Energy Coaching 101: How A lot Weight Ought to I Raise?

"Do you even lift?"

According to today's guide, not only can you say "YUP" but you can also know exactly how MUCH to lift!

We'll help you grow big and strong so you can defend yourself against your older brother if he attacks you in the hallway.

As part of our Strength 101 series, we're going to tell you exactly what you need to know about lifting weights and strength training:

If you are faced with a billion other strength training questions as you building your own workout, or if you are overwhelmed by all of these and unsure how to get stronger, you are in good company!

It can be scary enough to hold most people off, which is why we created our coaching program.

Your NF coach will do an initial assessment to work out exactly how much weight you should start lifting. Then they design a program that they regularly adapt to your progress and schedule.

Additionally, our app allows your coach to perform video form reviews on a regular basis to ensure that you are progressing safely and consistently.

Let it make you damn strong. Find out more about our online coaching program!

With that out of the way, let's get into the gist of "How Much Weight Should I Lift?"

Why You Should Lift Your Own Body Weight First

Stop! (Wait a minute…)

Before figuring out how much weight you can lift, make sure you know how to do the movement as flawlessly as possible without weight.


Because if you cannot properly do a movement without weight, then how can you expect to do it properly with weight?

Think about it – if you couldn't walk up a flight of stairs normally, would you expect to be able to walk up the stairs with a bag of hammers?

No – you'd only get hurt.

And what do you even do with a bag of hammers?

STEP ONE: Learn every move without bars, dumbbells or extra weight.

What could you let say:

"Staci, how on earth do I do a deadlift or an overhead press with no weight? And I know I can do a bodyweight squat, but isn't it very different to do a barbell back squat? "

Easy – take either a broomstick (beware of splinters!), A mop handle, or PVC pipe (I use a 1.25 inch PVC cut in half) and pretend it's a barbell.

If you're trying to mimic a dumbbell move, either take a short dowel or PVC, or just hold your hands in your fist like you're holding onto something.

While not exactly the same as maintaining your actual weight, you can practice getting into the correct positions.

Practice the movements in your own home with no other people around you (so you are less nervous).

You can also easily record yourself on video. I use my computer's webcam or phone camera and a small tripod.

Here is a video of me when I started lifting in 2011 trying to figure out how to deadlift to get an idea of ​​what I'm talking about:

Now I can deadlift 455 pounds and am a senior coach for our online coaching program:

Do you want me to teach you the deadlift? Learn more about our online coaching program:

If you'd like a beginner weight training session to follow:

If you're interested in figuring out the correct shape for each barbell move, start here:

We also strongly recommend that you learn the starting force, commonly known as the bible of barbell training.

Once you are comfortable with your form, you can see if you can pass the bar.

(Guaranteed to be the nicest lawyer joke you've ever read about nerd fitness, by the way).

Now what if you want a full bodyweight workout program to do at home to prepare for strength training?

You can download the worksheet here when you log in in the box below:

Grab your beginner body weight routine worksheet. No gym required!

  • Do this workout at home, without any equipment
  • Avoid the Most Common Mistakes Everyone Makes While Exercising Body Weight
  • Learn how to finally get your first pull-up

To start the barbell workout, start lifting the bar

Once you are comfortable with every move with a broomstick or PVC, you can head to the bar.

Your first workout in the gym shouldn't be heavier than "just" the bar, that is, the bar without any additional weight.

How much does a barbell weigh?

  • A standard dumbbell weighs 20.4 kg.
  • A “lady's dumbbell” weighs 15.8 kg.

Now, don't be discouraged if this seems really difficult – especially with upper body movements.

When I started, I couldn't bench press or press an empty barbell overhead.

If the bar seems too difficult to start:

  1. See if the gym has a lighter barbell – some have a "women bar" or a "workout bar" that usually weighs 30-35 pounds and 15 pounds, respectively. These are usually shorter, but that's okay!
  2. Start with dumbbells – although the movement is not exactly the same, you can build strength:

    This will help you handle a barbell down the street.

  3. Focus on body weight training (pushups, pull ups, lunges, squats) until you have built up the strength to handle the bar.

Well, on opposite ends of the spectrum, if the bar seems really bright, I would STILL encourage you to only finish your first workout with the bar.

Focus on getting each rep right, and worry about weight gain next time.

Check your ego at the door!

I'd rather see someone in the gym lift the bar in the correct shape than watch someone with terrible shape lift 400 pounds.

It makes me…

Note: If you finish your first workout with the bar and are still unfamiliar with the movements, it's never bad to do your next workout with only the bar again.

If you are unfamiliar with the movement and start gaining weight, not only are you more likely to injure yourself because your body isn't ready, but you are also more likely to injure yourself because you are unsure of yourself the bear.

Confidence is something that is very important as you start lifting heavier and heavier.

If you plan to use dumbbells as a main lift (rather than a barbell), start with the 5 to 10 pound dumbbells to get a feel for things.

Whether you are starting out with dumbbells or are ready to sit on a barbell, it is important that you get it right!

We check the form of EVERY online coaching client during their training so they are sure they are doing these steps correctly!

