If you've been working out for a while, you may notice you gravitate towards a certain weight for the majority of your workouts. Maybe it's the 20-pound dumbbells for bicep curls or the 60-pound barbell for squats. But, unless you're weight training and actively trying to lift heavier, you may choose the same weights again and again without as much as a second thought.
But if there's one thing we notice about ourselves in the gym, it's that we often choose weights much lighter than what we can actually lift. This is because we focus more on reps than trying to lift a heavier weight—what's the point of going 20 or even 30 pounds heavier if you're only going to be able to complete a single rep?
There's a case for lifting heavier weights, though, even if you can only complete that one rep.
First, it's good for us mentally to challenge the boxes we've created for ourselves. While we may think we can only lift a certain weight, it's important to try what seems impossible. Often, we can lift heavier, just like we can run faster or we can jump higher. As humans, we're capable of much more than we think. And when we surprise ourselves by reaching new goals, we enter a healthy mindset. It's not about whether or not we succeed; what matters is that we're training our brains to question set limitations.
Second, it's good to shock our bodies from time to time. We can too easily fall into routines while working out, completing the same exercises again and again, maintaining our pace, and staying within our comfort zone. But by lifting heavier, we wake our bodies up and encourage them to work just a little bit harder. For example, imagine doing squats with a 40-pound barbell for weeks to then double that weight. Sure, you may only be able to complete a single rep, but it's good for your body to experience a new challenge.
Of course, we have to be careful with weights, so it's always important to have someone spot you. Likewise, consult a doctor or personal trainer if you have any concerns or former injuries that may keep you from lifting weights at all. You know your body best, and it's essential to listen to its needs.
Just remember, we're capable of so much more than we think. Ultimately, it's not about the actual weight but about the mindset—may we not get stuck in pattern and routine for the sake of pattern and routine. Try something new, and something a bit harder. We bet you'll surprise yourself with just how strong you truly are.