A new study has found that lifting lighter weights but with higher repetitions is just as effective at building muscle mass as lower reps of heavy weights.
If you’re still labouring—and grunting—under the notion that heavier weights are better for muscle building, you can breathe easier. A new study has found that lifting lighter weights but with higher repetitions is just as effective at building muscle mass as lower reps of heavy weights.
In the study, published in the Journal of Applied Physiology, the McMaster University researchers recruited young male volunteers to undergo strength training experiments over a period of 10 weeks, carrying out three different training programs three times per week.
The results were measured by MRI and showed that the groups who trained with lighter loads and higher reps gained as much muscle as those who trained with the heavier loads at lower reps.
“We found that loads that were quite heavy and comparatively light were equally effective at inducing muscle growth and promoting strength,” says Cam Mitchell, one of the lead authors of the study.
Good news for seniors
These results are a boon to seniors who know that strength training is not only good for their bodies, but is also a good tonic for their minds. Lifting heavy weights can be difficult for older people, especially those with joint problems, but this research shows that using light weights can keep them in tip-top form.
“This study shows that they have the option of training with lighter and less intimidating loads and can still receive the benefits,” says Mitchell.
Good news for injured athletes
It’s also good news for those who are recovering from injuries. Getting back to form after suffering a sports injury can be frustrating, but building muscle and strength around damaged areas helps to speed recovery. This study suggests that high reps with light weights can be a useful tool in getting them back in the game.