Light Weights Vs Heavy Weights For Muscle Gain?

Do you lift light weights for loads of reps or do you lift heavier weights for fewer reps for muscle mass?


Traditionally the typical muscle building reps & sets are 8-12 reps roughly 70% of 1RM and thee is nothing wrong with that


We also know that you must progress throughout your program either volume or intensity must progress in order for any adaptation to occur over a long period of time traditionally known as progressive overload…


What you need to do to gain muscle


Before we go into heavy load Vs Light load, what you need to do to gain muscle is to cause some sort of stress on the muscle 


When you're lifting weights (forget about the weight) you get towards the end of your set and the weights start moving slower you can feel it on the muscle and it becomes tough


This is what you want to do to gain muscle, you need to get to the golden zone where the bar speed slows down there is tension on the muscle this is where you will grow, you need this


The fight for heavy load training…


Now heavy load training has many benefits first of all strength, if you want to get stronger there is no argument you have to lift heavy weights after all the body gets used to what you expose it to if you expose it to heavy weights it will get stronger


When it comes to muscle building, heavy training can be hit and miss, go too heavy and you won’t get to that magic zone where the reps slow own enough to cause stress on the muscle and grow, it normally goes from 1-2 good reps then sudden fail 


This isn't great you need to have some sort of that slow contraction and stressing the muscle in order for it to grow like we said above 


The fight for light load training…


Light training often gets brushed aside, it’s not heavy to impress anyone and you have to do sets of 30 to feel a burn but you can still build muscle 


There is far less stress being put on tendons/ligaments when you train with light loads however you can cause a huge amount of stress on the muscle for it to grow 


The downside is that you have to do a tonne of reps to get to the “golden zone”


What then?


Just to clarify you can train across many rep ranges to gain muscle after all there is more than one way to skin a cat, what you must do in order to gain muscle you need to go to near failure that golden zone where those tough reps happen when the bar speed slows down and you can feel it in the muscle 


This is when you cause stress to build muscle, as long as you're achieving this you will gain muscle, now if you want to get stronger there is no argument you have to lift heavy


If muscle building is the goal, you have to way up the pro’s and con’s if you choose light load training you have to do sets of 30 to get to any sort of muscle tension so basically the first 20 reps of the set where just a warm up before you feel the benefits 


If you go for heavy loads there is some slightly higher risks of injury but you still need to achieve those slow muscle building reps if you go too heavy you wont achieve this


This is where the middle range 8-12 reps slightly heavy weight comes from 


The answer…


Train how you want to, as long as you're sticking to some of the basics of weight training


Train hard - Lift to near failure 


Lift enough to cause a change (volume)


Progressive overload over time 


Then comes the usual of consistency, adherence, food, rest, stress etc. 


As long as you're causing some sort of stress to the muscle you will be able to build muscle 

John CunninghamComment