Weight Training Intensity: What Level is Right for You?

Weight Training Intensity: What Level is Right for You?

Matching the intensity of your weight training to your goals can be tricky.

What intensity should I aim for?

Intensity not only refers to the weights in question but also the number of reps you do per set.

In short, if you are trying to increase strength, opt for low reps (around 1 to 8 reps per set) and a high weight.

For muscle endurance, high reps (12 to 20 reps per set) of a light weight are the best option.

If you want to improve your physique in general and improve muscle tone, you should aim for somewhere in the middle with moderate reps (around 5 to 12 reps per set) and weight.

How much weight is considered ‘high’?

Knowing your body’s own strengths and limits is essential in weight training. Once you have determined how many reps you’re going to do you need to decide on the right weight.

Even for the highest intensity exercise it is recommended you start a little lower than your maximum personal best lift, so you can rep out those 1+ reps. For moderate and low weights, you can subtract 10 to 15% each time.

You may also consider training to failure, pushing your body until it is impossible to lift any further. Training to failure is usually an indication that you are working at an extremely high intensity. It means you are working hard towards your next personal best but it can be extremely stressful and taxing for the body.

It is not recommended you train to failure every session and many experts recommend stopping 1 to 2 reps before failure.

Your personal fitness goals will determine the intensity of your training. You can change it up as your goals change and you reach new personal bests.


The Author

Jessica Ambrose

Jessica is a fitness writer who loves long distance running, yoga, strength training and healthy eating.


Matthew C.
26 October 2016

Matthew C.

I always train to failure too. interesting they say it's not recommended.

Mike D.
24 October 2016

Mike D.

That's interesting about not training to failure each time. I thought this was what you had to do! I am very fit and strong and would worry about losing my muscle mass if I didn't train to failure with most lifts.

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