HomeHealth & FitnessHow Much Weight Should I Lift? (Pick Your Starting Weight)

How Much Weight Should I Lift? (Pick Your Starting Weight)

“Do you even lift?”

After immediately’s information, not solely will you be capable of say “YUP,” however you’ll additionally know precisely how MUCH you ought to be lifting!

We’ll enable you get huge and powerful so you may struggle again towards your older brother when he tackles you within the hallway.

Get strong so you don't end up a victim.

As a part of our Strength 101 series, we’re going to inform you precisely what you must learn about lifting weights and energy coaching:

If you end up with a billion different energy coaching questions as you build your own workout, otherwise you’re overwhelmed in any respect of this and unsure tips on how to get stronger…you’re in good firm!

It might be scary sufficient to maintain MOST folks from beginning, which is definitely why we created our Coaching Program.

Your NF Coach will do an preliminary evaluation to calculate precisely how a lot weight you need to begin lifting. They’ll then design a program that they’ll alter often primarily based in your progress and schedule.

Plus, with our app, your coach can do common video kind checks to be sure to safely make constant progress. 

With that out of the way in which, let’s leap into the nitty-gritty of “How a lot weight ought to I carry?

Step #1: Why You Should Lift Your Own Bodyweight First

This LEGO lifts his own bodyweight no problem.

Stop! (Wait a minute…)

Before attempting to determine how a lot weight you may carry, let’s be sure to know tips on how to do the motion, as flawlessly as attainable, with none weight in any respect.


Because when you can’t do a motion appropriately with out weight, how are you going to anticipate to do it proper WITH weight?

Think about it – when you can’t stroll up a flight of stairs usually, would you anticipate to have the ability to stroll up the flight of stairs carrying a sack of hammers?

No – you’d solely damage your self.[1]

Also, what are you even doing with a sack of hammers?

STEP ONE: be taught every motion with none bars, dumbbells, or added weight.

Which would possibly make you say:

Staci, how on earth do I do a deadlift or an overhead press without any weight? And I know I can do a bodyweight squat, but isn’t it completely different doing a barbell back squat?”

Easy – seize both a broomstick (watch out for splinters!), mop deal with, or PVC pipe (I use a 1.25” PVC minimize in half) and faux it’s a barbell.

If you’re attempting to imitate a dumbbell motion, both seize a brief dowel, PVC, or simply maintain your fingers in a fist as when you have been holding on to one thing.

While it’s not the very same as holding precise weight, it should assist you to observe entering into the proper positions.

Practice the actions in your personal residence with out different folks round you (so that you’ll be much less nervous).

Also, you may videotape your self fairly simply. I’ve use my laptop’s webcam, or my cellphone digital camera and a little tripod, then accomplished the motion with a broomstick.

Now, I can deadlift 455 kilos and I’m a Senior Coach for our Online Coaching Program:

Staci showing you how to deadlift 455 pouds.

If you desire a newbie energy coaching exercise to comply with:

If you have an interest in nerding out about correct kind for every barbell motion, begin right here:

We additionally HIGHLY suggest you decide up Starting Strength, broadly thought-about to be the Bible of barbell coaching.

Once you be ok with your kind, you may see when you can “pass the bar.”

(Guaranteed to be the nicest lawyer joke you’ll ever learn on Nerd Fitness, by the way in which).

Now, if desire a full Bodyweight Workout Program that you could comply with together with at residence that can assist get you prepped to begin energy coaching?

You can obtain the worksheet to comply with alongside right here once you enroll within the field beneath:

Step #2: How to Start Barbell Training with Lifting the Bar

Coach Staci doing a barbell lunge, an advanced lunge variation.

Once you’re comfy with every motion with a broomstick or PVC, then you may transfer to the bar.

Your first gym workout shouldn’t go any heavier than “just” the bar, which implies the bar with none added weight.

How a lot does a barbell weigh?

  • A regular barbell weighs 45 lbs (20.4 kg).
  • A “women’s barbell” weighs 35 lbs (15.8 kg).

