How to Lift Heavier By Changing Your Mindset — in Just One Workout

It’s Fit Bottomed Hack Week! And in honor, each FBG is sharing her fave health hack! Get all the fitness hacks here

Hack, hack, hack. Now that it’s Fit Bottomed Hack Week, it seems like everywhere I go I’m constantly brainstorming fun hacks or someone gives me a tip and I’m all, hey, that’s a really good hack! I’m a little obsessed, I guess. (Plus, hack is a really fun word to say, no? Hack!) So when we FBGs were tasked with coming up with one hack to share, I was like where do I start? There are so many good tips and tricks to choose from!

And then I remembered this post I wrote last year about a unique workout I did called Light-Medium-Heavy. And I was like, boom! Yep. That’s my fitness hack.

I’ve done a lot of really great workouts, but whenever I get in a rut or stop seeing progress at the gym, this is THE workout that almost always busts me out of it. It’s also the workout I recommend to people who want to know how to lift heavier but can’t seem to break through the mental barrier of choosing a heavier weight (sometimes the heavier ones seem scary and it can be intimidating!) or simply don’t know where to begin to get stronger.

How to Lift Heavier: The Workout That’ll Change Your Mindset

Now, in the Light-Medium-Heavy workout I shared, I used kettlebells and did wall-ball, but the beauty is that you can apply the concept to any strength-training exercise. Heck, you can even apply it to body-weight exercises. Here’s how it works …

how-to-lift-heavier

The brilliance (all credit due to Sheryl at The Fit Pit who introduced me to this!) of this workout is that you kind of warm-up to the move with the light-weight reps (getting the move down, and it feels easy and good), then you hit your sweet spot with your medium-weight for 10 reps (this should be the weight or level that you typically do this move at that’s challenging but doable), and then you ramp things up with a really heavy or hard version of the move — but it’s only for five reps, which mentally and physically is very doable.

Here are a few of examples of the workout in action — note that the weights and levels listed are only examples. Scale to your needs and abilities!

Push-Ups*

  • Go Light: Wall push-ups, 20 reps
  • Go Medium: Modified push-ups from your knees, 10 reps
  • Go Hard: Push-ups on your toes, 5 reps

Squats

  • Go Light: Squats holding 5-pound dumbbells, 20 reps
  • Go Medium: Squats holding 10-pound dumbbells, 10 reps
  • Go Hard: Squats holding 15-pound dumbbells, 5 reps

Ball Slams

  • Go Light: Ball slam with a 15-pound ball, 20 reps
  • Go Medium: Ball slam with a 20-pound ball, 10 reps
  • Go Hard: Ball slam with a 25-pound ball, 5 reps

Box Jumps

  • Go Light: Step-ups on a 12-inch box, 20 reps
  • Go Medium: Box jumps on a 12-inch box, 10 reps
  • Go Hard: Box jumps on an 18-inch box, 5 reps

*This one is Erin’s fave for these reasons!

What inevitably happens when you go through this progression four times is that your perception of what’s hard begins to change. The light reps feel ridiculously easy and you fly through them (building confidence!), the medium reps are tough but you get through them because compared to the final five heavy reps, they feel really good (more confidence!). And after doing the five heavy reps for four rounds, you realize you’ve done 20 reps of a weight or intensity that you didn’t know you could do (BIG confidence booster!).

It totally jacks with your mind for the better. The next time you go to pick up your usual “medium” weight, it feels lighter — and it makes moving up to the next level easier because you know you can do it (and have already!). Over time, you can really move up in weights this way — just inching up and up and up each time you do this Light-Medium-Heavy workout concept.

So, yeah, that’s my fitness hack on how to lift heavier and bust out of your comfort zone! What move will you try it with? —Jenn

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5 Comments

  1. I love lifting heavy, it’s such a good way to break up the monotony of training. I love ball slams and so do my clients- perfect way to bust some frustration!

  2. Love this idea! I’m guilty of the “I’m intimidated of this heavy bar” mentality. Thanks for sharing! I think I’ll give this a go with strict presses!

  3. This is fantastic. So many people are fearful of going just a bit outside their comfort zone. We are told to lift ‘heavier’ to give our muscles the challenge they need, but we are never told HOW. Thank you for telling us HOW!

  4. Thank you SO much for this article!! I have done this workout twice so far this week….night one I made it through once (still learning where everything is in the gym I joined), and last night I made it through three times! I’ll get all 4 times done this weekend! I would love to find more workouts like this! Are there any others posted somewhere?