How Your Weight Selection Could Be Holding You Back

Written by Dave Thomas

I am always very careful in how I phrase this because the last thing I want you to do is hear what I’m not saying. The last thing I want you to takeaway from this article is to go into the gym today and load up a ton of weight and move like a sloth with horrible technique. But, the average person needs to go heavier in every workout if they want to get the results that most people want to get.

Let me say that one more time since I know you’re probably skimming this.

The average person needs to go heavier in every workout if they want to get the results that most people want to get. 

But..when I say heavier it’s probably not what you think it is.

Let me write you a quick example of how just five pounds heavier in a workout has significant benefit. Let’s take the following first portion of a “25+” conditioning format.

For 25′
5 Bench Press @ 95#
10 RKB Swing @ 44#
6 Loaded Power Jumps @ 35#
100m Run

Let’s assume that you complete 7 rounds of this workout. Using basic math, we multiply the reps per movement x the total volume of the workout – so for example, in the bench press we would take 5 reps x 7 rounds = 35 total reps. Now, to calculate tonnage we multiply 35 reps x 95# for a total of 3,325# (exactly how we score our 5′ Density tests and voila, you learn exactly why we do that).

If we apply that calculation to the rest of the workout we get total workout tonnage of:

For 25′
Bench Press – 3,325#
RKB Swing – 3,080#
Loaded Power Jumps – 1,470#
Total = 7,875#

We know that through the science of adaptation that positive stress (called eustress) is a stimulus that is needed for our bodies and performance to change. That’s fact and it isn’t subject to debate.

We also know that resistance in a workout is arguably the single greatest variable in manipulating that stress (it is not the only variable), so it stands to reason that that if we can apply more stress while still keeping our safety, technique and volume, then we will get more benefit. I think you would also agree that five pounds qualifies as “while keeping our safety and technique.”

So, if we bump every movement up five pounds we are now leveling up to the following tonnage total.

Bench Press – 3,500#
RKB Swing – 3,430#
Loaded Power Jumps – 1,680#
Total = 8,610#

You would have moved 735 more pounds in this workout and likely, not even really felt that much of a difference. At five pounds, you’re likely able to still maintain your total volume of 7 rounds, your positional endurance would not falter, and your overall outcome compounded over the course of a week, a month, a year is so significant that we’re talking over 100,000# of additional weight moved.

I know that you might be wondering: “But what if I am unable to perform the 7 rounds I could have with lighter weight?” Even if you were to temporarily take a step back in your overall volume because you were building strength endurance for future application, then it is perfectly acceptable. There are important adaptations like motor recruitment, lactate clearance, and cardiovascular benefits that will develop your ability to be able to get back to those “7 rounds” at a heavier future resistance. So if it makes it easier to grasp, think of the basic “1 step back, 2 steps forward” metaphor.

This principle of going up five pounds applied to the following timelines at three classes per week:

  1. 1 Week = 2,205 more pounds lifted
  2. 1 Month = 8,820 more pounds lifted
  3. 1 Year = 105,840 more pounds lifted

That’s how you make progress, folks. Forget making insane increases in your technique that you probably aren’t qualified to make, and cranking out shitty technique.

Let the power of small, manageable progress enjoy the magic of compounding interest.