Strength Training 101: How much weight should I be lifting?

This is an article written by NF Team Member Staci.

How much do you think Hefty Smurf is lifting here? How much weight did he warm up with?  How does he know when to start lifting heavier?

When many Rebels first get into weight lifting, the process of figuring out what weight to start with can be daunting and even cause some to not bother starting at all.

We often hear questions like:

  • What weight should I start with? How much should I be lifting?
  • If my program wants me to be doing 5 sets of 5 at 80% of my 1 rep max, how do I figure out my 1 rep max?
  • And what if it doesn’t give any percentages at all?  How do I know what weights I should be doing?

Today we’re going to take a look at how exactly to get started with your program and make sure you have picked the right amount of weight.

Bodyweight First


Stop! Let’s back up a second.

Before ever trying to figure out how much weight you can lift, make sure you know how to do the movement, as flawless as possible, without any weight at all.


Because if you can’t do a movement correctly without weight, how can you expect to do it right WITH weight?  Think about it – if you can’t walk up a flight of stairs normally, would you expect to be able to walk up the flight of stairs carrying bags of groceries?  No – you would only hurt yourself.

So our first step is to learn each movement without any bars, dumbbells, or added weight.

“But!” you say, “how on earth do I do a deadlift or a press without any weight?  And I know I can do a bodyweight squat, but isn’t it completely different with a bar on your back?”

Easy – grab either a broomstick (be careful for splinters!), mop handle, or PVC pipe (I use a 1.25” PVC cut in half) and pretend it’s a bar.

If you’re trying to mimic a dumbbell movement, either grab a short dowel, PVC, or just hold your hands in a fist as if you were holding on to something.

While it’s not the exact same as holding actual weight, it will allow you to practice getting into the correct positions.

One great reason to start here is that you can do it in your own home, without other people around you (so you’ll be less nervous).  Also, you can video tape yourself pretty easily (I use my computer’s web cam, or my phone camera and a little tripod).

Here’s a video of me doing this back when I started lifting in 2011, when I was trying to figure out how to deadlift, to get an idea of what I’m talking about.  (Now, I’m the Nerd Fitness Deadlift Champion, from our recent virtual powerlifting meet that we hold every 4 months :))

If you are interested in nerding out about learning perfect form for each movement, we HIGHLY recommend you pick up Starting Strength, widely considered to be the Bible of Barbell Training.

Once you feel good about your form, you can see if you can “pass the bar.”  (guaranteed to be the nicest lawyer joke you’ll ever read on Nerd Fitness, by the way).

Now, the bar


Once you’re comfortable with each movement with a broomstick or PVC, then you can move to the bar.

Your first workout shouldn’t go any heavier than “just” the bar, which means the bar without any added weight.  As we know from strength training equipment, a standard barbell weighs 45 lbs (20.4 kg).  Now, don’t be discouraged if this seems really heavy – especially on upper body movements. When I started out, I could not bench press or overhead press an empty barbell.

If the bar seems too heavy to start, you have a few options:

  1. Look to see if the gym has a lighter barbell – some have a “women’s bar” or a “training bar” that usually weigh 30-35 lbs and 15 lbs, respectively.  These are usually shorter, but that’s okay (just make sure it’s a straight bar. The ez curl bar is not a good alternative).
  2. Start out with dumbbells – while the movement is not the exact same, it allows you to build up the strength to be able to correctly handle the bar.
  3. Focus on bodyweight training (pushups, pullups, lunges, squats) until you build the strength to handle the bar.

Now, on opposite ends of the spectrum, if the bar seems really light, I would STILL encourage you to complete your first workout with just the bar.  Focus on getting each rep correct, and worry about adding weight next time.  Check your ego at the door; I would rather see somebody in the gym lifting the bar with proper form than watch somebody with awful form lift 400 lbs.  I honestly cringe when I see that happen, which is far too often.

