When and how to increase working weight in strength training

Working with the same weight, you come to stagnation, and not only in the growth of muscles, but also in losing weight. Your body adapts to the load, and after training, you do not get either muscle hypertrophy, or accelerated metabolism, to which the slimming people seek.

Increasing the working weight is an obligatory requirement for classes both in the gym and at home. However, its too rapid increase will not do anything good and may even lead to injury.

When to increase weight: the rule “two for two”

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If you want to increase muscle mass, then, most likely, use a small number of repetitions and a large weight, close to a one-time maximum.

It is important to understand here that for progress, the weight should be such that the last repetition in the approach is on the verge of muscle failure. The rule “two for two” allows you to determine when you stop dealing with muscle failure.

This rule was suggested by Thomas Baechle in the Essentials of Strength Training and Conditioning. That’s how it sounds.

If in the last approach of any exercise you can do two repetitions more and do the last two exercises, it’s time to increase weight.

For example, you make 4 sets of 8 repetitions of dumbbell lifts to the biceps. If you can do 10 repetitions in the last approach, two workouts in a row, then it’s time to raise weight.

There is another, faster option for increasing the working weight – a scheme of fixed approaches.

How to increase weight in the gym

With fixed approaches

If your plan includes 4 sets of 10 repetitions and in the last approach you can perform the exercise as many times as in the first, it’s time to increase weight.

When you try to perform an exercise with a new weight, the number of repetitions in the approaches naturally decreases. For example, in the first approach, you will have 10 repetitions, in the second – only 8, and in the third and fourth – for 6. This is quite a normal scheme for mastering the new weight.

Gradually, you will increase the number of repetitions in the approach until you can perform 10 repetitions in all four approaches. This means that it’s time to raise weight again.

Unlike the previous “two for two” scheme, in this case you do not have to check yourself with additional repetitions in the last approach. As soon as the number of repetitions in all approaches is equalized – increase weight.

What scheme to use? Solve yourself. In my opinion, the rule “two for two” allows you to make training safer and make sure that with increasing weight the technique will not suffer.

In pyramidal exercises

In pyramidal trainings, both the working weight and the number of repetitions change.

In the ascending pyramid, you start with a large number of repetitions with a small working weight and gradually increase it, reducing the number of repetitions. For example, in the first approach, you make a deadlift with a barbell of 60 kg 12 times, then 10 times 65 kg, 8 times 70 kg and 6 times 75 kg.

Warm-up sets with low weight are not performed until the complete failure of the muscles. This should only happen in the latest approaches with the greatest weight.

The descending pyramid, on the contrary, begins with short approaches with the greatest weight: the exercises are performed until the muscles completely fail, in subsequent approaches the weight decreases and the number of repetitions increases.

To increase weight in pyramidal trainings is necessary the same as for a fixed number of repetitions. It is best to navigate the shortest approach with the heaviest weight.

If in the heaviest approach to muscle failure you can perform more repetitions than prescribed by the program, it’s time to increase weight, and in all approaches, including “warm-up” with a lot of repetitions and low weight.

If you are just starting out, you can increase the weight by 5-10%, if you are engaged for a long time – by 2-5%. Usually it is 1-2 kg for small muscle groups and 2-5 kg ​​for large ones.

How to increase weight at home

You can use universal rubber fitness tape. If you are just starting to practice fitness, they can help you to do some exercises with your own weight, and if you need to increase the load, the tapes will help to do this without dumbbells and pancakes.

Each tape corresponds to a certain number of kilograms. For example, there are tapes creating a tension similar to 23 kg, but there are thin models, replacing only 5 kg.

As a rule, the tapes are distributed in color and each manufacturer has its own weight ranges. This is a kind of support, with which you can develop target muscle groups and prepare to perform exercises with your own weight.

Not every person can fight back with the right technique at least once. Pulling the rubber band, you can do it without problems, gradually preparing the muscles for the load.

The same applies to pull-ups, sit-ups on one leg, push-ups from the bars and other exercises. As you develop, change the gums to thinner ones or increase the number of repetitions.

Also, tapes can be used to complicate exercises with own weight or available free weights. For example, you can perform squats or lunges with a ribbon, pulling ribbon to the chest, lifting the legs and other exercises. And after training with them, you can do stretching exercises.

And one more possibility for increasing the load outside the gym is performing more complex exercises. For example, it becomes difficult to make cravings with dumbbells, performing it on one leg, the usual push-ups are replaced by push-ups in the rack on your hands, and the usual squats – for squats “pistol” or “shrimp”.

To avoid injury, increase the difficulty gradually and learn more about the technique of doing each exercise.

When you should not increase weight

Increasing weight, closely monitor whether it affects the technique of execution.

For example, if you increased the weight on the bar during squats and after the first approach, your knees began to wrap inwards, and your back to bend, so you’re still too early to weight.

Getting used to doing the exercises wrong, you are injuring your health and increasing the risk of injury in the future. Therefore, if you feel that you can not do the exercise correctly, it is better to reduce weight and fix the correct performance.


And how often do you increase the working weight?