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Less weights = just as good? Really?

Posted: Tue Jun 12, 2012 12:44 pm
by mythil
Well any time any new research comes around I always like to look at it to see if it's bunk or decent. One thing I saw as of late was a bit of research that states that you can build an equal amount of muscle mass and endurance by lifting light weights by at much higher reps, 20-25.

Anyone seen, heard or tried it? Would be interested to see what you think.

Re: Less weights = just as good? Really?

Posted: Tue Jun 12, 2012 1:06 pm
by Fallen_Horse
http://www.sheknows.com/health-and-wellness/articles/960631/should-women-lift-light-weights

I think the key is is that all participants performed their sets TO FAILURE, meaning that each person moved a total weight that ended up fully fatiguing their muscles. So 20lbs with 20 reps would be the same total as 40lbs with 10 reps.

Also note:

"For the study, a series of experiments were conducted on nine healthy male volunteers, ages 19 to 26, to measure how their leg muscles reacted to different forms of resistance training over 10 weeks.

The researchers first determined the maximum weight each subject could lift one time in a knee extension. Each subject was assigned to a different training program for each leg."

So there are certainly some flaws inherent in the study as well....

Re: Less weights = just as good? Really?

Posted: Tue Jun 12, 2012 1:11 pm
by mythil
Well it maybe worth trying it for a few weeks and seeing first hand if it's true.

Re: Less weights = just as good? Really?

Posted: Tue Jun 12, 2012 2:09 pm
by VeganEssentials
There's no question, you CAN do some good with high rep training, but as the backbone of a mass/strength building program, there's a lot better out there.

I've gained on programs where I didn't do more than 1-3 reps in my sets, and I've gained on programs where I incorporate 25-50 rep sets as well. But, I'd say that from personal experience, it's harder to make good strength and mass gains with more than just a few high rep sets, they tend to fare better for me when I'm working to lose fat or am primarily after improving my conditioning level. I might throw a few in (I respond better with things like shrugs at high reps of 20+ per set than I do low reps) here and there, but it's usually the smaller muscle groups or just a few sets as a "finisher" exercise after doing the heavier stuff first.

Doesn't hurt to vary things up and experiment, but I'd be wary of a high rep plan being optimal for many people who are working to get bigger/stronger in the most efficient way possible!

Re: Less weights = just as good? Really?

Posted: Tue Jun 12, 2012 2:38 pm
by mythil
VeganEssentials wrote:There's no question, you CAN do some good with high rep training, but as the backbone of a mass/strength building program, there's a lot better out there.

I've gained on programs where I didn't do more than 1-3 reps in my sets, and I've gained on programs where I incorporate 25-50 rep sets as well. But, I'd say that from personal experience, it's harder to make good strength and mass gains with more than just a few high rep sets, they tend to fare better for me when I'm working to lose fat or am primarily after improving my conditioning level. I might throw a few in (I respond better with things like shrugs at high reps of 20+ per set than I do low reps) here and there, but it's usually the smaller muscle groups or just a few sets as a "finisher" exercise after doing the heavier stuff first.

Doesn't hurt to vary things up and experiment, but I'd be wary of a high rep plan being optimal for many people who are working to get bigger/stronger in the most efficient way possible!


Interesting, thanks for the opinion.

The only reason I'm looking at trying it at least is because my upper body strength is.. pitiful. I've been working out for a year and all my strength is in my lower back and downwards while my shoulders, chest and arms have not budged.

Re: Less weights = just as good? Really?

Posted: Tue Jun 12, 2012 2:39 pm
by Baby Hercules
VeganEssentials wrote:There's no question, you CAN do some good with high rep training, but as the backbone of a mass/strength building program, there's a lot better out there.

I've gained on programs where I didn't do more than 1-3 reps in my sets, and I've gained on programs where I incorporate 25-50 rep sets as well. But, I'd say that from personal experience, it's harder to make good strength and mass gains with more than just a few high rep sets, they tend to fare better for me when I'm working to lose fat or am primarily after improving my conditioning level. I might throw a few in (I respond better with things like shrugs at high reps of 20+ per set than I do low reps) here and there, but it's usually the smaller muscle groups or just a few sets as a "finisher" exercise after doing the heavier stuff first.

Doesn't hurt to vary things up and experiment, but I'd be wary of a high rep plan being optimal for many people who are working to get bigger/stronger in the most efficient way possible!


What he said. Variety shocks the muscle and the brain into steady gains if you do it right but everybody's different. It pays to experiment, get to know your body, then only use high reps on areas that will respond to them without losing mass. I knew a real gorilla of a man once who, every once in a while, did a lighter weight to failure. Sometimes, he'd get up to 50 or 60 reps. He did it for "shock treatment" to break a plateau he was in or just out of boredom. His guns were as big around as my thighs, so I'd say it was workin.'