Now, don’t be discouraged if this appears actually heavy – particularly on higher physique actions.

When I began out, I couldn’t bench press or overhead press an empty barbell.

Here Staci is pressing just the bar, a could practice for warming up.

If the bar appears too heavy to begin:

  1. See if the health club has a lighter barbell – some have a “women’s bar” or a “training bar” that normally weighs 30-35 lbs and 15 lbs, respectively. These are normally shorter, however that’s okay!
  2. Start out with dumbbells – whereas the motion will not be the very same, it lets you construct up the energy:In the neutral grip press, shown here, you have your hands together during the movement.
    This will enable you deal with a barbell down the street.
  3. Focus on body weight coaching (push-ups, pull-ups, lunges, squats) till you construct the energy to deal with the bar.

Now, on reverse ends of the spectrum, if the bar appears actually gentle, I would STILL encourage you to finish your first exercise with simply the bar.


According to Mike Rebold from Hiram College, once you begin lifting the barbell or dumbbells for the primary time you’ll discover muscle deficiencies (i.e., one facet that’s weaker than the opposite). It can typically come all the way down to motor items, or the nuerons that assist muscle fibers.[2]

Rebold explains:

When you first begin energy coaching and lifting the barbell or dumbbells, your motor items don’t hearth as rapidly and smaller motor items that don’t generate numerous power are recruited. As you proceed understanding and develop into extra educated, your motor items hearth extra quickly and your mind recruits bigger motor items that may generate extra power permitting you to carry heavier weights. This is why the progressive overload precept is vital.

That means concentrate on getting every rep right, and fear about including weight subsequent time.

Check your ego on the door!

I would reasonably see any person within the health club lifting the bar with correct kind than watch any person with terrible kind carry 400 lbs.

That makes me…

Nick Offerman Cringes when people try to lift too much weight with bad form

Note: If you end your first exercise with the bar and nonetheless aren’t comfy with the actions, it’s by no means a nasty factor to do your subsequent exercise with simply the bar once more.

If you’re not comfy with the motion and also you begin including weight, not solely will you be extra more likely to injure your self as a result of your physique isn’t prepared, however you’ll be extra more likely to damage your self since you gained’t be assured below the bar.

Confidence is one thing that is essential as you begin lifting heavier and heavier.

Mike Rebold helps this concept:

Self-esteem is confidence in a single’s personal talents. Research has proven that in an effort to enhance one’s vanity, or one’s confidence to train and carry heavier weights, you should first incorporate and grasp easy workout routines.[3]

This is why we additionally suggest beginning with the barbell or gentle dumbbells. Because as you grasp these easy workout routines, that can end in your vanity being improved after which you should have extra confidence to strive new workout routines and to carry heavier weights. 

Speaking of, when you’re planning on utilizing dumbbells as your fundamental carry (and never a barbell):

Start with 5-10 lb dumbbells to get a really feel for issues.

If you don't have a spotter, the dumbbell press can be a great chest alternative.

Whether you’re beginning with dumbbells or prepared to maneuver onto a barbell, it’s vital to do it correctly!

We verify the type of EVERY on-line teaching consumer on their exercises in order that they have the boldness that they’re doing these strikes appropriately!

We’ve additionally created a selected sequence of exercise routines you may comply with together with without cost in our information Strength Training 101: Everything You Need to Know.

Grab yours free once you enroll within the field beneath:

Step #3: How To Start Adding Weight to the Barbell

Man with weighted barbell at gym

If you’re seeking to begin on a newbie program, such because the exercises in our Beginner Strength Training Workouts or our 6 Beginner Gym Workouts, you must begin gentle!

Just a few widespread rep ranges for newbie applications are:[4]

  • 5 units of 5 reps
  • 3 units of 8 reps
  • 3 units of 10 reps

Let’s do an instance: your program has you doing 3 units of 8 on a specific carry.

1) After a correct warm-up routine, begin with the empty bar once more, and full the prescribed variety of reps (for this, it might be 8).

“But I thought you said we could add weight this time?” you is likely to be considering.

