Are You Lifting Heavy Enough?

Hope you had a great Xmas

Got a spicy one today…

A recent study titled “Are Trainees Lifting Heavy Enough?

Self-Selected Loads in Resistance Exercise: A Scoping Review and Exploratory Meta-analysis” aimed to investigate whether people select appropriate weights for their resistance training exercises.

Let’s dig into the study, its findings, and the implications for fitness people and gym goers alike.

Study Overview

The study in question is a “scoping review and exploratory meta-analysis.” In other words, it’s a comprehensive overview of the existing literature on a particular topic. In this case, the researchers aimed to assess the self-selected loads people choose during resistance training exercises and whether they are heavy enough to produce the desired results. The study examined 25 articles, including 1,130 participants, and analyzed the data to identify trends and patterns.

Key Findings

1) Suboptimal Load Selection: The primary finding of the study was that, on average, trainees tend to select suboptimal loads for resistance training exercises. This means that the weights they are choosing to lift are not heavy enough to maximize strength and muscle gains.

2) Gender Differences: The study also found that there were gender differences in load selection. Men were more likely to choose heavier weights for their exercises, while women tended to select lighter weights. However, both genders were generally not selecting loads heavy enough for optimal results.

3) Experience Level: Interestingly, the researchers found that the trainees’ experience level did not significantly impact their load selection. I thought this was particularly surprising! Both novice and experienced lifters were found to choose suboptimal loads for their exercises.

4) Exercise Type: The type of resistance exercise also influenced load selection. Participants were more likely to choose heavier loads for compound exercises, like squats and bench presses, than for isolation exercises, such as bicep curls and lateral raises.


This study highlights the importance of choosing an appropriate load for your resistance training exercises. Lifting weights that are too light will not provide the necessary stimulus for your muscles to grow (in a good non bulky way promise) and become stronger.

To maximize your gainz, you need to challenge your muscles with heavier weights.

Don’t be afraid to progressively increase the weight you’re lifting over time.

Obviously this is relative. We don’t want to push the weight until our form breaks down (more below). But for instance, at DM Elite, one of our favorite moves is to periodically ask members to work to “failure” and see how many repetitions they can do with a given weight. Although said member may find 10 reps to be relatively hard, it’s not uncommon for us to discover the member-in-question can do 20-30 reps with the same weight. This suggests we’re not lifting heavy enough to provide an adequate stimulus! Granted, how you ‘feel’ on the day will have a big impact.

Also of note: since experience level doesn’t seem to impact load selection, it is essential to continuously assess your progress and adjust your weights accordingly. Even if you’re a veteran of the gym. We get used to what we get used and it’s easy to fall into that trap. Test yourself when you feel it at times.

Having said all that, my final ramble to this chat is offering a sprinkle of nuance: we don’t want form to fall apart while we chase heavier weight at all costs.

It’s hard to give advice on this stuff without seeing you in person, because wires can get crossed.

1) If you’re confident you’re lifting as much weight as you can? You’re probably going to light and should at least try to max effort at times.

2) If you’re inspired to lift even heavier than ever and excited about the opportunity? You may be going too heavy. Have a coach take a look at your form and make sure your technique is on point.

If strength training is NOT something you’re confident on and/or you know it’s Something you should do but will not do on your own, then let us help you in 2024 ????

As I said previously…Nothing to offer as yet but keep your eyes peeled later January/early February where we will be offering up some spaces at our Gyms.

Dan ????

About the Author lisa

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