For many gym goers the aim of the fitness game is to build muscle efficiently and effectively. Unfortunately there is conflicting advice from the experts as to the best way to achieve this!
The discussion as to whether you should lift light or lift heavy is ongoing, with many strong opinions on either side. If you are trying to decide which is the best way for you to move forwards with your exercise regime then read on to discover the benefits and drawbacks of both methods!
The Benefits of Lifting Light
A study published last year* suggests that a person may enjoy the same benefits from lifting light weights as lifting heavy weights if the repetition amount is increased. Lifting weights in this way is great for building muscular endurance. Also, one of the best benefits of training in this way is that the impact on the joints is much less than when a person lifts heavy weights.
If you have an existing or past injury in an area of your body that you are trying to train through weightlifting, then sticking with lighter weights is a safer idea than pushing yourself to go heavier.
The Benefits of Lifting Heavy
Several experts discount the idea that lifting light weights can yield the same results as lifting heavy weights, even with an increased number of repetitions. One theory behind this is that when you lift weights that you consider to be heavy, signals are sent from the brain to the muscles to indicate that the body is under great strain, leading to an increased level of strength that is not achievable with lighter weights.
In addition to building muscular endurance when you lift heavy weights, you are also going to be enhancing your strength and your power.
If you are going to go heavy with your workout then it is a sensible idea to add this weight slowly. Don’t start at a weight that you know is going to push you too far beyond your capabilities. Find a weight that you are comfortable to lift five to six repetitions of before the amount starts to become a challenge. You can then build upon this gradually with each workout.
Consider Your Goals
There seems to be substantial evidence to support the claim that lifting heavy is an effective way to build muscle mass in a relatively short period of time*. However, huge gains are not necessarily the goal for everyone. If you want to build your muscle in order to tone your body for a lean physique then lifting light can be the best way to achieve this.
Making an effort to preserve the health of your joints as you age is another popular reason for engaging in weightlifting exercises. If this is your goal then light lifting is certainly the best option. If you are over the age of 40 then lifting light is going to be the best way to help keep your joints healthy and your body toned. Once you have enjoyed your 40th birthday your body will begin to be more at risk of injury – and injuries from working out too hard are no exception to this rule! Your muscles will naturally have a decreased level of elasticity, which means that they are less able to bounce back from damage.
One truth that is agreed upon by experts around the world is that your body adapts when you are getting into weightlifting. This means that you will have to mix up your routine if you wish to continue progressing. So, if you want to maintain and build upon the muscle you already have then you will need to continue to increase the amount of weight that you are lifting, as well as switch up the exercises that you are doing.
If you know that you want to be your best when it comes to your weightlifting workouts but are struggling to find the enthusiasm then click here to read our top three tips for finding fitness motivation!