Note: If you finish your first workout with the bar and still aren’t comfortable with the movements, it’s never a bad thing to do your next workout with just the bar again.  If you’re not comfortable with the movement and you start adding weight, not only will you be more likely to injure yourself because your body isn’t ready, but you’ll be more likely to hurt yourself because you won’t be confident under the bar. Confidence is something that is very important as you start lifting heavier and heavier.

If you’re planning on using dumbbells as your main lift (and not a barbell), I’d start out with the 5-10 lb dumbbells to get a feel for things.

Starting to Add Weight

barbell 10 plate

If you’re looking to start on a beginner program, such as the workouts in The Nerd Fitness Academy or Starting Strength, the first step is to look at the instructed number of reps in each set.

A few common rep ranges for beginner programs are 5 sets of 5, 3 sets of 8, or 3 sets of 10. For this example, lets say your program has you doing 5 sets of 5 on a particular lift.

  • After a proper warm up routine, start with the empty bar again, and complete the prescribed number of reps (for this, it would be 5).

“But I thought you said we could add weight this time?” you might be thinking.

You can – but no matter how heavy you are going, always start with just the bar to warm up for EACH exercise.  If you watch the best lifters in your gym, you will notice they all warm up with “just the bar” to start, often for multiple sets! This helps get your body warm, primes your nervous systems and all of your muscles for that movement, and gets you ready to lift heavier weight.

As a beginner, this is especially important to ingrain proper technique.

  • Next, add some weight to the bar.  Depending on how heavy the bar felt, start by adding anywhere from 2.5lbs to 10lbs to each side.  Do another set of 5 reps at this weight.

(Note: If you’re doing dumbbell training, instead of adding weight to the bar, increase the weight of the dumbbell.  Start with 5lb dumbbells, then 10lbs dummbells, for example)

  • If you were able to complete those reps both without losing form and without the speed of the bar slowing, add more weight to the bar.  Base the amount of new weight off how it felt – if the last set felt really light, add 10’s, if it felt heavy, add 2.5′s or 5’s.
  • Continue to do this until your form starts to break down or the speed of the lift gets slower on any of your reps. The weight you used right before your form started to break down is your starting weight on which you will base all future workouts!

If it is a lower number than you expect, that would be the right number!  Don’t try to be a hero your first workout, it is better to start out too light than too heavy.  Remember – we’re trying to get solid, productive sets in, not find our max, so we want all of the reps to be fast and with as perfect form as our body allows.

And since during this process you’re testing out heavier weights for the first time, never be afraid to have a spotter, or to use pins to ensure your safety!

What about after the first few workouts?

mismatched barbell

Once you find your starting weight, you’ll want to start using something called “progressive overload.” This sounds a lot fancier than it really is.

Simply put, progressive overload means gradually increasing the stress put on your body during training.

In other words, we need to increase something, regularly. Usually this means the amount of weight we lift. And for beginners, that can often happen in every workout.  After every workout our body heals, and if you’re getting proper sleep and nutrition, it heals back stronger than it was before.

If you do 5 sets of 5 at 100 lbs every single workout for months, are you getting stronger?  Most likely not – your body is becoming more efficient at lifting 5×5 at 100 lbs, burning less calories and using less processes to make that movement happen.

So, how much weight do you add when you’re ready to increase your workouts?

That depends on how difficult was the sets last time. This is where great note-taking comes in (I’m a huge fan of a simple notebook, or Evernote docs on my phone). Be sure to document not only how much you lifted and for how many reps, but also how your lifts went so next time you know what you need to be doing.  Did you go to failure on your last set? Did your form break down on any of the reps?

If you failed to complete an of your reps or your form started to break down, it might not be a bad idea to do the same weight again, and focus boosting your form and technique of each rep.

Remember, if you are doing the same workout as last time, but each rep is more solid and with better form than before, you’re still doing better than you were last workout – you’re still leveling up. You don’t necessarily have to go up in weight every workout to see gains. Less rest between sets, more control and better form, and more repetitions all mean you are getting stronger.

