Erin Stern knows a thing or two about making gains in the gym. Her experience competing at the highest levels makes her advice much more valuable. In a recent YouTube video, Erin Stern advises how heavy to lift when looking to add muscle and strength.
“We are going to broach the tough topic of how heavy should I lift in order to see results. I consider this topic tough because I am not there with you. I can’t see how difficult those last few reps are for you so instead, what I’m going to do is explain how to get to that point of lifting heavy enough, what it should feel like, and also demonstrate what it should look like.”
Erin Stern has over 14 years of experience. In that time, she has competed in the Figure and Bikini divisions, achieving success in both. Getting her start in 2008, Stern hit the ground running and graced the Olympia stage for the first time in 2009. Her debut appearance earned her a respectable 6th-place position, though her sights were set on first.
The following year, Stern enhanced her already impressive physique and took the Figure Olympia title in 2010. In 2011, Stern would briefly lose her title before earning it back in 2012, making her a two-time Figure Olympia winner.
After such a successful run in the Figure division, Erin Stern decided to move to Bikini where she reigned supreme. In 2022, Stern earned gold at the Republic of Texas Pro, proving she is a formidable opponent no matter the division she competes in.
Erin Stern Gives Her Advice To Make Gains While Lifting Weights
Stern disclosed her most recent tips in a YouTube video and explained how to determine the appropriate weight to lift while working out. Here is her checklist to optimize your gains.
“First and foremost you must warm up. This is very important because if you just dive into the workout and put on a bunch of plates your circulation, your circulatory system is not going to be ready. Your cardiovascular system is not going to be ready, give those muscles time to get loose. Give yourself time to gauge how you are feeling on that day because some days are better than others.”
2. Track Your Weights
“The next point on the checklist is to make sure you are tracking your weights from week to week. A good rule of thumb as far as increasing volume or increasing weight is about a 5-10% increase per week.
Now understand that this is not infinite so we get to a place where we reach that ceiling of strength and at that point we can increase complexity, we can add bands, but also take a deload to allow our bodies to reset but tracking is going ot be so important” Erin Stern explains.
3. Train Close To Failure But Don’t Go To Failure
“Next point I would say that 90% of your lifts you want to go to close to failure but not hit failure. You do not want to hit absolute failure on every single set because this is not only tough on your muscles it’s also tough on your central nervous system.
Your central nervous system is going to take twice as long as to recover as your muscles do so you want to protect it. You want to make sure that if you are going to failure or it you are doing burnout perhaps it at the end of a workout its maybe once or twice a week or isolation exercises something thats not going to be so heavily taxing.”
“Now leaving one-four reps in the tank is going to be really important because it allows you to get close to that point of failure but not push you over the edge of failure. You always want to feel like you could do another rep, you could do another two reps or so and this is going to go a long way towards helping you achieve your goals and also gauging that difficulty.”
Erin Stern gives an example of what this means and explains why it is important to train close to failure.
“Let’s say you are doing lateral raises and you stop at 10 but maybe you could do 20, now if that’s the case think about going up in weight so you get a little bit closer to failure because if you aren’t training close ot failure you’re really not going to be making gains.
In addition, Stern gives an extra tip to those working out at home or simply have limited equipment options.
“An important note, if you are training at home training to failure becomes difficult when you are with limited equipment to consider adding bands, adding pause reps, half reps, or partial reps to increase what’s know as time under tension. That can be a really helpful way to get you that much closer to failure and help you to continue to see results.”
4. Identify The Two Types Of Failure
“Now the last point on the checklist. We have been talking a lot about failure, what is failure? We have two different types and it is important to know what the two types are so you can recognize it in yourself or help your gym buddy recognize it too.
So our muscular failure is when the target muscle gives out. So you absolutely cannot get another rep because you are doing lat pulldowns and your lats are just fried so maybe you get a half a rep and that’s it. So muscular failure I think is fantastic because it’s a great indication to where that point is. When you stop and you aren’t able to lift the weight with that targeted muscle that’s it.”
“Now mechanical failure is a bit different in that your able to perform more reps but on that lat pulldowns for example, you will be recruiting every other muscle other than your lats and it’s going to be ugly. So you are doing that last rep or two and you can feel your traps kick in and you can feel your rear delts kick in or your lower back you start swinging and it is ugly and you may feel it in your abs you may feel it somewhere else but those lats have checked out and you are done training that target muscle and you have moved on to training something else.”
After checking off everything on the list, Erin Stern has several other videos offering workouts to build specific muscle groups. Whether it is her easy-to-follow ‘boulder shoulders’ workout or her step-by-step guide to building bigger quads, Stern makes it easy to achieve a better physique.
Erin Stern’s experience in all things fitness allows her to easily share her tips with her 300,000-plus followers on social media. From training with injuries to unlocking bigger gains, Stern has tested and reliable tips for improving health and wellness.
To watch Erin Stern’s full video, click the link below: