• Nate Johnson

When Should I Add Weight to An Exercise?


I had a great conversation with Jessica and Casie today about when to add weight to an exercise and I wanted to share with you!


Before diving in, let's acknowledge the fact most of you have your own custom tailored workout plan so you don't have to think about what to do. But I thought you might like to know WHY we have you do what you do. (Note: If you don't have your own custom tailored workouts but are interested in having them, let me know in a reply to this e-mail and we'll talk)


So here's the deal. When you first start Strength Training everything is weak and everything is new. Because you're weak (relatively speaking), and because your body is learning new movements, you'll be able to increase weight very quickly when you start. The body adapts super fast!


BUT the longer you train and the stronger you get, the longer it takes for the body to adapt.


In your first few months we'll have you do more reps and/or weight on every single exercise. That includes the big ones like squats and deadlifts and push-ups. It also includes the smaller exercises like planks, DB curls, and band pull-aparts.


After several months of training (usually somewhere between 3-6 months) you can't go up on everything every workout. I mean think about it- if you added 5 pounds to your DB curls every week for a year and you start with 10 pound dumbbells, you'd be curling 270 pound Dumbbells. Which don't even exist to my knowledge lol


And while it would be MORE realistic to add 5 pounds to your Deadlift every week for a year, it's not likely to happen.


So how do we know which exercises to add weight to and when to do it?


Like I said, in the beginning we'll go up every workout. And we'll continue to go up every workout until you can't. Or at least until adding reps/weight every workout gets really tough. As long as you CAN go up, we'll have you go up. BUT as soon as you can't, or as soon as you're going to be compromising form to go up, we'll stop.


Then we switch to an approach that goes like this:


1. Obsessively try to add reps/weight every workout on your main lifts (Squat, Bench Press, Deadlift, and Press)

2. Try hard (but not obsessively) to add reps/weight every workout on your secondary lifts (Push-Ups, DB BP, DB Rows, Inverted Rows, RFESS, Hip Thrust, RDL, etc.)

3. Only add reps/weight on tertiary lifts when it gets easy (planks, DB curls, band tricep extensions, lateral raise, ab wheel, band pull-aparts, etc.)



As you get even more advanced (after 1-2 years of lifting) your approach might look more like this:


1. Obsessively try to add reps/weight every workout on your main lifts (Squat, Bench Press, Deadlift, and Press)

2. Only add reps/weight on secondary lifts when it gets easy (Push-Ups, DB BP, DB Rows, Inverted Rows, RFESS, Hip Thrust, RDL, etc.)

3. Only add reps/weight on tertiary lifts when it gets easy (planks, DB curls, band tricep extensions, lateral raise, ab wheel, band pull-aparts, etc.)



In the beginning, focus on driving everything up. After several months of training, the main lifts start to become the most important part of the program but the other movements are still very important. After 1-2 years of training, the secondary and tertiary lifts, while still important, play more of a support role in driving up the main lifts and the main lifts become the superstar of your program.


In fact, everything we do in your first few months of training is driving you towards a more advanced program.


Hope that helps!



If you're interested in learning more about how we can help you transform your body, health, and lifestyle with Strength Training...CLICK HERE and fill out the form. We'll reach out in the next 24 hours to schedule a ZERO-pressure phone call to discuss your goals and the details of the program.

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