The art of weight selection is one area where a good coach can be really helpful, and I realise that many of you don’t have the luxury of having Muscle Russell as your training partner, who is great at calling weights, therefore I will do my best to help with this Blog.
With beginner lifters life is relatively easy, if you hit a set of 5 reps in good form then increase the weight by 2.5-5kg. I don’t want you to miss any reps so you might only get 3 reps on this next set but that’s OK, next time you might get 4, or even 5, it’s all good.
Do you overestimate how much weight to use?
Things become a little more complicated when the lifter becomes more experienced. For an intermediate lifter they might have some sessions where they’re aiming for sets of 3; when doing these sets I like the lifter to move up only if they’re 75% certain of success. A quick look at their journal will confirm how good or bad they are concerning this. Once again I don’t want any missed lifts at this stage.
The strange thing is that intermediate lifters often miss lifts, even those who come to Darkside. I think this is due to 2 main reasons. Firstly they get scared of the new weight, as soon as they feel this weight self preservation kicks in and it all goes wrong. Conversely, they can miss due to having a low work capacity. Advanced lifters will time their psyche to specific lifts whereas the intermediate lifter often gets too keyed up as the weight increases and has nothing left when they hit their top weight, so be conservative with weight selection if this is you.
Advanced lifters SHOULD know how to peak for their heaviest set, if you don’t then you’re probably not advanced yet. But this doesn’t mean that you’re great at selecting weights. If you’re at all like me then the Meathead in you can come out, and you go for another 10kg when you should probably leave it there. I TRY to follow a rule where I am only allowed to miss ONE max effort lift per 4 week cycle; more than that and I’m not allowed to miss any next cycle. By doing this I keep my inner Meathead at bay, but not totally downtrodden. You want him there when you need him, at a meet for example, or if you just really need to show off – OK, that last one was a joke:)