The Lowdown on Weight Lifting (When You Don’t Change Things up!)

weight lifting

While we’re not going to build a persona for every type of guy who frequents your gym, you’ll have probably met the one that doesn’t seem to shift his weights. In fact, for arguments sake, it might even be you.

In other words, you lift the same amount of weight each and every time – without any alterations whatsoever.

When you view it in writing, it looks bad and put simply – that’s because it is on the whole. In fact, if you don’t start changing the amount of weight you lift you won’t start to achieve your initial goals – unless you fall into a certain category.

We’ll now reveal all and highlight the importance of increasing your weights from time to time, as well as discussing the one group who might benefit from the lack of change.


What is the problem with training with the same weights?

training with the same weights

Firstly, let’s take a look at the majority. In other words, let’s take a look at why sticking with the same amount of weight is bad for most of you.

We should probably get to the reasons why people do this first. Comfort is probably a big factor; after all, you know you can lift ‘x’ weight and ultimately, you’re not going to struggle when the reps start getting higher. There might be more “innocent” reasons as well – if you work out at home you might just not have a huge amount of weights available to use.

Whatever your reason, the results are the same. Your body will start to adapt to this weight and strength and hypotrophy gains become a thing of the past. That’s right, they just stop happening.

The reason is simple; you are no longer putting any form of challenge in front of your body. Sure, that same weight might have once been a challenge, but the fact that you can now regularly complete it means that it’s just not enough anymore. It would be the same for long-distance runners, who are sticking to the same distance every time – it’s just basic science.


Are there any benefits to the practice?

lifting big weights

However, before you reach for the heavier weights, there are some exceptions to the rule. We spoke about a minority who might benefit from this approach at the start of the guide and this is the section that we reveal all.

If you are someone who is looking to improve your muscular endurance, not changing the weight can actually benefit you. For those unaware, muscular endurance is when your muscles are producing the same force for a long period of time. If you’re bodybuilding, it’s not going to appeal, but if you take part in an exercise or sport that requires long sessions (a marathon being the prime example), then you fall into this category. It might also be worth mentioning that those of us with higher muscular endurance tend to power through days with extra energy – so there are benefits unrelated to sport as well.

It’s easy to see if your muscular endurance is improving. At first, your training might have burnt out your muscles and you may have only been able to handle ten reps. Now your muscular endurance has improved, you might be able to manage 16 reps. It’s likely that this amount of reps will keep improving for as long as you stick at the same weight.

It’s certainly not for the masses but for some people, this approach works.


What should you do if you’re looking to get more toned?

getting toned

We’re going to assume that most of you aren’t in the business of increasing your muscular endurance. Instead, you want to get more toned – it’s the most popular aim for modern-day gym enthusiasts.

Unfortunately, the muscular endurance method just doesn’t cut it in these instances. It’s in these cases where you do need to increase the resistance – even if this might seem nigh-on-impossible as you’re attempting to power through your reps.

It can be quite difficult to gauge just when to increase your weights though. Do it too soon and it really will become impossible to progress, as you just won’t be able to get to your target weights. Then, as we’ve spoken about, there is the opposite side of the coin where you aren’t pushing your muscles sufficiently.

In a bid to combat the above, there’s a 2×2 rule which a lot of experts stick with. This is relatively simple; if you know that you would be able to complete two more reps during your session, it’s time to add some more weight on.

This then begs the question on how much weight should you apply to progress? The general consensus is that sticking with 5% is acceptable and merits decent progression.


What about other fitness goals?

fitness goals

We’ve spoken about endurance and toning so far, and in a bid to summarize exactly how you should approach your weight training we’ve put this section together which will discuss all fitness goals.

There are various ‘rules’ which have been suggested by the American Council on Exercise which can help formulate your own program.

Starting with muscular endurance, the advice is to stick between two and three sets. You should look to complete at least twelve reps per set – which makes complete sense following what we said about the ‘benefits’ of not increasing your weights. In terms of rest, look towards the thirty second mark, or even less.

If hypertrophy is your aim, it’s a slightly different story. In these cases you should look towards three and six sets, while your rep count should be somewhere between six and twelve reps. This time, the rest period is slightly higher and you can target anywhere between thirty and ninety seconds.

Next on the list is strength training, and this is where things really do start to change. You’ll generally perform between two and six sets, with a maximum of six reps. The big change comes in relation to the rest period though, with this being set between two and five minutes.

Finally, if you’re just looking to boost your general fitness, either one or two sets will suffice. The rep count should be between eight and fifteen, while your rest period should be between thirty and ninety seconds again.


A closing summary

In summary, it’s not always a terrible thing if you decide to stick with the same weights time and time again. For anyone looking to enhance their muscular endurance, this is the perfect way to achieve it.

On the whole, most of you will want to avoid this practice though. It’s something that can hinder your progress and mean that you don’t see the size and strength benefits that your training should merit. If you feel that you already fall into this boat, the 2×2 and 5% method are two options which can help you to gradually pull yourself out of it and make that elusive progress.

For anyone else, we’d advise checking your program with the recommendations set by the American Council on Exercise – these are tried-and-tested numbers that will help your training immensely if you haven’t already implemented them.

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About George Allen

George Allen - Author - An AFPA Certified holistic and preventative nutrition professional. George is a well known exercise physiology and sports nutrition expert.
Syracuse University graduate: bachelor's degree in nutrition/dietetics (B.S.) and a master's degree in nutrition science with a concentration in counseling (M.A.).
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