Weekly column by fitness expert Adam Wright for the Waterford News & Star, in association with Kingfisher Fitness Club
NOW that we’re got some news about indoor group exercise starting up again, let’s talk a little about a very common mistake made in group fitness workouts: not increasing load when appropriate and therefore not seeing much in the way of results.
If you leave a weight based workout feeling like you could have done more, maybe you should have. That doesn’t mean you need to go do another workout straight away though. Maybe you just need to look at the amount of weight you’re lifting?
‘Our bodies only change when they have to adapt to something new’
Here are some signs that you might need to put a little more weight on the bar:
You always use the same weight
Constant progress requires constant progression. That sounds funny but it’s true. You’re stronger now than when you started working out, ergo you should lift more weight. If you do, you’ll be stronger next month than you are this month, so you’ll lift more again then, and so on and so on.
You’re not seeing results
You might have seen results when you started, but now you’re not. Initially you didn’t need very much weight because just going to the class/workout was new to your body. But our bodies only change when they have to adapt to something new.
Your initial results were your body adapting to new workouts. Eventually your body reaches balance with those new workouts and you have to increase the pressure to see further results. You have to give it something new in order for it to adapt again.
This doesn’t mean that you have to jump straight to weights that seem really heavy right now (nor should you, that would be a good way to get injured, your body isn’t ready for them… yet) but do keep in mind that part of this whole weight lifting thing is getting stronger so if you do progress the weight your lifting, very slightly, as you get stronger, over a long period of time… eventually those weights that seem really heavy now will be what you need to actually get an effective workout and progress further.
You’re not challenged
If you breeze through a workout class (or even two) congratulations, you’re probably pretty fit… you also probably need to look at the amount of weight you’re lifting.
I don’t know about other class instructors but I don’t design my classes so you’ll be OK to do another one straight after (or so you can come into one of mine straight from another workout). If you are OK to go straight into another workout, increase the amount of weight you use next week, just by a little bit. Keep doing this week after week until you don’t feel like doing that second workout anymore… now you’re lifting closer to your potential and giving your body something to adapt to.
Effective training means reaching a certain level of fatigue. You don’t “win” at exercise classes. Walking out feeling like you could have done more doesn’t mean you “beat” the class, it just means you missed out on results you could have earned because you might be a bit too worried about maintaining your routine of two workouts instead of actually being challenged by one.
And don’t worry. Adding that little bit of weight in order to challenge yourself isn’t going to turn you into the incredible hulk. Most weight based workout classes are built around high numbers of reps helping you burn calories and manage body composition through small increases in muscle mass. Improving health and performance without drastically increasing mass.
Having said all of this; practicing and maintaining your technique when lifting should always be considered before adding load. If you can’t complete a movement with correct form, reduce the weight you’re using. And sometimes it isn’t even strength that prevents a movement being performed correctly. It could be balance, coordination or flexibility. All components of fitness that must be worked on. Health is not only about being strong.