If You Can Do More Than 8 Up the Weight!

woman holding a weight while exercising

When was the last time you lifted weights? Just like anything else, strength and your muscles have a “use it or lose it” policy. If you aren’t incorporating strength training into your fitness routine, now is the perfect time to start!

High-intensity interval training (HIIT) is a form of exercise that alternates short periods of intense anaerobic (without oxygen) exercise with brief recovery periods. Improvements in strength take place within a training zone of 5-9 repetitions. If you are unable to perform at least 8 repetitions of a specific movement (like a biceps curl), then lower the intensity (weight). If you can do more than 8 repetitions, increase the challenge for optimal outcomes.

You might do higher repetitions in an exercise class – and that’s ok! Combining HIIT into your existing exercise programs can result in the most success!

Example: You are doing a HIIT routine, and you are incorporating chair stands (standing up from a chair, from a seated position) to increase lower body strength.

Start seated in your chair, arms at your side, and stand up, completely straight.
If you can do this 10 times, advance to the next level.

Now cross your arms and try again – aim for 6-8 repetitions.
If you can do more than this, advance to the next level. 

Hold weights in your hands and try again – aim for 6-8 repetitions.
If/when this becomes easy, increase weight.

Muscles must experience stimuli higher than their current abilities to achieve improvements in muscle strength and function. Whatever level is challenging for and doable for 6-8 repetitions is your “sweet spot.”

But wait – How do we know if something is “too easy?” 
The Borg Rating of Perceived Exertion (PRE) is the preferred method to assess intensity. Also, a direct correlation between PRE and heart rate has been found with the use of this scale with exercise. It is often found that if you rate your PRE at an 11 (light) then their heart rate is likely around 110 bpm. While doing strength training in a HIIT routine, aim for a PRE of 12-17.

If you are unsure of where to get started, our therapy team at Kirby Pines can help you identify which strength training exercises and methods are best suited for you. For more information, please contact the Functional Pathways Therapy Team.

man exercising with weights