If you were able to get through all of your sets with great form, and without the bar slowing down, consider adding more.  It’s not unheard of for beginners to add 10-20lbs a week to some lifts (especially squats and deadlifts), though don’t get discouraged if you’re only adding 2.5 or 5!

The BEST THING YOU CAN DO is to slowly add weight and progress consistently rather than progress very quickly then hit a plateau.  Each week, as you add a little bit of weight, you are building strength, confidence, and momentum.

(Note: For some lifts, especially the overhead press or bench press, adding just 5 lbs may be too much to go up per workout.  I personally have a set of 1.25lb plates that I bring with me to the gym so that I can still progress regularly.)

If you started out too light (like we recommend!) you can easily add more weight each workout as your body gets used to the movements and as you get better at lifting.

Remember that there will be days when you can’t add any weight.  So many things affect how your lifts are going to feel – from a baby crying all night, to lots of stress at the office, to drinking too much at the big game.  It’s important to listen to your body over listening to some number telling you what you should be lifting.

What about finding our 1 rep maxes? I want to know how much I can lift!

corey1rm2Our very own “Gainsdalf the Whey” at our recent Dallas meetup

It’s really fun to find the maximum amount of weight you can do for one repetition (one rep max) every once in a while.

However, as a beginner who is just starting out, it’s better that you start with getting the movement right and adding weight slowly before trying to find a one rep max.  I would suggest you follow a program for at least six weeks before even attempting “a heavy single”.


Even if your form is as good as you can get it now, you will get far better, learning how to make tweaks and corrections as you go.  When you first start out, you’re still getting everything down, so your one rep max won’t be a “true” one rep max.

Plus, when you train, you’re training everything in your body.  Some things, like muscles and bones, get stronger, while others, like your nervous system, get more efficient.  The more you do something, the better you get at it.  And in the beginning you’ll get better very quickly.

As a beginner, it just isn’t safe to attempt a 1 repetition maximum when you’re learning the movement. Even if you can do it with proper form with lighter weights, as soon as the weight gets close to your 1 rep max your form will start to break down, and you are more likely to hurt yourself.

When your form starts to break down, you need to have the experience behind you to finish (or bail out of) the lift safely.

If you watch any weightlifting or powerlifting competition, sometimes the lifts are not the prettiest lifts you’ve ever seen.  However, the lifters are experienced enough to handle this, and know how to bail if something goes wrong.  As a beginner, you are not.

So what is a respectable amount to be lifting?

farmer's walk

The simple answer?  The weight that’s right for you.  You are not competing against the guy next to you; you’re competing against the YOU from last week (like racing your ghost in Mario Kart).

As far as what you can strive for, there’s no easy calculation or formula.  While some people have put out strength standards, it’s truly up to your body, your body type, your background as an athlete, your genetics, and many other factors.

You should be lifting the amount that’s right for you today. In your next workout you should be trying to lift more (even if you can’t do more weight, try doing one more rep, or with less rest between sets) than you did last time.

That’s it.  As a part of this journey, I want you to completely forget about strength standards and forget about everyone around you.  I don’t care if the guy (or girl) next to you is squatting 500 lbs for sets of 10.  If you’re squatting 50 lbs, and that’s the weight that is challenging for you, then that’s the weight you should be lifting.

Never try to outlift the person next to you. Never adjust the weight to impress someone. No one’s judging you based on the weight on the bar, and if they are, they aren’t worth your time or energy.

To recap:

  • The strongest lifters I know warm up with “just” the bar.
  • The strongest lifters I know focus on getting their reps in, and aren’t ashamed that they’re lifting less than the guy next to them.
  • The strongest lifters I know take time to get things right, even if that means lifting less weight than they know they “can” do.
  • The strongest lifters I know started off doing a beginners program just like you.

So remember – start slow, add weight slowly, and stay conservative.

