Whether you are lifting weights to increase strength, size or endurance there is the ideal weight range you should be looking at in order to achieve the best gains. So how do you know if you are lifting too heavy?

Lifting too heavy is a common problem in weight lifting, especially for those just starting out. Focus on lifting the right amount of weight for you, to develop the gains you are looking for.

Are You Lifting Too Heavy?

The right amount of weight for you depends on your 1 rep max (the amount of weight you can lift with just 1 rep). Each individual athlete needs to lift at a certain amount of their max rep depending on whether their goal is strength, size or endurance.

Are You Lifting Too Heavy? - bench press

Training for Strength

If you are lifting weights to gain strength then you need to keep the weight high and the reps low. This is the aim if you want to be able to lift the most weight possible.

About 80% – 90% of your 1 rep max is a good percentage for power training and each set should contain only about 4 – 6 reps before you are too fatigued to continue. This is where it is good to lift heavy.

Rest times between sets should be longer than for other kinds of training, about 2-3 minutes.

Training for Size

Lifting for size, that is, with the aim of achieving hypertrophy of the muscle, requires less weight. Increasing size is the goal of most weight lifters who want to improve their physique and develop a larger, well-defined, muscular body.

In this case, keep the weight to about 70% – 80% of your 1 rep max and lift in sets of 8 – 12 reps. Rest times can be 60-90 seconds.

Training for Endurance

Endurance training requires the lowest weight of all, about 55%-65% of your 1 rep max weight.

This kind of training is for those who want to tone muscles, improve muscle capacity for running or other sports or to lose weight, not for those looking for increase size or strength.

These lifts should be over 12 reps, usually in the 15-20 rep range. Rest times are the shortest for endurance training, 30 – 45 seconds.

Are You Lifting Too Heavy? - overhead press

How to Tell if You Are Lifting Too Heavy

It is often easy to tell if you are lifting too heavy as your form will be compromised. For example, you should be able to go to parallel with your squats and you shouldn’t need to use helping muscles to achieve an isolation lift.

For example, if you have to use your shoulders to help you pull down on the tricep extension bar, the weight is too heavy.

You should also be able to perform your lifts in a slow and steady motion, without the help of momentum. Keep an eye on yourself in the mirror, and if you find your form is straining before your last rep, you should reduce the weight.

Do you enjoy super heavy weightlifting? Do you think you can sometimes lift too heavy? Let us know your thoughts in the comments.