Another way to mix it up is with slow reps, where you lift around 40-75% of your usual load but in a very slow controlled, motion. You do only two or three sets, taking ten seconds each for the eccentric and concentric phases of the exercise. The benefit is that you are flexed the entire time and it is virtually impossible to cheat by using momentum as an assist. It's great for people healing a joint because it's easy to monitor how everything feels when you are moving so slowly. Your entire workout takes less time, too. Obviously, there are a few moves that don't lend themselves well to a slow rep style but there's not a single muscle that you can't address with it if you get creative.

Baby Herc

Re: Less weights = just as good? Really?

Posted: Tue Jun 12, 2012 4:46 pm
by veggiesasquatch
Fallen Horse....You do not need to lift to failure to gain, thats about the biggest load of rubbish I have ever read & is why the majority of people over train & make no progress.

Re: Less weights = just as good? Really?

Posted: Tue Jun 12, 2012 11:59 pm
by Fallen_Horse
veggiesasquatch wrote:Fallen Horse....You do not need to lift to failure to gain, thats about the biggest load of rubbish I have ever read & is why the majority of people over train & make no progress.


You can certainly gain simply by doing ANY form of exercise that causes fatigue, but I personally believe that training to failure is the quickest and most time-effective method to gain strength and mass. However, in my previous comment, I was simply pointing out that the study participants shared a commonality, due to everyone performing to failure.

Also, I think that 99% of gym-goers are in fact undertraining, not overtraining. So for the general public, I don't think education about the 'dangers of overtraining' will be very useful.

Just my 2c. :)

Re: Less weights = just as good? Really?

Posted: Wed Jun 13, 2012 12:28 am
by veggiesasquatch
Was Not aiming that at you, just the fact that it states its taken to failure.

But as you now say you believe in it.....;)

I actually think the opposite, I see people constantly over training. Absolutely destroyed Ztheir chest & triceps/biceps & shoulders.

But seriously lifting to failure does not mean you're gaining any thing faster or better. For me it shows a complete lack of know how & the general masses think they are training like a pro. I also stand by the fact that lifting constantly to failure is mentally draining & can put people into a negative state.

Noone is questioning weather or not you should be working hard but leaving something in the tank after a session means your body has something to work with. Constant failure lifting will put a huge amount of stresses on the cns.

On saying that certain people will respond to more volume over weight.

Re: Less weights = just as good? Really?

Posted: Wed Jun 13, 2012 3:31 am
by veggiesasquatch
Next time I train with Loz I'll put it to him he doesn't need to lift heavy to top his WSM deadlift of 440kg but do loads of light weight reps....I already know his answer mind you

Re: Less weights = just as good? Really?

Posted: Wed Jun 13, 2012 10:27 am
by mythil
Interesting answers and opinions :)

My biggest problem, as stated before, is that my upper body is pitiful when compared to my lower body, seriously my average bench press is about.. 20kg.. horrific. Looking around for stuff at the moment to really get a base going.

Re: Less weights = just as good? Really?

Posted: Wed Jun 13, 2012 10:43 am
by chewybaws
For beginners I think high rep training is utterly useless. My reason for this is when the weight is that light you can do anything to lift it, there's no need for your body to be efficient or your technique to be good. Beginners should be concentrating on many sets of low reps to learn the lifts properly, and increasing the weight quickly session to session. Not to mention there's barely any stimulus or need for the muscles to grow with a weight you can lift more than 20 times.

I have had success on Jim Wendler's 5/3/1 where you can rep out the last set, which in practice meant that I was working upto just a single set of 8-12 reps. That's what I'd call high rep. Anything above that is just endurance work in my opinion... I only really find that useful for rehabbing.

Re: Less weights = just as good? Really?

Posted: Wed Jun 13, 2012 10:46 am
by veggiesasquatch
Improve bench press my doing dumbbell rows (strengthen the upper back) OHP to increase shoulder/upper body strength.

Program wise basic plate loading....3x5 working sets...you hit the 3x5 reps & then add 5lb/2.5kg to the bar till you nolonger can hit 3x5 (hopefully a few months down the line.

Don't neglect pushups either

Re: Less weights = just as good? Really?

Posted: Wed Jun 13, 2012 11:16 am
by veggiesasquatch
You should really be looking at starting strength or strong lifts ..both for beginners. Once the work becomes to much you can move onto the intermediate levels or goto 5/3/1...5/3/1 is where your longer term gains will come, from a personal point.

5/3/1 does have a beginners template but as your lifts are at a beginners level the other two will rapidly help (beginners gains)

But basic programming would go (start lighter than what you currently lift is possible)

Eg OHP x3 warm up sets then  3x5...next OHP session you add 2.5kg/5lb....& so on. You fail 3x5 you repeat the weight next time. 

Once your squatting roughly body weight look for the next level...

Re: Less weights = just as good? Really?

Posted: Wed Jun 13, 2012 12:09 pm
by chewybaws
Sorry I should make it clear that my last post was supposed to be split in 2. Was just talking about my experience with higher reps, I DON'T recommend 5/3/1 for beginners.