What Does Lifting “Heavy” Mean, Exactly?

I am THRILLED to see the words “lift heavy” in the media and on blogs and websites almost daily.

You know that you need to be strength training. And that means you need to be using weights that truly challenge you.

We now have tons of proven research that shows strength training is a powerful tool in the fight against

  • Obesity
  • Diabetes
  • Heart Disease
  • Stroke
  • Depression

Additionally, effective strength training turns your metabolism into a machine. Imagine being able to speed things up so that you can burn fat better. Imagine having more energy, fewer aches and pains, and feeling like a rock star more often. THAT is what strength training can do for you.

As you know, I am deeply passionate about helping women to feel strong on all levels – physically, mentally, spiritually and emotionally. And I know, without a shadow of doubt, that proper strength training will help you.

So, what is “proper” strength training?

It all comes down to lifting “heavy.” And that desperately needs clarification. Many of my clients misunderstand exactly what it means to lift “heavy.”

In today’s video below, I share with you some notes on how to “lift heavy” in an effective way that makes you strong, without unnecessary gains in size. I also give you some benchmarks for strength on five exercises. This will help you to know if your strength is up to speed and where you “should” be.

Click on the image below to determine if your strength is where it needs to be in order to capture all of the benefits of strength training.

PS! I reserve exclusive content for the Women’s Strength Nation email update. If you want to receive more info that isn’t shared here on the blog, use the sign up form at the top right of this page to enter your first name and email address. Then stay tuned every other week for insights on becoming stronger inside and out.

Women’s Strength Nation is committed to improving the ratio of women to men strength training around the world. You can Join the Movement by sharing your thoughts and questions below. Your thoughts and ideas may help another woman’s journey. Please join the conversation and leave a comment below!

And lastly,

Today’s #Strengthspo

“And when you become a diamond, you will see why life had to pressure you.”

Stay strong, friend.  

Want to hear even more on this topic? Be sure to check out my LIVE with Holly HERE!

10 replies
  1. Andi
    Andi says:

    Dear Holly,
    I’ve been wondering what you would say is the age range of the audience that you are aiming to reach?
    Thank you,

  2. Kheila
    Kheila says:

    that’s so good to know because sometimes I feel like I’m not lifting heavy because the weight is not that much. But really if I’m struggling on the last two then I am on the right path. thank you!

    • Some guy
      Some guy says:

      You can always struggle on the last two. The question is, are you doing sets of 8 or 40?

      Heavy typically means failing between 5-12.

      • Holly
        Holly says:

        Agreed! And, for the women in my community, I like to teach that as long as you are overloading your current strength ability, you will improve strength. Most often I suggest rep schemes around 10-15, with weight loads where the last two are really hard. Thanks so much for contributing to the conversation here!

  3. Lisa Alexander
    Lisa Alexander says:

    I’ve read the book. I’ve been doing upper body enough to see change in my arms, and I welcome the look. I want to keep going, and I want to see change as well as have more strength. HOWEVER,IF I reach a point in which I think I’m looking too muscular as a female how would I tone my muscles down?

  4. Carmen Moran
    Carmen Moran says:

    I have been wondering about this exactly, what is lifting heavy? You’ve answered this perfectly. And I appreciate the benchmarks too!

  5. Lesslee ANN Dolan
    Lesslee ANN Dolan says:

    Holly, can you explain what you mean by the first exercise, Barbell at 40 pounds, what type of barbell exercise? Thank you, Lesslee

  6. Brooke
    Brooke says:

    I read the book and began lifting in Sept 2017. I’ve been vey disciplined and consistent w/ workouts. I am an Easy Gainer and have packed on a ton of muscle. Although I love how strong I feel, I look too “thick” and bulky. How can I maintain the progress I’ve made in strength and endurance and slim down? I would prefer a leaner look.


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