Find a correct balance in a workout regime is key to your improvement.
Overexertion in the gym, and in particular the weight room, can lead to injury — the number one factor cited by people as a reason for cancelling memberships.
Some might say that any exercise is better than none and this is by-and-large a true maxim, but without correct form you could actually be doing yourself far more harm than good as noted by the American College of Sports Science.
As you develop a correct routine, your body will tell you what the correct weight is for you as well as the number of repetitions required.
The general rule for beginners is to find a weight in which you can do between 12 to 15 repetitions. A ‘rep’ has three parts; lengthening the muscle (or a lift), the pause (contraction) and shortening the muscle (returning to starting position). Develop a comfort with this routine before you add additional weight and additional sets.
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However, one often overlooked aspect of weight-lifting is that to get the most benefit, it isn’t the amount of reps that your do but rather working your muscle to the point of fatigue. If, for example, you are not feeling a distinct feeling of difficulty towards the end of your reps, it is time to up the weight.
Remember, fatigue is the signal that all of (or at least the majority of) the muscles groups you are using are being engaged.
Heavier weights with fewer reps will lead to fatigue quicker than lower weights and, while this might appear obvious to some it is one of the most common reasons as to why some people plateau in the gym.
One important thing to note, though, is that if you are training for strength less reps with heavier weights is the way to go. If you are training for muscle definition, lower weights with more reps is the way to go. And keep it SLOW! You should be feeling the pinch of muscle fatigue somewhere around the 8 to 12 rep mark.
And, final point, you must remember that this isn’t a race. Take your time between sets. The heavier the weight, the more rest. The lower, less rest is required.