Knowing The Right Weights


Muhammad Ali

You have probably heard it all before. This amount of reps multiplied by that number of sets will give you ‘X’ result…

How do we really know what weights and reps are right for us as individuals?

As Muhammad Ali famously once said ”I don’t count my sit-ups, I only start counting when it starts hurting because they’re the only ones that count”.

I think Ali understood that when the pain came, that’s when he knew he was getting results. We call this the progressive overload principle. In other words, if you do more reps today than you did the last day, you will then start to see results.

This is the same for changing the amount of weight you lift. For example, if you only lift 12kg doing bicep curls for your entire program, you are ‘teaching’ your body that 12kg is enough weight. You will see no more change in the body.


The reason we get stronger/faster/fitter is because we have ‘told’ our bodies that it needs to do more than it did the last time you trained. (The correct stimulus)

Any good program will be balanced and constantly challenge your body. Despite what people think, you cannot ‘trick’ your body into anything. You simply teach it different things until it ‘remembers’ the sequence through constant repetition of those movements.

Repetition of exercises is not necessarily a bad thing. Enough repetion of any movement or series of movements will make you more proficient at those movements. (Myelinating the sheath).

Doing too many exercises per day may dilute your body’s ability to become better at the activity you want. It may however make you pretty good at most things but not amazing at one thing. So doing less exercises but repeating them more often will increase your proficiency at that particular exercise.

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A good way to know how effective a workout has been is to use the 1-10 scale. 1= a very low perceived intensity where as 10=  is a very high perceived intensity. Ask yourself what number are you feeling at the end of each set.

Here is an example of how you may feel during a strength session: (Using a 3X12 program).

Your first set should be manageable and relatively ok to complete. During your second set, you should find the last 3 exercises difficult to complete. For your last set the last 4 or 5 exercises should be very difficult to complete.


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