You can – however regardless of how heavy you’re going, all the time begin with simply the bar to heat up for EACH train.

As Staci shows here, keep your arms vertical (as much as you can).

If you watch one of the best lifters in your health club, you’ll discover all of them heat up with “just the bar” to begin, typically for a number of units!

This helps get your physique heat, primes your nervous programs and your entire muscle tissue for that motion, and will get you able to carry heavier weight.[5]

As a beginner to strength training, that is particularly vital to ingrain correct method.

2) Add a small quantity of weight to the bar. Depending on how heavy the bar felt, begin by including:

  • 2 – 5 kilos for higher physique workout routines.
  • 5 – 10 kilos for decrease physique workout routines.

When doubtful, add the decrease quantity.[6] You can all the time add extra! Do one other set of 8-12 reps at this weight.

(Note: If you’re doing dumbbell coaching, as an alternative of including weight to the bar, improve the burden of the dumbbell. Start with 5 lb. dumbbells, then 10 lb. dumbbells, for instance)

3) If you have been capable of full these reps each with out shedding kind and with out the pace of the bar slowing, add extra weight to the bar.

Base the quantity of recent weight off the way it felt – if the final set felt actually gentle, add 5’s, if it felt heavy, add 2.5’s’s.

Here’s a very good guideline from NSCA :[7]

If an individual can do two or extra reps than the purpose in an train on two consecutive coaching classes, then they need to improve the load.

4) Continue to do that till your kind begins to interrupt down or the pace of the carry will get slower on any of your reps.[8]

The weight you used proper earlier than your kind began to interrupt down is your beginning weight on which you’ll base all future exercises!

5) If it’s a decrease quantity than you anticipate, that’s nice truly!

Don’t attempt to be a hero your first exercise, it’s higher to begin out too gentle than too heavy.[9]

Remember – we’re attempting to get stable, productive units in, not discover our max, so we wish the entire reps to be quick and with as good kind as our physique permits.

Since you’re testing out heavier weights for the primary time, by no means be afraid to have a spotter, or to make use of pins to make sure your security!

If you don’t need to determine ANY of this out by yourself, and also you simply need any person to inform you precisely how a lot to carry, what number of units, reps, and many others., I hear you.

I’ve had a lifting coach for years and it’s one of the best funding I make every month!

Step #4: How Do I Know When to Add More Weight?

Joni doing squats at Camp Nerd Fitness, a great time for all involved.

Once you’ve discovered your beginning weight, you’ll need to begin utilizing one thing referred to as “progressive overload.”

This sounds lots fancier than it truly is.

As Coach Jim explains above, progressive overload means steadily rising the stress put in your physique throughout coaching.[10]

In different phrases, we have to improve one thing, often. Usually, this implies the quantity of weight we carry.

And for novices, that may typically occur after each exercise.

During each exercise, our muscle tissue are torn and damaged down. Then after each exercise – for the subsequent 24-48+ hours, our physique repairs itself. If you’re getting correct sleep[11]  and vitamin,[12] it heals again stronger than it was earlier than.

the "crushed it" gif from Pitch Perfect

Conversely, when you do 5 units of 5 squats at 100 lbs each single exercise for months, are you getting stronger?

Most doubtless not.

Your physique is definitely simply getting extra environment friendly at lifting 5×5 at 100 lbs, burning fewer energy, and utilizing much less power to make that motion occur.

So, how a lot weight do you add once you’re prepared to extend your exercises?

That relies on how tough the set was final time.

This is the place great note-taking comes in (I’m an enormous fan of a easy pocket book, or Evernote docs on my cellphone).

Be certain to doc every exercise with:

Did you go to failure in your final set?

Did your kind break down on any of the reps?

You’ll find yourself in one in every of two positions:

PATH A: You failed to finish any of your reps or your kind began to interrupt down. Do the identical weight once more subsequent exercise, and concentrate on boosting your kind and method of every rep.

Remember, if you’re doing the identical exercise as final time, however every rep is extra stable and with higher kind than earlier than, you’re nonetheless doing higher than you have been the final exercise.

