How to Lift More Than You Usually Can


It's easy to get comfortable when working out. You pick up your normal weights, do your workout and feel like you accomplished something. But doing the same thing over and over is not going to change your body, or help you lift more than usual. Instead, you need to progressively overload your muscles in a systematic way to get stronger and lift more weight. You may get sore, but you will definitely get stronger.

Things You'll Need

  • Resistance training equipment
  • Start your resistance training workout with large muscle groups, then smaller groups, after your warm-up. Small muscle groups often assist larger muscle groups in their movements. For example, train your back and chest before your biceps and triceps.

  • Add five to 10 pounds of resistance for larger upper body muscle groups such as back and chest. Examples include exercises such as rows, pulldowns or bench presses. For smaller muscle groups like shoulders, biceps and triceps add only 2.5 to five pounds at a time.

  • Add 10 to 15 pounds to large muscle group, lower body exercises such as squats, leg presses or lunges. Add five to 10 pounds for smaller, weaker muscle groups, or when isolating a muscle group. Examples include leg extensions, leg curls, calf raises or abduction exercises.

  • Perform split workouts rather than full-body workouts in order to train each muscle group harder. You could alternate upper and lower body, and perform each two times per week. Or you could do a three- or four-day split working just two or three muscle groups each workout. You can then also increase the number of exercises per muscle group, progressively overloading them to lift more weight.

  • Rest between workouts. Each muscle needs about 48 hours to rest and recover between workouts, according to the National Strength and Conditioning Association. As you heal from a workout you get stronger, and will be able to lift more weight.

Tips & Warnings

  • Slowly increase the weight you use, starting with the smallest amount to avoid overtraining.
  • Focus on adding just one or two lifts per workouts so as not to injure yourself.
  • Start with full-body workouts with just one exercise per muscle group if you are a beginner. Gradually progress to a split program.
  • Perform two to six sets of up to six repetitions per exercise to focus on strength improvements.
  • Stop any exercise if you feel pain, nausea or you are light-headed.
  • Get a doctor's clearance before beginning any exercise program.
  • Use a spotter as you increase weight to avoid injury.
  • Don't work a muscle, or increase resistance, if you are still sore from a previous workout.

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