It’s amazing how much even adding just 5 lbs (2kg) a week adds up to!  It’s far better to play it safe in the beginning than to find yourself injured and frustrated before you have a chance to progress.

Any questions on how to pick your starting weight?

Let’s get these questions answered so you can get back to getting stronger!


PS - Be sure to check out the rest of Strength Training 101 series:


photo source: Bigm141414: GainsdalfJacobunny: Papa Smurf, Odalaigh: Farmer’s Walk, Koukouvaya: 10 Plate, Koukouvaya: Mismatched Barbell, moominmolly: stand on plate, Ben Freeman: Extended Platform

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  • Rachel Heath

    This was really helpful for me! I’ve got experience lifting lighter weights, but I’m new to lifting heavy. I have a lot to learn and a lot of bad habits to break! I keep telling myself there’s no shame in being a beginner… better to do it right than impress people! Thank you for the tips!

  • solarmist

    There are some guidelines that can help you figure out if you are on track too. ExRx Strength Standards. They start with your body weight and experience level and give you an idea what an average weight a person like you can expect to lift for a 1 rep max.

    These are just averages so you may be above or below these numbers for any given lift. For example I’m above for squat and deadlift, but below for bench.

  • staciardison

    Hey! Thanks for the comment :) We do include that link in the “how much weight should you be lifting” section, but I also want to emphasize that no matter what that site says, you may be completely different depending on your body and genetics, sleep schedule, nutrition, etc. :)

  • staciardison

    exactly – everyone starts somewhere, and I actually find it more impressive when people take it slow and get things right than trying to boost their ego and lift more :)!

  • solarmist

    Oh yeah, I missed the link. I agree to an extent. If you are an otherwise physically normal adult male or female there is a range of strength that is normal for your body weight (and even better correlation if you control for lean/fat mass) and experience, especially at the untrained/novice levels.

    It’s not an exact science by any means, but it does give you an idea of where your goals should be, just like Harris-Benedict equation or Dr. Hall’s equations for weight loss ( And you adjust from those baselines.

  • Mike

    Another reason to shy away from 1-rep max programs as a beginner is that you can progress in strength so quickly as a novice that it ceases to be good info for programming almost immediately. It will only slow you down.

  • Vanity Smurf

    Staci, that is Hefty, not Papa Smurf. *shakes head in dismay*

  • Adam Suhy

    Nice article

  • solarmist

    That’s a great point. 1RM (1 rep max) is only useful when progress is slow, usually once you’re intermediate or even later.

  • solarmist

    I agree for at least the first few weeks getting form down is FAR more important than the weights you lift. Once you have form down you’re weights (for an untrained person) will almost sky rocket week after week for the first couple months.

  • lexy

    great guidelines. I started lifting when I started crossfit, and really enjoy seeing my own progress. The competition about who can lift the heavier weight should definitely be with yourself-from-last-time. There are some great phone apps that let you keep track of your weights, too, if you want an easily sorted through log to bring to the gym with you.

  • staciardison

    Gah! Thanks, I’ve updated :) I’m going to call the “haven’t ever owned a TV” and haven’t seen the show card!

  • staciardison

    Absolutely. I think my deadlift went up 80lbs my second month lifting, just because my body was like “oh, I get it now” :)

  • staciardison

    Yup, good point. Why so many beginner strength programs don’t even go into percentages too, because you won’t know your true 1rm :)

  • staciardison

    Yeah but be careful with your phone on the gym floor! I’ve smashed mine by accident in the past, so now I use a plain old notebook and then log into my phone later :)

  • FaceAK

    GREAT article! My biggest cringe-inducing gym habit from other people are those who load the bar up only to do a half-squat. AAAARRRRGGG makes me want to smack them with a 2 1/2 lb plate while proclaiming, “You’re doing it wrong!”

    I’ve found that warming up with a light weight also allows me to finish with a heavier one. If I start with the heavy weight, I can’t do nearly as many reps/sets before my muscles start really screaming at me. Great tips for newbs and awesome reminders for those already lifting heavy.

