We have all been a ‘newbie’ at one point or another. My first piece of advice? Leave your mother freaking ego at the door. Noone cares if you lift 5lbs or 500lbs💅-even though that would be impressive😂. As a beginner it’s very difficult to judge the weight to use based on your sets and rep scheme. While, I like to use RPE: Rate Per Exertion, which is based on a scale of 1-10 of how hard the weight is or even a percentage of that, it takes time and knowledge of what you are doing to come to that.
In my 1:1 programs, I personally give you the weights and eventually you would move into a RPE or % of it. However, if you are just following along with a program that doesn’t give you any of this it can be very hard to know what weight to use. Here’s how I explain picking out a good weight.
Most programs will have set and rep schemes that involve higher volume (lots of reps or sets) or lower volume (not as many reps or sets). Typically, your higher volume will make it to where you use lighter weights and your lower volume will use heavier weights. This is important, because if you have a lot of volume to do and you pick a very heavy weight not only could you cause injury, but it may just make you feel like trash if you push too hard😂.
But, where do you start? Depending on the movement most bodyweight exercises are a great start, so once you are passed that I recommend starting with the lowest weight you can as a warm up. This way you can get a ‘feel’ of the weight. If you do a warm up of 6-10 reps how did those feel? Light? Heavy? Based on that you can go down or up for your working sets (the sets and reps you will do as you’re programmed).
💫Something to always remember: you should not be going to failure every single set! The weights you are using should be difficult by your last 1-2 reps, but form should not be compensated to do so.
As a newbie, your strength gains will skyrocket within the first 12 weeks and then should plateau, however, that should not come as a sacrifice to your form. This is how newbies get injured months into working out. So, make sure to keep notes of your weights! This is easily overlooked and causes you to not progressively overload your movements. I.e. you forget how much weight you did prior and end up going down. It also is beneficial to write it down and maybe even note how hard the workout was, so you know if next time you need to move the weight down. Remember, you want your last 1-2 reps to be hard, but not causing you to fail the movement.
Hope this helps!