How to choose the right weights for your workouts
So you’ve mastered the movements in your workouts and you’re (just about) keeping up with the tempo set by Luke, Alexz, Bobby and Torre. But, wait, is the weight too light? Too heavy? Should you be lifting more? Should you be keeping the same weight throughout? Help!
Knowing which weights to use can get confusing, so we asked some of your Centr trainers for their advice on how much to lift during their workouts. Before we dive in, remember these quick tips:
For workouts with higher reps (think HIIT, HIRT, MMA sessions), decrease the weight you’re using
For workouts with lower reps (think muscle building and strength sessions), increase the weight you’re using
Luke Zocchi’s HIIT HIRT Strength sessions
"My tip would be to start slow and build up your weights. You need to train safely, but you want to be fatigued by the time frame you’re working in!”
Kettlebell 13lbs (6kg)
Dumbbell 11lbs (5kg)
Small barbell with 5.5lbs (2.5kg)
Kettlebell 22-30lbs (10-14kg)
Dumbbell 17.5-27.5lbs (8-12.5kg)
Barbell with up to 11lbs (5kg)
Ingrid Clay’s HIIT HIRT STRENGTH sessions
“Now, I love lifting heavy! But you should start with a weight that challenges you – not so heavy that you can’t get through a set, but enough that you’re feeling it by the end. If you only have limited dumbbells, use what you have. As you progress you can always try to increase your reps a little and push your muscle fatigue that way.”
Beginner dumbbell weights:
Intermediate dumbbell weights:
Light – 5-7lbs (2-3kg)
Heavier – 11-22lbs (5-10kg)
Advanced dumbbell weights:
Light – 7-11lbs (3-5kg)
Heavier – 22-44lbs+ (10-20kg+)
Ashley Joi's HIIT Strength sessions
“Remember that when it comes to adding weights to your training sessions for the first time, any weight is good weight! The main thing is that you’re pushing yourself – you’ll find out pretty quickly if you need to go lighter or heavier based on how your body responds.”
Dumbbells 6-11lbs (3-5kg)
Kettlebells 10-30 lbs (5-14kg)
Torre Washington’s muscle building sessions
“It can be tricky to get the load right at the beginning, but once you understand the exercises, technique and difficulty, you should be better able to select the right weight for you. My top tip: stick to two 'reps in reserve' at the end of each set – quality over quantity, always."
Dumbbells 2-11lbs (1-5kg)
Barbell 44lbs (20kg)
When you feel a set is easy and you’re not feeling fatigued, feeling the good sore, a little stiff, tight or pumped in the days after your workout, then increase your weights by 2-4lbs (1-2kg). For more tips on building muscle, check out our guide here.
Bobby Holland Hanton’s strength sessions
“My tip would be, don’t forget the higher the rep, the lower the weight and vice versa. For an extra little challenge, try some climbers – for example, complete 8 reps of an exercise each arm with say 30lbs (14kg), then the same with 35lbs (16kg) and 40lbs (18kg). Feel how it changes as the weight increases!”
Kettlebell 13lbs (6kg)
Dumbbell 11lbs (5kg)
Barbell 22lbs (10kg)
Kettlebell 35-39.5lbs (16-18kg)
Dumbbells 35-39.5lbs (16-18kg)
Barbell 55-66lbs (25-30kg)
Tiff Hall’s HIIT HIRT MMA sessions
“You’ve got to look at the aim of HIIT, HIRT and MMA when picking up the weights. We’re going for intensity, good technique and working hard in the time frame. I use 2lbs (1kg) dumbbells in my sessions and that is absolutely enough!”
4-6.5lbs (2-3kg) max
Remember, the above weights are a guideline only – we recommend every time to listen to your body and scale the load according to your individual fitness levels and preferences. Safety should always come before increasing your weights, so make sure your technique is good throughout any weight changes!
Centr Fusion: Strength with Ashley Joi
“If you can do reps one through 10 and there's no struggle, you better up that weight!”
And if you are struggling? “Go until you can't do it anymore, then get a lighter weight to finish your set! You just don't stop.”
Centr Fusion: BoxHIIT with Michael Olajide Jr.
To get the most out of BoxHIIT, nailing your form is key, especially when you’re using hand weights.
“Anytime you're feeling a little bit unsure, especially when you're starting for the first time, slow it down.” Take it at your own pace, Michael says, and the strength will come. “As you progress, you're going to be able to punch stronger and faster.”
Centr Ignite with Luke Zocchi & Alexz Parvi
By fusing classic bodyweight moves with new dumbbell exercises, Centr Ignite is the program that gets you MORE: “More resistance. More burn. More definition!” says Alexz.
“You’ll need two sets of dumbbells to maximize your results: one lighter pair and one heavier pair. We use the lighter dumbbells on dynamic and plyometric moves like punching combos, and the heavier weights to really challenge your muscles on static exercises like deadlifts. Just listen out and we’ll let you know when to switch!”
Lighter dumbbells – 1-2lbs (0.5-1kg)
Heavier dumbbells – 5-10lbs (2-4kg)
Lighter dumbbells – 2-5lbs (1-2kg)
Heavier dumbbells – 10-18lbs (4-8kg)
Lighter dumbbells – 5-9lbs+ (2-4kg+)
Heavier dumbbells – 18-32lbs+ (8-15kg+)
Centr Sculpted with Ingrid Clay, Luke Zocchi & Maricris Lapaix
Centr Sculpted is a high-intensity strength training program – and you’ll need to take that intensity into consideration when choosing your weights, explains Ingrid.
“In Sculpted the tempo is a little faster, so you may want to start lighter than your absolute heaviest squat or deadlift weight, because we’ll be doing more supersets and a whole lot more reps. That way, we’re working on not just muscular strength, but muscular endurance.”
Intermediate and Advanced, follow Ingrid and Luke’s lead and use lighter or heavier dumbbells for specific exercises. Plus, increase weight regularly to keep making gains. Beginners, start light. If you’re finding it tough, drop back to bodyweight and bring in the dumbbells when you’re ready.
Light dumbbells – 2-5lbs (1-2kg)
Heavy dumbbells – 5-10lbs (2-4kg)
Light dumbbells – 5-7lbs (2-3kg)
Heavier dumbbells – 11-22lbs (5-10kg)
Light dumbbells – 7-11lbs+ (3-5kg+)
Heavier dumbbells – 22-44lbs+ (10-20kg+)
Sign up to unlock your full potential
All your tools in one place
Expert-training to fuel your fitness, nutrition and mindfulness.
Limitless ways to fuel your mind & body
Access to over 3,000 workouts, recipes, and meditations – all tailored to your goals.
Tech that keeps you moving
Download Centr on all your devices to level up and track your results live.