How much weight you use depends on your level of lifting experience. If you are a rank beginner, and all exercises are completely new to you, the last thing you want to do is load up a barbell with a heavy weight.
Rank beginner. For the first several weeks it is important to get the feel for proper exercise form. Pick a weight that isn’t challenging, but that also doesn’t feel feather light.If you are not sure practice with just the bar. If the bar seems too light, add only 5 pounds at a time until you find a weight that is right for you.
Use this weight for a couple weeks while practicing form. Once you feel like you understand how to perform an exercise, move on to the beginner stage.
Here are some recommend weights to practice form with:
- Squat – Bar to 95 pounds.
- Bench Press – Bar to 65 pounds.
- Deadlift – 135 pounds.
- Seated Overhead Press – Bar.
- Barbell Rows – Bar to 65 pounds.
Deadlift may be the most difficult exercise to practice. If 135 pounds is too heavy, use 25 pound plates on both sides, and elevate them placing 45 pound plates on the gym floor. You don’t want the bar to start too low. This can be back for the lower back.
Beginner. Once you have the feel for an exercise, it’s time to start progressing in weight. Add the following to your lifts each week for the next 4 weeks:
- Squat – 10 pounds.
- Bench Press – 5 pounds.
- Deadlift – 10 pounds.
- Seated Overhead Press – 5 pounds.
- Barbell Rows – 5 pounds.
For exercises not in this list, add 5 pounds.
After 4 weeks, it’s time to start pushing yourself. Maximize every set by performing as many reps as possible, stopping when you feel like you might not be able to complete the next rep. Never train to failure.
You will want to have someone spot you for exercises where you might get pinned by the bar, such as squats and bench press.
When you can complete the maximum number of recommended reps per set, add weight the next time you perform this exercise. The weight might feel shaky. This is normal. Your stabilizer muscles are weak, but will get strong very soon.
Progression and Specific Workouts
More information on progression of weight is presented in the write-ups for each specific workout on Primal Lifter. If you are confused and have questions, feel free to leave a comment on the page for that workout. All comments are answered.
Remember, never let frustration pressure you into using more weight then you are ready for, especially during your first few months. Every lifter in the gym, no matter how big or strong, started exactly where you did.
They will respect you when they see you hitting the gym week in and week out, adding weight and progressing on each lift. Be patient and stick to the plan.
Adding too much weight too quickly can lead to injury.