Lift light and doing more reps to build more muscle and to get strong lifting heavy with few reps is the right way? No, it is not that simple. This is one of the most asked questions and the one we get most confused about too. Today we will debunk this theory and see what is the right and effective way of doing things the right way. According to a recent study, lifting light doing around 25 reps and lifting heavy doing around 12 reps have the same results for building both strength and muscle size.
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To build muscle you would have to make them muscles exhausted. Some even say that it does not matter either the weights are heavy or light. A recent study showed that two groups that did some exercises leg press, bench press, machine-guided knee extension, and shoulder press. One group lifted heavy with lower reps while others did the opposite. In the end, both groups had the same results except for the one that did lower reps on the bench press. So, this exercise with lower reps is more effective. Let’s first address the weight and reps subject.
Low rep and heavyweight workout
Either you are a man or a woman, the method for building muscle mass is the same for both. Lift heavy (from where you can start easily so that you can do 12-14 reps of 2-3 sets) increasing the weight with time as you get accustomed to the current. However, powerlifters, competitive bodybuilders, etc. do intense training consisting of very low reps of extremely heavyweights. Except making the tank tops soaked in sweat what lifting heavyweight does? fast-twitch muscle fibers. These muscles help in muscle size and growth along with building muscle strength.
As these muscles play a crucial part in gaining mass so you must work on these. But the backdrop is that they fatigue quickly but you have to keep them under tension. If they aren’t under tension long enough effective muscle growth won’t be happening.
Lightweight and high rep workout
Increasing reps, of course, is possible with reducing weights. Now, you are lifting about 50% less than you can which isn’t enough to improve muscle growth. This is because such an amount of weight is not enough to activate fast-twitch muscle fibers. Again, to remind you fast-twitch muscle fibers play a key part in gaining muscle. So, what do lightweight and high rep workout do? It gives you strength but it is just a different kind, it helps burn more calories, and burn more fat which gives better afterburn effect.
Before advancing towards the end, here are some key points you should always remember.
Don’t risk yourself
Working out to the point where you start shaking, breaking form or enduring too much strain that it can cause injury or other problems is not the right way. For many people, it is a motivation, which is not wrong but risking your safety and everything you have worked for is not the right way. This is not only for heavy lifters; it also happens if you do too many reps or lighter weights. It might not give you ultimate gains for the time being, but in the long run, you will gain more.
Get close to that point, but don’t reach it. Of course, you would have to push yourself to gain but don’t intend on killing yourself or working until you faint. You might be overtraining, look for overtraining signs and solutions, talk to your trainer and physician. Note if performing the last two or three reps are you facing any of these symptoms.
Increasing weights as you progress
Beginners who want to make gains can do it with lightweight and high-rep work easily. But as you progress and improve with the time you would have to change your strategy. For instance, someone who has been doing it for years would have to increase weight, volume, as well as the intensity in their workouts to gain more.
An increase in volume is not enough
There is more than one way, routine, and workouts to gain muscle. It differs from person to person depending on what their routine is. For instance, a guy who works out at the gym every day can gain more muscle by increasing either workout intensity i.e. either increasing lift intensity or volume. Variation in movement and tempo can make higher-rep sets tough with lighter weights. However, there is another way, including new exercises into your workout routine.
Bring the required changes in training cycles
A constant high-volume workout will make you prone to injury burning out the body. This is exactly the opposite of what you are trying to do, gain muscle. So, just doing high-volume workouts will not work. Then it is time to bring some change in your workout routine. You should start with low weight, high rep workout for a few beginning weeks. This way your joints will be strengthened and the mind and body will be prepared for intense workouts. Then as you feel ready, i.e. when you become adjusted to the prior mentioned workout routine, now is the time to switch. Now you can do heavier weight intensity workouts.
So, should you do more Weights or more Reps?
The smart way is to go for both ways, whether your goal is to lose fat, gain muscles, or tone up the body, and there is a solid reason for it. Despite the belief, including little high-intensity workout to the routine won’t bulk you up. But not including it can leave some muscle fiber weak. Lifting more weight with lower reps can help get a lean body, it is true even it does not seem so. Doing only higher reps of more lightweights will leave fast-twitch muscle fibers un-nourished, working only on the slow-twitch muscle fibers. Of course, this will tone the body making you look chic in a tank top Tees and bottoms as well. But when you are trying to build more muscle fast-twitch muscle fibers are very important and help in making muscle tissue. This also improves your muscle strength. Because muscles are more metabolically active than fat. So, if you won’t give them the calories, they need muscle degeneration starts. It leads to many problems and weaknesses.
You don’t have to just rely on one method. Instead of you go balancing between the two it is better for long-term success. If you lift heavy weight it helps in building muscle but a constant increase in the weights makes the body exhausted. Thus, before increasing the intensity, whether it is rep or weight, you must let your system adjust to the new fiber activations. As you lift lighter weights and do more reps the muscle tissue gets a chance to recover from the intense workout as they improve their endurance.
I suggest you should, at least, once a week lifts heavy with low reps. First, because this way fast-twitch muscles won’t be neglected and second muscle strength will not be lost. If your goal is to lose weight this technique is still a must.
You would have to change the workout after a while. Because after some time the body and mind adapt to the workout. When it is not challenging anymore you are just wasting time on it. If you don’t change the routine, you’ll eventually hit a plateau. Change in the workout keeps the body guessing and trying to adapt to the routine thus in the process it keeps progressing. But switching between weights and weights is something different. Working out on the same routine takes you to a point when you cannot lift more weight or lift weights for enough time. Meaning the body is at risk of getting injured. Switching from low rep/high weight workout to high rep and low weight workout for some time allows the body to make progress continually. And in the meanwhile, you get back and perfect your form and build up endurance. By the time you notice it you are ready to lift heavy weights.
Getting the best of both sides?
Glad you thought of it. So, first of all, you would have to start with a dynamic warm-up. Now is the time to start training. Begin the training by carrying out one or two multi-joint exercises. Squats, deadlifts, and chin-ups are some good examples. Do 2 to 3 sets of 5 or 6 reps of an intense workout. This will work on fast-twitch-muscles increasing the muscle growth potential.
An unstructured and irregular workout approach leads to uneven and odd results. So, it is always better to consult your trainer and workout accordingly. However, you can discuss the details and of course, ask questions and even give suggestions. This will not only give you answers to your questions but will also let the trainer know you are dedicated. Plus you would communicate better making good relations.