It’s important that you vary your workouts to help your body adapt and get stronger, says Ronai. Because of this, both he and Saladino recommend training with a focus on endurance at certain times and using heavier weights with a focus on strength and power at other times. It’s important to increase the weight you lift over time as it will help you avoid plateauing and continue to improve bone and muscle health, says De Leon. For this reason, once you are in great shape with your workout, keep challenging your muscles to get stronger by adding weight.
The American College of Sports Medicine often recommends adding weight using what is known as the “two for two” rule, says Ronai. If you can do three sets of 12 repetitions of an exercise and do two extra reps on your last set, try again on the next workout. If you can do two extra reps again on your last set, you should be able to add some extra weight the next time you do this exercise.
Another thing to consider is the amount of weight you can add. If you’re using adjustable dumbbells, the amount you can add varies – it can be 2.5 pounds, but it can also be 5 pounds. Adding 5 pounds can be a lot for certain exercises. So, if you need to do a few reps at a lower weight before adding, do this.
You can also run into an issue with adjustable dumbbells where there is no need to add weight once you use the full weight of your set. One way to add more weight is to use a resistance band to add extra resistance, says Ronai. But don’t just add the resistance band to the heaviest weight – it can be hard to quantify how the added resistance makes an exercise more difficult, he says.
Instead, use a little less weight than you would normally when first trying to add tape. Even with lighter weights, adding a band can be worth it, says Saladino, as it can force you to focus on correct form and challenge every movement in an exercise. You can also make an exercise more challenging without adding weight by shortening the rest time or doing the exercises very slowly, says De Leon.