  • George Titsworth

    Thanks for the post Staci! I would also recommend a few sessions with a trainer, a beginner lifting workshop if you can find one, or just ask the guy/girl that looks like he knows what he is doing in the gym for a few minutes of their time to really make sure your form is right. I spent about 3 months on my own doing barbells thinking I was doing good. I started crossfit and quickly realized my form was crap. I dropped the weight and focused on form and that helped me quite a bit.

    It doesn’t have to be for long, but I think having some sort of experienced person watch and guide you for a few sessions, the long term benefits would be huge.

    Personal opinion: I recommend taking a crossfit fundamentals course. Even if you don’t care start crossfit, my fundamentals course hit all of the major lifts in a beginner friendly environment for about half the cost of equivalent personal trainer sessions.

  • Matthew

    This is really super helpful. I was progressively overloading with squats (I’ve been lifting for about three or four months), adding a little weight every week, until I realized my form had gone really awful. My heels were starting to lift up a little and I had a ridiculous amount of forward lean. I’ve backed off and am now doing my “working sets” of 10 reps at 95 pounds, and usually at least eight of those 10 reps are solid.

  • Andrew Williams

    Gainsdalf, looking at that bar, it might be simpler just to lift the building…

  • Athena AndPerseus

    Great article Staci! The only thing I think you missed is something that only newbies experience – the incredible pain of DOMS (delayed onset muscle soreness) that can knock you out for 1-3 days for your first couple of weeks of workouts. It’s a big shock to the system, and people may worry that they lifted too much, or hurt themselves! Also, if you go too heavy in your first few workouts, it may feel fine at the time, but DOMS will be especially brutal.

  • Nick

    Great write up Staci! I also use Evernote! It’s great, use it to log: work outs, food, and sleep. And since i’ve started tracking food and sleep I am much more aware of how both greatly affect each work out. Can’t out train your fork or poor sleep habits!

  • Tim Donovan

    This articles has been perfect for my Deadlifting Woes thread in the forums! Cheer Spezzi! (and also Rook and the others!)

  • Slaughter

    What a great article! I’m going to start carrying a little notebook, instead of trying to put it into my cell (which is too cumbersome to be useful). I’m also going to revisit all of my weight-based exercises, adding 5-10lbs at a time to find my safe max.

  • Slaughter

    I love that these articles are so reassuring. I’m a big guy in a lot of ways: 6’5″, 300+ lbs (a number that is slowly but consistently dropping, btw). So when I go to the gym, there seemed to be an expectation of what I’d do. There was no cardio (treadmill, stationary bike, elliptical), it seemed like I was expected to be able to lift weight, and a lot of it.

    Thanks to Nerd Fitness, and to the guy that initially trained me (a fantastic MMA fighter), I realized that expectation was mostly self-imposed. I was trying to live up to some ideology that only existed in my head, or maybe from something in the media… but nothing that real people cared about. And I also realized people at the gym didn’t really care: the person watching me usually didn’t care if I was lifting 200 lbs or 2, they were actually more interested in either getting back to their routine or sometimes watching me to pick up clues.

    I am SOOOO thankful for the support I see here. Normal people trying to get fit in whatever way they can, learning from other normal people. Thanks to everyone that keeps the rebellion going!

  • Slaughter

    I was really impressed (shocked? awed?) when I saw one of the regular lifters, a very muscular fellow that frequently lifted insane numbers, go and lift just the bar. Sometimes it’s daunting to go into the gym and avoid trying to impress the others. At least it is for me. I didn’t realize I had such a big ego until I started going to the gym regularly!

  • CindyM

    Super informative thanks for demystifying progressive overload. I was wondering how long you rest between sets when you are doing 5 X 5

  • Mexican Food Junkie

    I’m loving all these strength training posts. Exactly what I need at this time in my life.

