If you know me, i'll be no great surprise when I say that I'm a big fan of lifting weights. I won't go into allllll of the benefits it has and how fun it is and everything, but will instead focus briefly on how it will benefit you as an aerialist (no matter your level) and how to choose your weights.
Weight Lifting Benefits for Aerialists
Lifting weights is so beneficial to aerial work because of the control it gives you over the resistance in the exercise. In aerial dance, we do a lot of bodyweight based moves. For a student just starting out, bodyweight can be way too heavy. For example, most new students (ignoring the gymnast/CrossFit/pole dance cross overs) cannot execute a pull up. However, in a traditional gym you can use machines that mimic a pull up or use weights to target the same muscles. This allow you to choose the weight you are pulling/lifting when bodyweight is too much. Then, you can progressively increase the weight you are using to build strength, and eventually do the pull up. The converse is also true - when bodyweight is too light, then you can add weight to increase the resistance.
How to Choose your Weight
Choosing what weight to use can take a bit of experimentation at first, and that's totally OK and to be expected. You will get the hang of it soon! What you want is a weight that allows you to complete all of the reps, with the last 3 or so reps of the set being challenging. Challenging meaning, you have to fight to squeeze them out, but they do not completely wreck you. If you can complete all of the reps easily, you need to go heavier. I don't recommend choosing a weight that causes you to completely burn out though - you want to finish the workout!
If you're getting a weight lifting workout from me, it will probably be clearly targeting arms, back, or legs. And really, it will probably be mostly back and legs. Arms typically can lift the least amount of weight, then back, then legs. For arm exercises, I would recommend starting at about 5-10lbs. For a back exercise that uses 1 arm, I'd start somewhere between 10-20lbs. If you use both arms at the same time then double it. For leg exercises, you can probably start around 20lbs or so.
These numbers are just intended to be guidelines. Everyone will have a different starting place depending on your current strength level and familiarity with the movements. If I'm doing a new movement, I will typically grab a few different weights to test them out. I'll even do this if I'm just changing up the order of exercises I know and do regularly. Go slowwwww. When in doubt, always start lighter and go up if you need to. You will likely need to increase your weight every 1 - 4 weeks as you get stronger and learn the movements better.
A Helpful Tip
I want to give one note about the notation I use for sets and reps when giving workouts - reps being the number of times you do the movement before taking a rest, and sets being the number of rounds you complete. So I will always give a prescribed amount of reps, sets, and rest time. Sometimes I'll give a rep range. Occasionally I will give out supersets - this means you do 2 exercises back to back as a couplet, and THEN take your rest.
Single Exercise: Sets x Reps OR Sets x (Rep Range)
Superset: Sets x (Ex 1 Reps + Ex 2 Reps)
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