When it comes to lifting weight the old argument of lightweight vs heavyweight lifting seems to come up in conversation in almost every gym. Will I be able to settle this argument once and for all in this article? Probably not, but I will try and give you some pros and cons of both so you can decide what’s best for you.
So what’s more effective? Doing more reps with lighter weights or doing less reps with heavier weights. There seems to be a dividing line between women and men when it comes to typical weight training. For example, men tend to think that bench pressing as much weight as they can is the only true way to increase their muscle mass, or more precisely their pecs. Women on the other hand are more worried about bulking up so don’t want to lift the heavier weights.
Ok, so can I have a drum role? Basically, lifting light weights with more repetitions works your muscles just as much as when you lift heavy weights with fewer repetitions, you will gain the same amount of strength by lifting the weights either way. However, the amount of weight being lifted does affect the types of muscle fibers used when you lift. Which in-turn will determine whether you are building muscles for explosive strength or building muscles for endurance strength.
Fun-fact: if you are lifting heavier weights your body will release more fat-burning and muscle-growth hormones than when you lift lighter weights.
Should you Lift Heavy Weight or Light Weight?
Let’s take a look at some of the pros and cons of lightweight vs heavyweight lifting. Depending on what your end goal is with lifting weights, choose what best works for you.
Looking to Bulk up?
If your end goal with lifting weights is to increase the size of your muscles you should look at lifting heavy weights for a few explosive repetitions, less is more here. By doing so more muscle growth hormones will be released by your body which in-turn will help stimulate faster muscle growth.
But ladies don’t worry this won’t cause your arms to blow up in size like Arnold Schwarzenegger since women have less testosterone than men. For women the increased muscle growth hormones in the body will give your muscles increased definition but should not make them get any bigger in size.
Fun-fact, lifting lighter weights at more repetitions helps to build muscular endurance which helps with cardio activities such as cycling, and long-distance running, to name just a few. On the other hand, the explosive power gained from lifting those heavier weights helps with sprinting, jumping and any other quick movements.
Lifting Weights and Muscle Fibers
There are two types of muscles fibers in the body, fast-twitch and slow-twitch and all of your muscles have both types. However, the type of muscle fibers used during exercise depends on the exertion level.
Confused? Ok in layman’s terms. If you are lifting light weight for say no more than 20 repetitions you will use your slow-twitch muscles for muscular endurance. Whereas, if you are lifting a set of weights so heavy that you are struggling to do just 10 repetitions this will require the fast-twitch muscle fibers for explosive power.
When it Comes to Boosting Your Metabolism
Let’s keep it simple; basically the more muscle mass you have the faster your metabolism will be. So you will burn body fat even when you have your feet up watching the TV. By lifting a set of heavier weights for fewer repetitions (which means a shorter gym workout) will build more muscle than a longer workout with a light set of weights, make sense?
Is Your Goal to Burn Body Fat?
If you are looking to burn body fat you should be lifting heaver weights rather than lighter weights, the heavier the weight the more calories you are going to burn with each repetition.
By lifting the heavier weights your muscles will use the fast-twitch fibers and these muscle fibers tap into the fat stores in your body for quick energy since its available more quickly than oxygen.
Also as an added bonus, lots of fat burning hormones are released which will then continue to burn body fat for up to 8 hours after your workout! Whereas, if you opt for using light weights which use the slow-twitch muscle fibers you will continue to burn body fat for only an hour after your workout.
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