Can You Build More Strength and Muscle with Less Weight?

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If you are one of those people who dreads the idea of heavy weight lifting but wants to build their muscle, then worry not. You can still build more strength and muscle with less weight lifting.

In a study, researchers found that those who did 24 leg extensions with lighter weights built just as much muscle as those who did 5 reps with heavier weights. Denise Mann  discussed this on her article:

High Reps With Low Weights Builds Muscle, Too

Study Shows That Lifting a Ton Is Not the Only Way to Bulk Up

April 27, 2012 — Want to build up your muscles in time for beach season? High reps with low weights may be the way to go, a new study suggests.

“There is nothing magical about heavy weights beyond the fact that they make you work hard,” says researcher Nicholas Burd, PhD, of Maastricht University Medical Centre in the Netherlands.

In a series of experiments, Burd and colleagues tweaked some resistance-exercise variables to see which had the greatest effect on building muscle mass. More repetitions with lighter weights can build muscle as well as heavier weights — assuming they are done to the point of exercise-induced fatigue. And fatigue is the important point. That means even with light weight, the last two to three reps should be hard.

The findings appear in the June issue of Applied Physiology, Nutrition, and Metabolism. Read more…

Though this may be a bit contrary to long-held beliefs in bodybuilding industry, but further studies were made that cemented the result. In an article by Victor Tringali, he explained why this fitness routine works:

GET MORE MUSCLE WITH LESS WEIGHT

“Go heavy or go home!” It’s a common catchphrase of diehard lifters that resonates well with both those immersed in the trenches of the iron battlefield and perched atop the ivory towers of academia. Researchers and lifters alike have long espoused the use of relatively heavy weights and lower reps for more muscle and strength. However, if your intention is to build bigger muscles rather than simply impress other people in the weight room with the amount of weight you lift, then you might want to extract a few of those extra plates and keep reading.

Heavier weight or “load” is usually expressed as percentage of a person’s strength for one maximum repetition (1RM). Traditionally, heavier loads have been accepted in being more conducive to hypertrophy since they are capable of recruiting and subsequently activating a greater proportion of type II muscle fibers – which possess superior growth potential to their type I counterparts. Read more…

Though you may ask, “Wouldn’t it be faster and more effective if I do heavy weights?”

It depends, really. Celebrity Trainer Joe Dowdell has an answer for this question:

Ask the Celebrity Trainer: High Reps and Light Weights vs. Low Reps and Heavy Weights?

Q: Should I be doing more reps with lighter weight or fewer reps with heavy weights? Please settle this debate once and for all! Read more…

Not all fitness enthusiasts have the same physical capacity when it comes to working out. Others may want to build more muscle with less weight lifting while others want to do it using the heavy weights. Depending on your fitness goal, both ways can be effective.

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