I am doing training only for my sake, i.e., for general activity and slightly better body. I don't have any long term goals. I exercise twice a week in winters and once every two days in spring and summer.

I do dumbbell lateral raises with 5 kg dumbbells with 12x3 reps. Increasing from 5 to 6 kg is a 20% increase so it is not easy. Besides, I don't want to hurt myself. I am 33 years old and injuries don't heal just as fast.

So, how to increase weights when the starting weight is already too small? Shall I increase reps first and then increase it from 5 to 6 kg? Alternatively, shall I buy quarter kg weights so that I can make half a kg increments? Or, should I just suck it up and do sets of 6,5,5 with the same number of reps and then move to 6,6,5 and 6,6,6 when I feel more comfortable?

If it helps, I am male, 171 meters and 71 kg.

  • Bring the weights in closer to your body and you should be able to lift 6 kilos just fine. It will shorten the lever action. – SurpriseDog Nov 14 '20 at 23:10
  • How? WIth lateral raise, the position of weights is kind of fixed... – C.Koca Nov 14 '20 at 23:47
  • Weighted wrists can also be an option here. – Jimbot Nov 18 '20 at 7:19
  • 1
    @C.Koca you can shorten the moment arm in a lateral raise by bending your elbow. Do the exercise with your elbow bent to a fixed angle (ie.e. holding it at, say, 45° of flexion), and the weights won't be so far out from your shoulders at the top, making the exercise easier. – David Scarlett Nov 20 '20 at 0:46

Progressive overload is the way to build muscle. However, many people think that only weights are a loading factor, whereas time under tension, number of sets&reps, and rest times are all factors in progressive overload. So, you can stick with the same weight and increase the number of reps or sets, or decrease rest time. It would help you build muscle too.

  • Perhaps, but he’s not getting very strong that way. He might be building muscle that can help him endure holding the same weight for longer, but he’s not building strength to increase his force production. He wants to add weight, which means get stronger, not hold the same weight for longer. – Frank Nov 19 '20 at 23:10

Double progression is the most common way of maintaining progressive overload when the minimum increment in weight is too much for you. It consists of increasing the reps at a single weight until some target or threshold maximum number of reps is reached, and then increasing the weight while reducing the reps performed, and beginning to work up the rep range with the new weight.

Let's say you're aiming for 3 sets of 12 reps, then your progression might look like this.

| Workout # | Weight | Reps each set | Completed target 3x12? |
|         1 | 5kg    |       10,10,9 | No                     |
|         2 | 5kg    |      11,11,10 | No                     |
|         3 | 5kg    |      12,11,10 | No                     |
|         4 | 5kg    |      12,12,11 | No                     |
|         5 | 5kg    |      13,12,12 | YES                    |
|         6 | 6kg    |         8,8,7 | No                     |
|         7 | 6kg    |         9,9,8 | No                     |
|         8 | 6kg    |        10,9,9 | No                     |
|         9 | 6kg    |      11,10,10 | No                     |
|        10 | 6kg    |      11,11,10 | No                     |
|        11 | 6kg    |      12,12,11 | No                     |
|        12 | 6kg    |      12,12,12 | YES                    |
|        13 | 7kg    |         8,8,7 | No                     |

I think you should progressively overload barbell weights using, for example, the barbell overhead press to build shoulder strength. You can increase the weight on the bar by half a pound if you make a small investment in micro plates and I would argue that it’s a better overall exercise for shoulder strength.

Getting your overhead press from 45 pounds to, say, 135 will improve your lateral raise without ever having to do the lateral raise.

But, if you must do the lateral raise you can buy micro weights made for dumbbells to graduate the weights.

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