving your entire body or using your back and leg drive to do bicep curls), then you’re better off trying to increase volume with lower weights or decreasing volume with higher weights. Simpler terms, get back to 5 lbs and increase reps, or decrease the reps on the heavier weight.