Is That The Right Weight?
By: Coach J
If you’ve ever had me as your coach in class, you’ve probably heard me ask you, “is that the right weight?” Or maybe, “how does that feel?” These are questions I like to ask to gain a better understanding of what’s going on with YOU and to help maximize your session. Let me explain what I mean by these questions and what their intentions are.
“Is that the right weight?”
During most weight lifting sessions we want you to feel like you’re working at a 7-8 out of 10. That means we want it to be as challenging as possible without sacrificing mechanics or inducing pain.
As you approach a 9 or 10 on the same scale you would start to see form breaking down and potentially causing pain or unnecessary damage. On the flip side, if you’re below 7 on the scale, you may have perfect form but will not be providing enough resistance to cause any adaptation (strength gain / muscle growth).
One thing to keep in mind is that sometimes you won’t know if it’s the ‘right weight’ until after a couple sets or even the entire workout. That is why it helps to record your weights / workouts so you can better choose your weights in the future.
So, how do you know it’s the ‘right weight’? When I (or any coach) asks you that question during your session, think about the following:
Am I challenging myself? - If yes, stay there. It not, try heavier.
Do I have any pinching, burning, or abnormal pain while doing this? - If yes, tell your coach or lower the weight.
How is my form - if I went heavier would I still be able to do it properly? - If yes, try heavier. If not, stay there. If you don’t know, ask your coach.
“How does that feel?”
When I ask this question I often get a funny look 🤔 that implies, “uhhh, what do you mean, dude?” Which I completely understand. Some examples of answers that I’m looking for are:
Good, but I’m not sure I’m doing it right
Just the right amount of challenge
By asking this question and getting an answer like the ones above, it allows us to dive a little deeper to uncover possible ways to improve your movement or experience with the workout.
For example, you’re doing Deadlifts and I ask, “How does that feel?” You say, “it feels okay, but I’m not sure I’m doing it right.” I can reply by saying, “what specifically doesn’t feel right?” or, “what are you working on with the movement?” This type of discussion is what allows us to actually coach you rather than just give you encouragement or an ’atta-boy’.
You see, we are able to see movement faults while you’re training, but we can’t feel what you feel. There are often times where at first glance your movement looks good, but internally it doesn’t feel right - these are the times where you should speak up so we can offer help.
“What are you focusing on?”
This is another one I’ll ask so that I can better coach you. When you’re training, it’s best to focus on one thing at a time (especially when a movement is newer to you).
Often times I’ll ask, “what are you focusing on?” before I begin giving you things to correct. Imagine you’re doing Overhead Presses and focusing on keeping you belly tight and I say, “make sure you lock your arms out.” You’re immediately going to shift your focus from your belly to your arms.
But, if I came up to you between sets and ask, “what are you focusing on?” you could share that you’re working on keeping your belly tight. Now that I know that you have a focus I can hold off on giving you more to think about (unless you’re in danger of hurting yourself). I can also pay attention to your execution of your focus (engaging your abs) in order to help you improve it or give you recognition for a job well done.
Sometimes when I ask this, I’ll get a response like, “good form” or “mechanics.” While it’s reassuring to know that you’re focusing on ‘good form,’ it’s a very general thing that could be a bunch of stuff (belly tight, knees out, feet flat, back straight, etc). A good habit to form when lifting is to take a second prior to each set in order to pinpoint the ONE thing you’re going to focus on during your lift(s). If you’re not sure what to focus on, ask your coach and they’ll help you out!