In different phrases, you’re nonetheless leveling up.

These characters know how much to lift, so they can get strong and defeat their enermies.

You don’t essentially should go up in weight each exercise to see good points.

You may additionally concentrate on:

  • Less relaxation between units.
  • More management and higher kind.
  • More repetitions.

All of which implies you’re getting stronger.

PATH B: You have been capable of get by your entire units with nice kind, and with out the bar slowing down. Congrats! Consider including extra subsequent week. It’s not exceptional for novices so as to add 10-20lbs every week to some lifts (particularly squats and deadlifts), although don’t get discouraged when you’re solely including 2.5 or 5![13]

The BEST THING YOU CAN DO: slowly add the smallest quantity of weight attainable, and progress persistently. This is far most popular to progressing rapidly after which hitting a plateau.

Each week, as you add a bit of little bit of weight, you’re building strength, confidence, and momentum.

Note: For some lifts, particularly the overhead press or bench press, including simply 5 lbs could also be an excessive amount of to go up per exercise.

I personally have a set of 1.25lb plates that I convey with me to the health club in order that I can nonetheless progress often.

Remember: You’re going to have shitty days on the health club. There will likely be days when you may’t add any weight, otherwise you really feel like you need to take a step backward.

So many issues have an effect on how your lifts are going to really feel:

  • A child crying all evening – inflicting sleep deprivation and leading to systemic irritation and decreased GH launch = poor restoration
  • Lots of stress on the workplace.
  • To ingesting an excessive amount of on the huge sport – inflicting abdomen discomfort and bloating.
  • Just not eating enough for your goalsnot consuming sufficient carbohydrates and fat to assist power calls for or not consuming sufficient protein to facilitate muscle protein synthesis and restoration.[14]

It’s vital to hearken to your physique over listening to some quantity telling you what you need to be lifting.

You need to make progress each time you stroll into the health club, and which means having a selected plan to comply with.

Don’t have a exercise to comply with? Tired of not getting outcomes regardless of all the hassle?

This is what we do for a residing! Help folks such as you get out of ruts and eventually get them the outcomes they need.

After doing my very own exercise programming for five years, I hired a coach and it modified my life. Let us enable you hit your targets too.

Step #5: How Do I Calculate My 1 Rep MAx?

Deadlifts make a great addition when you build your own workout.

It’s actually enjoyable to seek out the utmost quantity of weight you are able to do for one repetition (one rep max) each now and again.

However, as a beginner who is just starting strength training, it’s higher that you simply begin with getting the motion proper and including weight slowly earlier than looking for a one-rep max.

I would recommend you comply with a program for no less than six weeks earlier than even making an attempt “a heavy single”.


Even in case your kind is nearly as good as you may get it now, you’ll get much better, studying tips on how to make tweaks and corrections as you go.

When you first begin out, you’re nonetheless getting all the pieces down, so your one-rep max gained’t be a “true” one-rep max.

Plus, once you practice, you’re coaching all the pieces in your physique.

Some issues, like muscle tissue and bones, get stronger, whereas others, like your nervous system, get extra environment friendly.

The extra you do one thing, the higher you get at it. And to start with you’ll get higher in a short time.

It’s unwise to aim a 1 repetition most once you’re studying the motion.

This is likely one of the basic blunders! The most well-known of which is “never get involved in a land war in Asia.”

Vizzini from Princess Bride knows you shouldn't do 1 rep maxes as a beginner

But solely barely much less well-known is that this: “Never attempt a 1-rep max as a beginner.”

Even if you are able to do it with correct kind with lighter weights, as quickly as the burden will get near your 1 rep max your kind will begin to break down, and you usually tend to damage your self.

Some phrases of warning right here from Mike Rebold, an knowledgeable in train physiology:

During 1RM testing, fatigue will occur! One-repetition most testing has been found to overload the neuromuscular system leading to decrease motor unit activation, much less power manufacturing, and finally extra fatigue. This stage of fatigue skilled by the lifter might be sufficient to end in harm, particularly if the lifter is a novice (i.e., newbie).

