When you first start a new weight lifting programme to lose weight, it can be difficult to know where to start. Walking into the gym you tend to find men grunting with huge dumbbells and women waving around the little pink ones, which one should you be? Should you fall into one of these stereotypes at all?
Where to start when looking to lose weight:
For weight loss research has found that that lifting between 60-80% of your 1 rep max (the heaviest amount of weight you can lift for one repetition of an exercise) is the best way to stimulate muscle growth, which is what helps you lose fat by burning more calories. Whilst this is all well and good, how do you know your one rep max without having to try and near kill yourself finding out for every exercise?
Typically you can lift 60-80% of your one rep max for about 12-15 reps, any more and it's too easy, any less and it’s too heavy. To find this to begin with, is a matter of trial and error, whilst a Personal Trainer can quickly figure out what weights you can lift, they’re still taking a guess with your first few lifts and progressing from there. I always tell my clients to start light and boost your confidence as you can knock the weight up, rather than start to heavy and have to eat humble pie when you can’t lift it, or even worse injure yourself (although damage to your ego can be just as painful).
A weight is suitable when:
- The last few reps are a struggle.
- Your ‘game face’ starts to come out.
- You can feel the ‘burn’ of lactic acid building in the muscle.
Whilst there is no need to go to failure at this point, it’s still important to make sure you’re lifting enough to make a difference to your body composition, you know the drill: “What doesn’t challenge you, doesn’t change you”.
Step by Step Progress:
- Start by finding the weight you can lift for 12-15 reps for each exercise, record it so you don’t forget and stick with 1 or 2 sets whilst you build a little stamina and a lot of confidence. Get familiar with the moves and comfortable with the correct form.
- Now you can move your weights for 15 reps with confidence, move up to three sets. This is usually after 1-2 weeks.
- Stick at it. Lay the foundations for the next 4-6 weeks.
- Now you have solid foundations, start increasing your weight to maintain a progression. The key is to make sure you can only do 12 reps with the weight in play.
- Continue to progress by adding a rep each week at until you reach 15 reps and then increase your weight and drop your reps again.
- Repeat the cycle to ensure you're getting stronger and leaner!
If you’re a female trying to lose weight and this makes you worried you're going to end up too muscley, fear not, read this article on why lifting weights will not make women bulky.
Its also important to remember what starts as your one rep max, won't stay that way. As you get stronger this weight will increase, which is how you progress. The important thing to remember is that for your muscles to grow you have to give them something they can’t already handle, it has to be a struggle, but it will be worth it.