Should you be lifting more?

If you’re walking away from your strength workout feeling like you could have given it more, chances are you should have.

When it comes to any type of exercise, it’s challenge that makes change, so it’s important to always seek opportunities to up the ante and push yourself beyond your comfort zone.

That feeling of being completely worn out is typically a good thing. Exercise-induced fatigue (peripheral fatigue) is what breaks down muscle tissue. And while broken down muscle sounds bad, it’s actually beneficial. This muscle breakdown stimulates the repair process which happens during post-exercise recovery. During recovery our muscle tissue is repaired to a state that is better than it was before – making the muscles even stronger.

So next time you’re doing a weights-based workout like BODYPUMP™ pick a couple of tracks where you think you can add an extra weight plate or two to your bar.

Remember, if at any time you feel that lifting a heavier weight is compromising your technique, stop for a few reps and reset before joining back in. Or simply drop your weight back down and try to increase it again another time.

Checklist: Are you ready to raise the bar?

  • The challenge is gone. If you’re regularly working out and you can easily breeze through the motions you need to look at your load. With strength training, the whole point is to overload your muscles so they get stronger. If it’s not a challenge, then it’s time to increase your weight.
  • You’re not getting hot and sweaty. It’s a common misconception that only cardio training raises your heart rate and burns calories, but the strength training of BODYPUMP is shown to drive considerable long-term calorie burn and fitness gains. If you get to the end of the squat track and you don’t have sweat dripping from your elbows, chances are you’re not lifting enough.
  • You could keep going and going and going. If you’re not hanging out for the end of each track then it’s likely that your resistance is too light. Effective strength training relies on your muscles reaching fatigue – which feels like you couldn’t possibly do another repetition without compromising your form.
  • You lift the same weight every workout. Continual progression is the key to getting the most out of any strength training. You need to lift more weight as you get stronger.
  • You’re not enjoying the same results as when you started. Your muscles need to be continually challenged in order to grow. If you keep training at the same workload your muscles won’t be challenged and your progress and results will stop then and there.

Fear not, increasing the weight you lift during BODYPUMP doesn’t mean you’re set to turn into the incredible hulk. The huge amount of reps you perform during a BODYPUMP workout (around four times as many as a person typically achieves when training alone) helps you burn more calories and achieve more meaningful fat loss and muscle fatigue. And this is what builds strength without building bulk.

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This piece originally appeared at lesmills.com.