Ultimate Guide to Choosing the Right Resistance

question mark“But what about the weight?” <= Boys and girls, BRACE yourself.

I’m going to break down the #1 question I get on a weekly basis.

Perhaps this is worthy of printing out and looking over a cup of your favorite coffee.

Because here’s the truth – if you just “wing it”  with your weight selection, you’re not going to get anywhere close to your maximum results.

So, what I’ll do is break it down by category (for example, main workout, finisher, density training, etc.) PLUS, I’ll tell you how to progress on your resistance each week based on a 4-week program. Then we’ll end the fun with your Thursday Thriller Finisher.

Sound good? Awesome. Let’s do this…

Category # 1 – How to Choose a Weight for Your Main Program

This is simple. If your program calls for 8 reps, you choose a weight in which you can lift with perfect form for 9 reps.

You DO NOT need to train to failure.

If it’s a bodyweight exercise, you can cut back on the intensity to meet the reps OR you could even increase the intensity.

For example, if someone told me I had to bust out 40 Spiderman Pushups (20 per side), I would laugh, punch them in the face and then do 40 Decline Pushups.

Why? Because I know my form would be pathetic about halfway through that many Spiderman Pushups.

You can also do Spiderman Pushups and then drop down into regular Pushups, etc.

Category # 2 – How to Choose a Weight with Density Training

I’m starting to explain this more in my Density Training programs, but when choosing a weight for density training, you still want to challenge yourself but NOT burn yourself out well before it’s over.

A good rule of thumb?…

Choose a weight in which you can lift for about 3-5 reps MORE than what’s prescribed. For example, let’s take a look at this density circuit…

Do as many circuits as possible in 20 minutes, resting only when needed.

1A) DB Squat (8)
1B) DB Chest Press (8)
1C) DB Row (10/side)

 For the Squat and Chest Press, you would choose a weight that you can lift with perfect form for about 12 reps. For the DB Row, perhaps 15.

After training clients for years, this was the “sweet spot” so they can produce a lot of volume, be challenged, yet not get burned out.

Category # 3 – How to Choose a Weight with Finishers

This is a personal preference, but this is how I roll myself and with my clients (present and past)…

When doing a finisher, I like to use a faster lifting tempo. So choose a weight in which you can lift for around 5 reps or so MORE than what’s prescribed.

This allows you to increase the tempo (and many of my finishers are bodyweight anyway).

Category # 4 – How to Choose a Weight with a Complex

It’s a simple 3-step process:push press

  1. Choose your weakest exercise in the complex.
  2. Choose a weight in which you can lift for 4-6 reps MORE than what is prescribed for your weakest exercise.
  3. Use that weight for the complex (and try to not put the weight down).

Boom goes the weight selection dynamite…

… But wait, there’s more! <= Yep, I said it.

How to Progress Each Week (and Other Notes)

A) Select one to two exercises in your MAIN program to progress at. For example, let’s say last week you performed 8 reps of the DB Row with a 40-lb DB. This week, see if you can do 8 reps with a 45-lb DB.

When progressing – progress slowly. In other words, just because you drank a mystery energy drink called “Dynamite Power”, doesn’t mean you go from a 40-lb DB to a 100-lb DB.

Be smart.

It’s also why I recommend progressing at no more than one exercise at each workout. If you try to progress with every exercise, you’ll burn out quick.

B) Start your main workout conservatively. A new program means new rep schemes and exercise selection. That also means a new stimulus.  So, don’t be afraid to do two things when starting a new program:

#1 – Cut back on volume. If a program calls for 3 sets, perhaps just do two sets.

#2 – Cut back on intensity. This is especially true if it’s a rep scheme you haven’t done in a while or a new exercise. When in doubt, go a little lighter in resistance (or less reps when it comes to bodyweight moves and then next week, you can increase your volume/intensity.

So, there you go… this is the ultimate breakdown on how to choose the right weight based on your workout style to get the best results without the burnout.

Got a fitness buddy or workout partner? Help them out and share this with them.

Besides, this article has a picture of pancakes…


Mikey, Master CTT

Leave A Reply (No comments so far)

No comments yet