When your kind begins to interrupt down, you must have the expertise behind you to complete (or bail out of) the carry safely.

If you watch any weightlifting or powerlifting competitors, generally the lifts aren’t the prettiest lifts you’ve ever seen.

However, the lifters are skilled sufficient to deal with this, and know tips on how to bail if one thing goes unsuitable.

As a newbie, you aren’t.

Team NF’s Steve worked with a coach for 4+ years to lastly get his 420 lb. deadlift:

Rebel Leader Steve showing how to do a 420 lb deadlift at the gym.

If you need to work with a coach that may enable you good your kind and practice to hit 1-rep maxes too, we’re right here for ya! We’re barely biased, however having a coach in your nook is an absolute game-changer.

Step #6: what’s a good quantity to be lifting?

Camp was great, for lots of reasons, but mainly because we benched.

The easy reply? The weight that’s best for you.

You aren’t competing towards the man subsequent to you; you’re competing towards the YOU from final week (like racing your ghost in Mario Kart).

Lifting at the gym can be like racing against yourself in Mario Kart.

As far as what you may attempt for, there’s no straightforward calculation or components.

While some folks have put out energy requirements, it’s actually as much as your physique, your physique kind, your background as an athlete, your genetics, and plenty of different components.[15]

You needs to be lifting the quantity that’s best for you immediately. In your subsequent exercise, you need to be attempting to carry extra (even when you can’t do extra weight, strive doing yet another rep, or with much less relaxation between units) than you probably did final time.

That’s it.

As part of this journey, I need you to utterly overlook about energy requirements and overlook about everybody round you.

I don’t care if the man (or woman) subsequent to you is squatting 500 lbs for units of 10.

If you’re squatting 50 lbs, and that’s the burden that’s difficult for you, then that’s the burden you need to be lifting.

These are the BIG errors you must keep away from:

Never EVER attempt to outlift the particular person subsequent to you.

Never EVER alter the burden to impress somebody.

No one’s judging you primarily based on the burden on the bar, and if they’re, they aren’t price your time or power.

To recap “How much should I lift?”:

  1. The strongest lifters do a dynamic warm-up first.
  2. The strongest lifters heat up with “just” the bar.
  3. The strongest lifters concentrate on getting their reps in, and aren’t ashamed that they’re lifting lower than the man subsequent to them.
  4. The strongest lifters take time to get issues proper, even when which means lifting much less weight than they know they “can” do.
  5. The strongest lifters began off doing a beginners program identical to you.

So bear in mind – begin gradual, add weight slowly, and keep conservative.

It’s superb how a lot even including simply 5 lbs (2kg) every week provides as much as! It’s much better to play it protected to start with than to seek out your self injured and annoyed earlier than you might have an opportunity to progress.

Do You Even Lift?

Hopefully, this text EXCITED you about energy coaching, and also you now know precisely how a lot to carry. 

For folks in search of the subsequent step, we’ve bought 3 choices you need to try:

1) If you need to comply with a energy coaching program that’s particular to your targets, try our in style Online Coaching Program.

You’ll work with a licensed NF teacher who will get to know you higher than you already know your self, verify your kind, and create a exercise technique that can evolve alongside you.

2) If you desire a each day immediate for doing exercises on the health club (or at residence), try NF Journey. Our enjoyable habit-building app helps you train extra often, eat more healthy, and stage up your life (actually).

Try your free trial proper right here:

3) Join the Rebellion! Join a whole bunch of 1000’s of individuals such as you. It’s free to hitch, and we’ve a dozen free guides for you once you enroll within the yellow field beneath.

Let’s get these questions answered so you may get again to getting stronger!

What are your different huge questions on lifting weight and the way a lot you need to be lifting?


PS: Be certain to take a look at the remainder of Strength Training 101 sequence:


photograph supply: Strongman, Four Bricks Tall: Scenes from an empty lot in Brooklyn, vol 1., hxdbzxy © 123RF.com, Lego Lifting.



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