  • Ben Freeman

    Nice article and good choice of photos ;-)

  • Ben Freeman

    My coach has me rest 2 mins between sets when doing 5×5 squats.

  • staciardison

    yup, 2 minutes is usually a good rule of thumb :)

  • SFSpotless

    I’m with you on the crossfit! I did two months of crossfit this summer, and it was awesome. I got a lot stronger, and definitely learned a lot. When school got back in session I wasn’t able to keep up with it, time and money both being at a premium.

    I just recently made the time to go lift at the Y (I get a free membership through work) and the very first time I went, some random dude walked up to me and said “in all the time I’ve been coming here, you’re the only person I’ve seen with proper technique.” Crossfit FTW!

  • Brandon Gunby

    I enjoyed the section about competing against yourself and not the people around you. Being an athlete in high school I always felt like I should be competing against the people around me, which is a good thing to do in sports and during team competitions, but not in the weight room when you are trying to get stronger. I started out not being as big or as strong as my teammates and would often get discouraged in the weight room. The only way I felt like I should stay working out is because I had the support of my teammates. In everyday life, you’re not going to have those teammates there to support you and keep you from being discouraged, so it is very important to compete against yourself in the weight room and be better than the day before.

  • Kimberly Louise

    Hi, nice blog Really very interesting post shared above. Awaiting for more
    posts like this.

  • Benja

    really useful info its good to know that everyone starts from scratch, I started strength training from scratch 3 weeks ago stating bench press with just the bar and I’m now up to 10kg on each side hoping to be up to 15 by the end of this week but i’ll be happy with 12.5 (4 sets 7 reps) aim is to be able to lift 3 sets 10 reps 25 kg by April. i don’t mind going slow main problem I’m having is getting enough food In my system! also read ur success story on here that steve wrote, serious props!!

  • Logan Mathis

    Love the post. I am a big believer of body weight exercises and I am happy you mentioned being able to do that before lifting weight. A lot of people neglect bodyweight exercises thinking it may not be heavy or challenging enough. I beg to differ. slow down your tempo and you’re in for a treat lol.

  • Logan Mathis

    NO SHAME AT ALL. The way I look at it is, at least you’re doing something and trying to make a positive step forward. Life is all about becoming the best version of yourself and that is what you’re striving for. Great job and keep it up! It’s a fun and challenging journey. You will find out a lot about yourself quick.

  • BYC

    Great article. All very good points. I can’t stress enough how important good form is in weight lifting. It is well worth the initial time investment to make sure your form is perfect. It will prevent injuries, help you work the correct muscles harder, and will actually help you lift more. This becomes especially important when you get to higher weights or when you are doing olympic lifts. If you took two guys with the exact same strength level and all you did was teach one guy the correct power clean form, i’d bet he could clean 50% more than the other guy.

  • Pingback: Strength Training 101: How to Squat Properly | Nerd Fitness

  • Hair Care Tips

    I was scared of weight lifting for a long time. To be surrounded by heavy bar weights made me feel like I was in a injury prone zone. It sounds silly actually but I learned lifting weights could trim up my arms so I think I am now ready to start weight lifting. My goal is to condition my arms and when it’s in a fit form, I’ll just have to maintain it. I want to start on light dumb bells and then monitor the progress. I’ll increase the weight over time and see if it works and if it does then I’ll stop at that weight and just maintain it. I would like to hear what you think about it.

  • Eileen Pedersen

    Hey Staci,

    I’ve been doing crossfit for almost a year now, and although my front squat,deadlift, and back squat have gone up between 60 and 80lbs since I started; my strict press, snatch, overhead squat and push press I can’t get past the 35 to 55 lb range. What would you recommend for building up ones upper body strength to support more weight with those types of lifts?

  • Slaughter

    I used to have all kinds of silly thoughts about the gym. Like “only fit people work out,” or that there’s something magical about the free weights vs the machines.

