February 22, 2019
Lighter Weights, More Reps, Big Results
Wellness Tip

Lighter Weights, More Reps, Big Results

by Berkeley Wellness  

To build muscle, doing more repetitions with lighter weights is as effective as fewer repetitions with heavier weights—as long as you lift to the point of exhaustion. A study from McMaster University in Canada, published in the Journal of Applied Physiology, helps further dispel the long-held notion that heavier is better.

In the study, 49 fit young men followed one of two whole-body weight-lifting protocols four times a week:

  • The “high-repetition” group did 20 to 25 reps per set using lighter weights (corresponding to 30 to 50 percent of their maximal strength).
  • The “low-repetition” group did 8 to 12 reps using higher weights (75 to 90 percent of maximal strength).

Each set was done three times until “volitional failure,” with rests in between. After 12 weeks, the groups showed similar gains in muscle mass and strength (with the exception that strength increased more for bench presses using higher loads and fewer reps).

Also see Slowing Down Muscle Loss and Lift Lighter Weights for Stronger Bones?