Have an expert review your form and if you get the move right, don't worry:

We have also created a specific sequence of training routines that you can follow for free in our guide Strength Training 101: Everything You Need To Know.

Get yours for free when you sign up in the box below:

Download our comprehensive guide

  • Everything you need to know to get strong.
  • Exercise routines for body weight AND strength training.
  • How to find the right gym and train properly in one.

This is how you start adding weight to the barbell

If you want to start with a beginner program, such as the workouts in our Beginner Strength Training Workouts or our 6 Beginner Fitness Workouts, you have to start easy!

Some common rep ranges for beginner programs are:

  • 5 sets of 5 reps
  • 3 sets of 8 reps
  • 3 sets of 10 reps

Let's do an example. Your program calls for you to do 5 sets of 5 on a particular lift.

1) After a proper warm-up routine, start again with the blank bar and do the prescribed number of reps (this would be 5).

"But I thought you said we could add weight this time?" you might think

You can – but no matter how heavy you are, always start with the bar to warm up for EVERY workout.

If you watch the best lifters in your gym, you will find that they are all warming up with "just the bar", often for multiple sets!

This will help keep your body warm, prepare your nervous system and all of your muscles for this movement, and get you ready to lift heavy weights.

As a beginner in strength training, this is especially important to learn the correct technique.

2) Add a small amount of weight to the bar. Depending on how heavy the bar felt, add anywhere from 2.5 to 10 pounds on each side first. If in doubt, add the lower amount. You can always add more! Do another set of 5 reps at this weight.

(Note: if you do a dumbbell workout, instead of adding weight to the bar, add weight to the dumbbell. Start with 5-pound dumbbells, then for example 10-pound dumbbells.)

3) If you have been able to do these reps without losing shape or slowing the speed of the bar, add more weight to the bar.

Base the amount of new weight on how it felt. If the last sentence felt really easy, add 10. If it felt heavy add 2.5 or 5.

4) Keep doing this until your form breaks or the lift slows down on one of your repetitions.

The weight you used before your form collapsed is your starting weight that you will base all future workouts on!

5) If it's a lower number than expected, that's really great!

Don't try to be a hero on your first workout Better to start too easy than too difficult.

Remember: we try to get solid and productive results and not find our maximum. That's why we want all of the repetitions to be fast and in the perfect shape that our body allows.

And since this is the first time you are testing heavier weights, don't be afraid to have a spotter or use pens to keep your safety!

If you don't want to find out any of this yourself, and you just want someone to tell you exactly how much to lift, how many sets, repetitions, etc, I hear you.

I've had a lift trainer for years and it's the best investment I make every month!

No more guesswork. Let's create a custom program that you can follow in our online coaching app! Learn more:

How do I know when to add more weight?

Once you find your starting weight, you'll want to use something called "progressive overload".

That sounds a lot fancier than it really is.

As we pointed out in our Strength 101 intro, progressive overload means gradually increasing the load on your body as you exercise.

In other words, we need to increase something regularly. Usually this means the amount of weight we are lifting.

And for beginners, this can often happen after every workout.

During every workout, our muscles are torn and broken down. Then after every workout – for the next 24-48+ hours, our body will repair itself on its own. If you sleep properly and eat properly, it will heal back stronger than before.

Conversely, if you did 5 sets of 5 squats at 100 pounds per workout for months, will you get stronger?

Most likely not.

Your body is just about to lift 5 × 5 at 100 pounds more efficiently, burning fewer calories, and using less energy to make this movement possible.

How much weight do you add when you are ready to step up your workout?

That depends on how difficult the set was last time.

That's where great notes come into play (I'm a big fan of a simple notebook or Evernote documents on my phone.)

Make sure you document every workout with:

Did you fail on your last set?

Did your form collapse on one of the repetitions?

You will land in one of two positions:

WAY A.: You have not completed any of your repetitions or your form has collapsed. The next time you do the same weight, focus on improving your form and technique with each rep.

Remember, if you do the same workout as last time, but each rep is more solid and in better shape than before, you are still doing better than the last workout.

In other words, you are still moving up.

You don't necessarily have to gain weight every workout to gain gains. Less rest between sets, more control and better form, and more reps mean you will get stronger.

WAY B.: You were able to get through all of your sets with great form and without slowing down the bar. Congratulation! Consider adding more next week. It's not uncommon for beginners to add 10 to 20 pounds per week to some lifts (especially the squats and deadlifts). However, don't be discouraged if all you add is 2.5 or 5!

The best you can do: Slowly add the smallest amount of weight possible and move forward consistently. This is much preferable for moving quickly and then reaching a plateau.

Every week as you add a little weight you build strength, confidence, and dynamism.

Note: For some exercises, especially the overhead or bench press, adding just 5 pounds can be too much to increase per workout.

Personally, I have a set of 1.25 pound plates that I bring to the gym so I can still make progress on a regular basis.

Remember: you're going to have shitty days at the gym. There will be days when you can't add weight or feel like you need to take a step back.

So many things affect how your elevators will feel – from having a baby crying all night, to stress in the office, too much alcohol at a big game, or just not enough to eat for your goals.

