I have been spending a lot of time talking about food lately, so today I thought I would refocus my attention on the exercise side of the equation.  Today I want to talk about changing up your weight routine intensity.

Women and Weightlifting
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image by Usodesita

Sometime I think there is a misconception that there is only one way to lift weights – that is, as much as you can for 8- 10 reps. This is simply not true. There are too many ways to change intensity and make our workout challenging than I can over in one short blog post, but I want to cover a few basic ideas and techniques.

First let’s talk weight and reps.  There are 3 basic ways to choose the number of reps you are going to perform in your routine; the range will help to determine the amount of weight you lift. (You should always choose a weight that is challenging to complete on the last rep, but still allows you maintain proper form.) The rep ranges are:

  • Low range reps (4-6):  This is for using heavier weights to help gain strength.
  • Middle range reps (8-10): This is the ideal range for muscle hypertrophy (muscle growth).
  • High range reps (12-15): This range is more about endurance and will generally require a lower amount of weight than the other two ranges.

To help keep your routine fresh and challenging for your muscles, do not stick to just one range. Let’s say you are generally doing 8-10 reps. Every so often change it up and do a workout with 15 reps and a slightly lower weight or go with a much heavier challenging weight and push out 4-6 reps.

Also, changing intensity is not always about adding weight. There are several other things you can do to make an exercise more challenging. Give one of these a try for your next workout.

  • If you have only been using machines, try switching to a free weight version. For example, if you have been doing the chest press machine, try a dumbbell bench press instead.
  • Add resistance bands to a dumbbell exercise, like the shoulder press, to keep a constant tension and increase the challenge of the movement.
  • Get off the bench and onto a stability ball. The unsteady surface engages additional core and stabilizer muscles.  Try doing your dumbbell chest flyes that way.
  • Superset with a plyometric move. For example, after completing your squats, add a set a of jump squats.

Remember it is not always about how much weight you can lift, just how interesting and challenging you can make your workout. Let me know what your favorite intensity changer is!

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