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How to Progress

After the first week or so of strength training, you should start doing each exercise with weights that you can lift at least ten times with only moderate difficulty. (If a given exercise seems too difficult—if you cannot do at least eight repetitions—then the weight you are using is too heavy and you need to scale back.)

After two weeks of strength training, you should reassess the difficulty of each exercise with your current level of weights. You may start doing the overhead press with one-pound dumbbells, for example. By the end of the second week, the exercise may feel too easy—that is, you can easily lift the one-pound dumbbell through the full range of motion and in proper form more than twelve times. You should now step up your weights to two- or three-pound dumbbells and see how the exercise feels at the new weight level.

Tufts Nutrition