    Then I realized that the fit people are only that way *because* they work out. There’s plenty of other people that aren’t fit, or are trying to get fit, in the gym.

    I’d suggest just doing what you feel comfortable with, and stick with it. Take 20 seconds of courage and just go do it. The bar weights won’t hurt you, just be careful and you’ll be fine. YOU CAN DO IT!

  • Heather934

    I found this really helpful. I’ve started lifting this year and previously only did body weight workouts in classes. I knew I had good form on body weight squats but when I was unable to take the classes anymore I started going to the gym. I’d heard all about how important squats were so jumped right in and started squatting about 40kg! (I say about, I was putting 15kg on the bar, but I’m not 100% sure how much the bar itself
    weighs, I should find out). Although I could squat that weight, something didn’t
    feel right but I couldn’t put my finger on it. I didn’t even think that it could be the weight. I just kept putting up with it. After reading this article however I thought it would be best to go back to basics. So when I stepped up to the squat rack this morning I took all the weights off and literally just started with the bar. I could tell that people were looking at me and were wondering what I was doing (it doesn’t help that there’s only one squat rack in my gym so there’s always people waiting to use it). Immediately I felt better about my form and felt much more comfortable. I was able to get much, much lower like
    I could with bodyweight squats. After a couple of warm-ups I decided to add
    weight but this time it was just 10kg weights. I found that this weight was
    much more manageable for me and that I could squat properly again. Hurray!! It
    seems so silly now that I didn’t realise that the weight I was doing was simply
    too heavy for me. I guess that’s just something I didn’t want to hear. But I
    feel much more confident now and I am finally doing them properly again. I was
    getting so low that the bar was only millimetres away from the safety brackets
    (they were as low as they could go and I’m kinda short). I agree with Staci’s
    comments; it doesn’t matter how much you can lift, it’s all about good form. Thank-you Staci!

  • clueless

    If you’re new to exercise/somewhat out of shape, BUT you do walks lots of stairs in a daily basis (in your house), should one still do squats till failure? I did yesterday and even though my legs aren’t wobbly anymore I wonder if walking stairs up and down over and over during the day doesn’t add already to over training. It’s a bit sore-ish.

  • clueless

    Perhaps I should even add that the steps of the stairs are somewhat exceptionally steeper/bigger, like 9 inches high, I guess that’s higher than most stairs steps I see around. AND my house is also over a steep hill…

  • Wendi

    Thank you! Thank you! I consulted a trainer and with the program I am started suggested do my max weight first to figure out the 60% weight I should be lifting. Prices are too much and after reading this, I feel I can now start my program sooner than later. This is awesome.

  • Arindam S. Roy

    Very helpful guide! Way to go :)

  • Pingback: Strength Training 101: The Deadlift | Nerd Fitness

  • AwkwardApartment

    Oh man, according to this my powerlifting class has been doing a lot wrong. Everyone had to find their max on squats, bench press, and deadlifts in the first week. Being a complete beginner with only my class mates (whom I don’t really trust now) telling me what to do, it was terrifying. That was about 6 weeks ago, and now I think I might have hurt myself on squats/deadlifts. In the last week or so I’ve noticed that when I set the bar back in the rack after squatting, once I bring my arms out, the muscles inside my shoulders and upper arms HURT. Deadlifting seems to be doing the same thing to me also and my back aches now after deadlifting yesterday. I feel like I’m gonna hurt myself every time. Any advice?

  • Slaughter (Dan Falconer)

    An extremely important part of weightlifting (of any kind) is form. My suggestion would be to work up to a higher weight. Don’t worry about what your “1RM” (one rep max) is, but figure out how to do the movements with proper form, and slowly work your way up in weights. When I’m weightlifting, I base my progress on how much weight I can add while still maintaining proper form: if I add 10 lbs but struggle with form, I drop weight until I can maintain form, even if that means no additional weight (or even dropping some, on rare occasions). I lost months of progress in a single session by not paying attention to form and injuring myself.

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