14 Day Challenge – Day Eight

Welcome to Day Eight!

Have you done your reflection task from yesterday? I would recommend doing that and recommitting to any missed items so you cover them this week!

Today is the start of a new week, so make sure you’re ready to workout today if you’re doing a Monday/Wednesday/Friday schedule – if you’re not, you can switch to that this week (provided you had a rest day yesterday). I like splitting up training like that and separating the weekends as full days off.

If you need any feedback on your exercise form, or you’ve got any questions about the workouts, please feel free to lean on my support in the Discord Server.

Right, onto today…

How Much Weight Should You Use When You Lift?

Because this is a group challenge, and I can’t interview everyone and find out their training experience, lifting history and strength levels, I couldn’t give specific weights for the various exercises I’m suggesting you do.

What would be challenging, but doable, for one person, would be too heavy for another, for example.

What I do suggest you do is lift in a rep range.

That may be 8-10 reps, or 10-12 reps.

When you lift weight for sets of 8 or more reps, you can’t pick the heaviest weight you can possibly lift, because there’s no way you’re lifting that 8 times in one set.

It’s simple. The more reps you can do, the lighter that weight has to be.

How Challenging Should Each Set Be?

The idea is that you’ll be coming about 1 or 2 reps away from “failure” (the point at which your muscles fail and you cannot perform another rep).

You might have to experiment with weights to find out which weight gets you to around that point.

You may be lifting with “straight sets”. That means you’re using the same weight and same number of reps on every set.

This is fine, especially for beginners. Using the same weight and number of reps on every set means that each additional set you do after the first is more and more difficult as you become more fatigued. By default you perform an easier set, then a moderate set, then a more difficult set.

When lifting like this, aim for the last set to end about 1 or 2 reps away from failure.

What if I struggle to hit the prescribed reps on the first or second set?

If you struggled to complete the first set, you’re going to really struggle to complete the second one for the same number of reps with the same weight. It’s absolutely fine to reduce the weight for each set you do after the first.

I actually train like this all the time.

I’ll use a weight that gets me 1-2 reps from failure on my first set, rest, reduce the weight, then go 1-2 reps from failure again, then repeat again.

This means you’re always pushing each set closer to failure and always working at a higher intensity, rather than starting with easier sets that don’t come as close to failure.

Don’t Make the Same Mistakes As Me!

In my earlier gym days, I made several mistakes in this area.

My first major mistake was that I had an obsession with lifting (or attempting to lift) 1 rep maxes (the most weight you can lift, for one rep).

I thought this was how I would get stronger, but in reality it doesn’t work like this. Doing higher volume workouts is better for getting stronger.

1 rep max attempts are extremely taxing on the body, and will completely affect the rest of your workout, and possibly subsequent workouts too.

They also mean you’re flirting with failure a lot of the time. In fact, many times I DID fail, but got weights up anyway by using bad form – letting my joints and back take the punishment. But at least I got the weight up (idiot)!

I therefore got a lot of injuries, and had chronic injuries that never really went away.

Always working at such a high intensity (lifting the heaviest weights you possibly can) takes so much out of you in terms of recovery. Instead of getting stronger, I was giving my body a neurological beatdown and struggling to recover and get stronger. Instead, it seemed I was getting weaker!

I eventually saw the light, and these days I will rarely perform a lift for fewer than 8 repetitions.

Myth Busting

It’s worth mentioning here that there is absolutely NO truth in the following myth that gets spread around:

“Heavy weights lifted for low reps are for bulking up, and light weight for high reps are for fat loss”.

This is completely wrong, and the rep range you lift in doesn’t really make a difference for either goal. How many calories you’re eating (amongst other things) is what matters for bulking up, and fat loss is driven by a calorie deficit.

Your Action for Today

If you haven’t done already, I want you to push yourself a bit more with your next workout today or tomorrow.

You must lift heavier weights for more reps to keep making progress, and your training shouldn’t be easy.

I want you to make sure you come within 1-2 reps of failure on each exercise in your next workout.

Make sure you track what weights you’re using and how many reps you’re lifting them for. This is a very good habit to get into. Then you can refer back next time and know what you have to beat!

That’s all for today!