Choosing the Right Weight

Choosing the Right Weight

Unfortunately this question does not come with an easy answer. Different fitness goals (increased muscular strength, muscle size (hypertrophy) or muscular endurance for example) all require different answers to this question. With an exercise focused on strength, you should use a weight they are only able to lift 2-4 times before muscular fatigue. For hypertrophy, use a weight that you can perform the exercise 8-12 times before muscle fatigue. For muscular endurance pick a weight you can do 15+ repetitions. My Viva workouts are designed with all three of these fitness goals in mind to varying degrees, so choosing the right weight can be tricky.


For My Viva workouts we have to think of a weight that will be challenging enough to use for lower and upper body exercises, and be realistic to use for the duration of different My Viva exercises without complete muscle fatigue. My Viva workouts are based on timed intervals. With this in mind, it is important to choose a weight that you will be able to perform the exercise continuously throughout the given interval.


When first choosing weight instead of picking the heaviest one possible, a useful strategy is to slightly underestimate your abilities. Underestimating is by far the best way to begin choosing weights as it can reduce the risk of injury that can result from trying to lift too heavy a weight. Start light and go up from there, you can always change weights when you need. Lifting too heavy almost always strains a muscle, and depending on the exercise it can also be damaging to the joints. So, don’t worry about your ego because weight choice is solely dependent on the person who is using it!


Take Injuries into Account

Take into account any pre-existing injuries when choosing a weight. Let’s say you have a torn labrum in your shoulder. It’s recovering and ready for exercise but you would usually use a 15 lb. dumbbell uninjured. In this case scaling down the weight to 10-12 lbs. is an excellent choice. The best thing about choosing your own weight is that you can put it down and pick up something heavier or lighter at any time! Practice guessing and checking with different weights, noting how your body feels with different weight and different exercises. This is the easiest way to keep you thinking about your muscles and what they are capable of.


As mentioned earlier, weight used for upper body workouts is generally significantly smaller than weight used for lower body workouts. Generally you should choose a heavier weight for lower body exercises and relatively lighter weights for upper body workouts, so changing weight from exercise to exercise (and even during the exercise if you feel the weight is too light or too heavy) is encouraged.


So, to choose the right weight:

  1. Underestimate in the beginning to prevent injury.
  2. Guess and check. Listen to your body; if it’s painfully heavy it’s too much, if you’re not breaking a sweat and could go forever it’s probably too light!
  3. Don’t be afraid to change weight during the exercise interval.
  4. Note previous injuries and lighten up for exercises involving these parts.
  5. Choose a heavier weight for lower body exercises compared to upper body exercises.


General Weight Ranges

  • Women upper body single arm exercises: 7-12 lbs.
  • Men upper body single arm exercises: 10-15 lbs.
  • Women lower body exercises: 10-15 lbs.
  • Men lower body exercises: 15-20 lbs.