|This is not heavy enough.... (and not low enough for my expectations)|
First a little disclaimer.... Proper technique and movement patterns should be your number one priority when performing resistance exercise. So basically, if you move like a pregnant ostrich with a broken leg, correct your movement patterns before adding weight to your lifts.......
One significant obstacle I see holding a lot of people back from their fitness goals is being intimidated by performing resistance exercises with an adequate amount of weight. There are a ton of body weight exercises that will get you in better shape that are just fine without an additional load, however putting some weight on the bar can get you over that physical and mental hurdle if your goals have been dormant for awhile.
The exercises where I see the most room for an increase in poundage's are basic compound movements; squats, deadlifts, presses (bench or overhead) and pulls (weighted chin-ups or Dumbbell / Barbell Rows). Now, these exercises don't have to be done in the traditional way, a split squat would be a very effective movement to attempt a little more weight whether in the form of a dumbbell or a barbell. Exercises like lateral raises and tricep extensions really aren't measures of "true" strength, so it's more important you focus on movements that make a physique changing difference.
From what I have seen from most trainees is that it's not necessarily the weight, but the look of a big dumbbell or loaded barbell that makes people a little uneasy. Also the preconceived notion, that heavy weight will make you big and bulky which is proven false over and over. My wife has gotten leaner by significantly increasing her weight on squats and deadlifts during the past 18 months.
Once a few of these mental roadblocks are out of the way, and the weight you lift is increased you will see and feel the physical benefits. It also helps when people realize that you don't always have to do 3 sets of 10 routine during a weight training session. I find that when I reduce a persons reps down to the 3-5 range, they develop a little more confidence and realize the weight was not that bad for the prescribed repetitions. Once the confidence goes up, and the form looks good, the weight goes up as well.
Just like any form of exercise progression, it helps to have little "baby steps" set up to make a person feel more positive toward an increase in the training load. For some of my clients it helps just to use 5 or 10lb. plates rather than using a 25, 35, or 45 pound plate. Sometimes a slight mental edge can really improve a person willingness to increase a lift by 5-10 pounds. I've actually had a client squat with two 10lb. plates and 5lb. plate on each side (95lbs.) to proper depth for 5 reps and the next training session when I put on a 25lb. plate she looked like she never performed a proper squat in her life!
There are plenty of ways to make a training session more difficult and effective, but cutting down the reps and loading up a little weight seems to be the least popular. Most of the time the "least" popular route is the one you should be doing.... It's really not strength training if you can carry on a normal conversation during a set of an exercise. If the lifting load is decent, you should be under too much physical stress to discuss your weekend plans with your trainer or training partner.
It's time to give heavier lifting a try. I see way too many people who use 10lb. dumbbells for an just about every exercise they perform , and that was the exact weight they were lifting a year ago. So where is the progress? Increasing the reps would be effective for a limited time, but once you reach 15-20 reps, is there really a need to perform more?
It's time to start getting the results you deserve from an exercise program, next time you're in the gym grab a set of heavier dumbbells or load the bar up with another 5 or 10lb. plate, cut your reps down and start lifting heavy. You'll get better physically and mentally, and hopefully bring a little more intensity into your exercise routine.