How To Find Out What Weight You Should Be Lifting

The weight we should be lifting in our workouts depends largely on our overall goals.  If we don’t sit down and think about our goals, we can often sabotage our efforts.  

The general rule of thumb is the following:

  • For strength you should be able to lift the weight for 1-5 reps.  
  • For hypertrophy (muscle growth) you should be aiming for 6-12 reps with the weight.  
  • If you are looking to build endurance, you should select a weight you can lift for 12+ reps.  

If you aren’t sure which to aim for, you aren’t the only one, so let’s look at each goal in a little more detail.


Muscle strength is the ability to exert a maximal force for a limited amount of time. If you are moving pieces of furniture this is where your strength will come in. 

The general idea is to spend at least 2 days per week where you focus on muscle strength, simply because you will use it in many areas of your life.  

If you are training strength, build in around 2-5 minutes rest between sets. 


It’s easy to think that if you’re not a bodybuilder then you don’t want to “build muscle,” but with muscle growth, comes increased muscle strength and capacity.  It’s also not as easy to build muscle as we think – ask anyone who has tried!  Lifting weights doesn’t suddenly leave you looking like the hulk.  

Increased muscle density and strength can lead to a reduced risk of injuries, and as muscle burns through a colossal amount of calories, building muscle can support a healthy weight too.

If you are planning hypertrophy sessions, remember to include 30-60 seconds rest between sets.  


Strength endurance training means training with a high number of repetitions at low weights. 

Strength endurance training therefore does not train with maximum strength, but with an intensity of about 50 percent of maximum performance.

Training muscular endurance is thought to have the following benefits:

  • Maintain posture and stability for longer periods of time, 
  • Improving aerobic capacity of muscles, 
  • Improved capacity to carry out day to day activities, 
  • Increased transference of athletic capacity, 

In endurance training, plan 30-60 second rests between sets. 

All types of training complement each other – so it’s best to include all three if possible.

Check out some of our weight programmes to get started:

Introduction To Weights (£4.99 p/m)

To find out what weight you can lift for each type of training, you simply have to start.  Pick up a weight and see how many repetitions you can safely perform, without losing your form or stability.  

The weight will change depending on the exercise you are doing, so you will need to test them all.   

Keep a note and then after a period of training, re-test to see if you have made progress.