Empower Your Lift: A Guide to Self-Selecting Weights Based on Rep Goals
Let’s dive into the art of choosing the right weight for your workouts! As coaches, we often encounter the pivotal query, ‘Which weight should I opt for?’ My aim in sharing this information is to encourage you to engage in thoughtful consideration. Reflect on whether your current weight choices truly align with your prescribed repetitions and overall fitness goals.
Why is this question important?
How much we lift can be essential in determining what we get out of our workouts. Research does tell us that we can get bigger and stronger with lighter weights performed for higher repetitions and vice versa.
The American College of Sports medicine currently recommends that people should lift around 60-80% of their 1RM during training when looking at improving strength and hypertrophy. You have probably heard the trainers suggest the ‘golden rule’ of having 1-3 reps (max) in the tank. That means training 1-3 repetitions shy of momentary failure. This is a great concept because we also know that, especially for women, our strength will not always be the same on any particular day.
Do people lift heavy enough when left to self-select?
So do people self-select enough weight? In a review by Steele et al. (2022) they found that, on average, people self-selected loads corresponding to approximately 53%1RM, which would be classified as light to moderate. This is alright, but this is too light if you aim for 8-12 reps.
What does it mean for you?
Don’t be someone in this 53% of their 1 RM if you have been training for several weeks. When self-selecting loads, it is essential to ensure that your sets are 1-3 repetitions away from failure, regardless of the load selected. The other option is to get to the end range of the reps stated and continue until you hit the point where you only have a few more reps in the tank.
The other way of ensuring that you are lifting enough is by tracking your loads. That way, you can aim to add a little more each week. We love the use of our app to allow our members to keep a lifting record. You can also do this in a notebook or on your phone.
Ange Drake is an personal trainer, women’s empowerment coach and fitness blogger in the northern suburbs of Melbourne. She is the director of one of the few womens’ only strength training gyms in Melbourne, 23W. Ange helps women to learn how to use strength based training, nutritional strategies and a positive mindset to transform their bodies, relationship with food and mind.
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