“I want to make fitness simple and attainable for busy women”

-Allison Lambert

The Fit Tutor

When Should I Increase the Weight I’m Lifting?

If you have ever wondered when you should increase how much weight you lift, then you’ve come to the right place. This post is tailored to women performing dumbbell workouts at home, so bodybuilders, I’m sorry but I’ve got nothing for ya! This article should help you know when to increase and by how much, as well as help you pick out your first pair of dumbbells!

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Will I Get Bulky If I Increase The Weight I am Lifting?

First of all, you don’t have the chemical make up to get big and bulky if you lift heavier weights, so don’t worry about that. For most women, lifting weights creates muscle tone and increases metabolism… which are both AWESOME.

If You Say “Yes” to Any of the Following, You Should Consider an Increase:

  • If you can do 15 reps* of an exercise (in good form) with your current dumbbells without any strain or trouble on the last few, then it’s time to increase.
  • If you have been working out for several months consistently and haven’t increased weight, then it’s time to!  It’s OK if you are doing 15 reps with a certain weight and have to drop down to 5 or 8 reps with a heavier weight. That’s GREAT, actually. You will get to work back up to 15 with the new weight.
  • If you feel like you’ve hit a plateau with your weight loss or body composition, it might be time to get a new pair of dumbbells.

Why is it Important to Increase Weight Lifting?

To get the coveted metabolism boost, strength gains, and awesome toned look that come from lifting, you have to continually challenge your muscles. If you are lifting weights that are too light, you may be missing out on one or all of these! You’re still burning calories, but your body becomes more efficient at exercising with that weight, so it’s not burning as many as when you first started. Strength comes from muscle breakdown, and muscle breakdown comes from overload and strain placed on your muscles. Increasing weight increases our strength, and the more muscle we have the higher our metabolism! [Don’t forget that your muscles get stronger while repairing after the breakdown, so drink your protein!]

How Do You Know How Much to Increase?

It depends on you, how easy the weight is, and what your strength goals are. Dumbbells are usually $1-2 per pound, so keep that in mind, too. If you are currently lifting 5lb dumbbells, it may be good to get a pair of 8lb or 10lb dumbbells. If you have 10lbs, increasing to 12lbs is good. You can technically buy a pair of dumbbells for any weight you want, but I usually go up anywhere from 2 to 3 or 5 lbs. The heavier you go, the harder it is to increase, so that’s when I would definitely recommend going up in small increments! For example, the difference between 10lb and 15lb dumbbells seems enormous if you’ve not lifted that much before, and it can take awhile for your body to adjust.

Reps in lifting
The basics. It gets a lot more complicated, but we’ll keep it simple. And Hypertrophy is when your muscles appear bigger/swollen. The “pump” people talk about. :)

The most common rep ranges are 8, 10-12, and 15. If you try heavier dumbbells, you may start with 8 reps until you feel strong enough to do more and still keep good form. You might not be able to start with 8 and that’s OK. Do what you can. You can keep that in mind with The Fit Tutor workouts: I have designed most of the reps and sets for you, but if you increase weight you can decrease your reps in the workout. -OR- I like to do one set or some of my reps with heavier weights, and when I can’t do any more (or break good form) I’ll drop down in weight to finish the workout.

Pace Yourself

You will not be able to increase at the same rate with each exercise. You should be able to lift more weight with your legs than your biceps, for example, so if you increase the weight you hold while you squat, it doesn’t mean you will increase how much you curl. Increase each exercise at your own pace (and taking into consideration the cost of dumbbells and how many you want to own!).

The Fit Tutor Can Help

You’re amazing. Keep pressing on and you’ll see results. If you want effective online workouts and your own virtual personal trainer, check out The Fit Tutor! I offer several online workout programs, nutrition coaching, and accountability! Don’t go it alone. Reach out to me if you’d like some help or encouragement in this journey!

Hopefully this answers some of the questions you may have! If you have any others, please email me or ask them in the comments! If you are just starting out and this seems overwhelming, just save this article for later and come back to it when you think you might want to increase the weight you’re lifting!

Your Cheat Sheet:

  • Increase in small increments, like 2, 3, or 5 pound dumbbells.
  • Increase if your weight is easy for 15+ reps or you stopped seeing results.
  • As you increase, it’s OK to drop down in reps.
  • ALWAYS keep good form. If you break form: rest or drop down in weight or reps.
  • If you increase, you can lower the reps performed or split them between the new weight and lighter weight.
  • You can always do timed workouts, instead of counting reps.

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I’m proud of you for making this decision to better your health! It’s worth it!


*Reps= [Repetitions] How many times you perform each exercise
Sets: How many times through the whole workout

–> My fave dumbbells are Reebok’s- I love the colors and the fact that they are rubber! I’ve mentioned before that I love Reebok in general because of how they treat their overseas workers.


Free Ebook: 8 Common Mistakes When Trying To Lose Weight

8 Responses to “When Should I Increase the Weight I’m Lifting?”
  1. I have seen great results switching from 5 lbs to 10 lbs. It was hard at first, but not anymore.

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      Allison Lambert

      That’s awesome! I thought about your great story as I was writing this! It really does make a difference!

  2. Michelle

    really great information! Makes it so much easier to understand how and when to change weights :) Thank you!

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      Allison Lambert

      Woo hoo! that’s exciting! so much progress! :)

  3. Loved this article on weights! Great info Allison. I am definatley going to be increasing my weight a little. Set of heavier weights definatley on my shopping list this weekend.