Muscle strength – use it or lose it
The first thing to know is you can get in a good muscle workout without any weights at all. Just use your body weight. This Greatist article shows 8 exercises that use your body. Just modify them as necessary if you can’t do them as described. Work to your body’s ability and it will improve in time.
Now, if you use weights or want to use weights, you may wonder what the right amount of weight is for you. Whether you are new to exercise or have been exercising for a long time, this question will come up.
First, how to determine what your appropriate weight is. According to this Q&A from Jillian Michaels, you should lift between 60-85% of your max weight for 1 rep. For simplicity, if your max 1-rep weight is 100, then you should lift between 60 and 85 pounds. This short Q&A also tells you how to know when it is the right time to increase your weight.
Second, what is your goal? Endurance, strength, muscle size? This article from Experience Life says to choose weights for your workout goal:
- Light weights are loads you can lift 15 or more times; they help you build endurance.
- Medium weights are loads you can lift eight to 12 times; they help you build a combination of muscle size and strength.
- Heavy weights are loads you can lift fewer than eight times with good form; they help you build strength.
This Body Building article gives a more in-depth answer to how much weight you should lift specific to your goals.
Lastly, I believe you should do a blend of all the goals. I enjoy a good strength workout. I know myself well enough to know that the best way for me to get this type of workout is with a class. I know I have a place to be at a certain time and I will show up. So, that is how I do most of my strength workouts. I also know that I can do more weight than the class allows me to do, so every now and then I’ll hop on the machines and do few reps at a heavy weight.
What is your favorite way to get in a good strength workout?
One other point: It takes work to get big, bulky muscles. For most people, doing muscle strengthening exercise is going to give you a toned appearance.