It is important that you listen to your body instead of listening to a number that tells you what to lift.

You want to make progress every time you hit the gym and that means you have a specific plan to follow.

Don't have a workout to follow? Tired of not getting results despite your best efforts?

We do that professionally! Help people like you get out of the rut and finally give them the results they want.

After doing my own exercise program for 5 years, I hired a trainer and it changed my life. We will also help you achieve your goals.

No more guesswork. Let's make an accurate program for you to follow! We will be with you every step of the way. Learn more:

How do I calculate my 1 Rep MAx? I want to know how much I can lift!

Really fun finding the maximum amount of weight you can do for one rep (max one rep) every now and then.

However, as a beginner just starting out with weight training, it is better to do the correct movement first and slowly add weight before trying to find maximum repetitions.

I would suggest that you follow a program for yourself at least six weeks before you even try "a serious single".


Even if your form is as good as you can get it now, you will get a lot better and learn how to make tweaks and corrections over time.

When you first start you are still in control, so your max for one rep is not a "real" max for one rep.

Also, when you exercise, you are exercising everything in your body.

Some things, like muscles and bones, get stronger while others, like your nervous system, get more efficient.

The more you do something, the better you get at it. And in the beginning you get better very quickly.

It is unwise to try a maximum of 1 repetition while learning the movement.

This is one of the classic mistakes! The best known of these is "never get involved in land war in Asia".

But this is only a little less known: "As a beginner, never try a maximum of 1 repetition."

Even if you can do it with lighter weights in proper form, once the weight approaches your maximum of 1 rep, your form will begin to break down You are more likely to harm yourself.

When your form breaks down, you must have the experience behind you to exit (or get off) the elevator safely.

Sometimes when you look at weightlifting or powerlifting the lifts aren't the prettiest you've ever seen.

However, the lifters are experienced enough to handle this and know how to bail if something goes wrong.

You are not a beginner.

Steve from Team NF worked with a trainer for over 4 years to finally get his 40kg deadlift:

If you would like to work with a trainer who can help you perfect your form and train you to reach 1-rep max values ​​as well, we are here for you! We're slightly biased, but having a coach in your corner is an absolute game changer.

Do you want to lift more than ever before? Work with our online coaching program and get results! Learn more:

What's a respectable amount to lift?

The simple answer? The weight that suits you.

You're not going to compete against the man next to you. You go up against the SIE from last week (like when you go up against your ghost in Mario Kart).

There is no simple calculation or formula for what you can aim for.

While some people have set strength standards, it really comes down to your body, your body type, your background as an athlete, your genetics, and many other factors.

You should raise the amount that is right for you today. For your next workout, try to lift more (even if you can't lift more weight, one rep more, or rest less between sets) than you did last time.

That's it.

As part of this journey, I want you to completely forget about strength standards and everyone around you.

I don't care if the guy (or the girl) is sitting next to you £ 500 for sets of 10.

If you squat 50 pounds and the weight is challenging, this is the weight you should be lifting.

These are the big mistakes to avoid:

NEVER try to outsmart the person next to you.

Never adjust weight to impress anyone.

Nobody judges you by weight on the bar and if so, they are not worth your time or energy.

To sum it up again: "How much should I lift?":

  1. The strongest lifters perform a dynamic warm up first.
  2. The strongest lifters “only” warm up with the bar.
  3. The strongest lifters focus on doing their reps and aren't ashamed of the fact that they lift less than the guy next to them.
  4. It takes time for the strongest lifters to get things right, even if it means they are lifting less weight than they know they can.
  5. The strongest lifters, like you, did a beginner program.

So remember: start slowly, gain weight slowly, and be conservative.

It's amazing how much even adding 2kg a week adds up! It's far better to play it safe in the beginning than feel hurt and frustrated before you have a chance to make progress.

Our strength training changes life. Learn more:

Do you even lift?

Hopefully this article about strength training got you excited, and now you know exactly how much to lift.

For people looking for the next step, we have three options for you to try:

1) If you'd like to complete a strength training program tailored to your goals, head to our popular online coaching program.

You will work with a certified NF trainer who will get to know you better than you, will review your form and create a training strategy that will develop further with you.

Put a Yoda in your pocket with our coaching app! Wake up knowing exactly what to do every day:

2) If you want a daily prompt to exercise at the gym (or at home), check out NF Journey. Our fun habit-building app will help you exercise more, eat healthier, and (literally) improve your life.

Try your free trial here:

3) join the rebellion! Join hundreds of thousands of people like you. It's free to attend and we have a dozen free guides for you if you sign up in the yellow box below.

Download our comprehensive guide

  • Everything you need to know to get strong.
  • Exercise routines for body weight AND strength training.
  • How to find the right gym and train properly in one.

Let's answer these questions so you can get stronger again!

What are your other big questions about weightlifting and how much should you be lifting?


PS: Make sure to check out the rest of Strength training 101 Series:


Photo source: Strongman, Four Bricks Tall: Scenes from an empty lot in Brooklyn, Volume 1., hxdbzxy ©, Lego Lifting.

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