When Is It Time to Move Up to a Heavier Set of Weights?

I’ve been asking myself this question over the past week or two. Since I work out at home instead of going to the gym, I try to be very mindful of what equipment I buy and when I buy it. My tiny apartment can only store so many items at once!

The last set of weights I bought also turned out to be a little too heavy for me at first. I ended up switching between them and my previous set of weights for a week or two depending on which part of my body I was using and how my form was looking.

It’s been my hope that I’ll be able to avoid this next time by spending extra time with my current equipment as I wait to grow slightly stronger.

There are a few different signs I look for when I’m deciding when to move up to a heavier set of weights versus when I should stick with my current set of weights and focus on adjusting my form for the time being.

Let’s go through them one by one.

Sign #1: My Workouts Are Getting too Easy These Days.

While there are still a couple of moves in my routine that I find a little challenging, most of them are fairly easy these days.

I’m not breaking a sweat as quickly as I was when I first moved up to this set of weights. I’m also not needing or wanting to take the breaks I sometimes incorporated into the workout the last time I did it with a heavier set of weights.

My endurance has definitely increased since then, so I would agree that my workouts have become too easy.

Sign #2: It’s Been a While Since I Felt Sore the Day After a Workout.

No, I don’t believe this is the only or the best indication of a good routine, but it can be one sign that you’re pushing your body enough to become stronger without risking injury.

This might sound odd, but I actually like the feeling you get the day after a tough, new workout. Even if your muscles aren’t necessarily suffering from DOMS (delayed onset muscle soreness), you can often feel them contracting and relaxing in ways that might not have felt so obvious last week or last month. Certain movements remind you that you need to use your arms, abs, or legs for them even if you’re not generally consciously aware of that fact.

If you do have DOMS, some of those movements are slightly uncomfortable or harder to perform than normal. If you’re not, you still often pay attention to your body in ways that are easy to miss on an ordinary day.

It has been a while since I felt this way after lifting weights. I hope my next adjustment is easier, but I’m also curious to see what will happen this time  when I move up to heavier weights. Does a body eventually get so used to lifting progressively heavier stuff that it no longer feels as sore when it’s asked to do something slightly harder than it was doing last week?

Sign #3: When I Finish a Routine, I Still Have Plenty of Energy Left Over

This is by far the biggest sign that I need to move up to a heavier set of weights. It’s one thing to have a little bit of strength left after a workout, but I’m at the point now where I’m not feeling all that challenged. I could easily do some more reps with the weights or add in more pushups if I’m doing bodyweight exercises that day.

Based on my answers to these three points, it definitely seems to be time to get some new equipment.

How about you? What other signs do you look for when you’re decide if it’s time to use heavier weights?

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