Lightweights or Heavyweights, which is better for optimum muscle gain? If you are aiming for muscle growth. You may want to incorporate Lightweights or Heavyweights in your training. But what will be the best lifting equipment for you?
Many conventional thinkers believe that big is better than small. This definitely applies to lift training. There are many who see high repetitions of light weights as muscle endurance training. Having only minimal contribution to gaining muscle mass. Obviously, the opposite, which is the low to moderate reps of heavier weights. It has been the traditional workout technique that is widely known for muscle gain.
There are even goal charts created where in the time under tension and the load that you have to lift is listed. It will depend on the goal that you are aiming for. The more complex the goal, the lesser the time and the heavier the load.
Such chart and conventional beliefs regarding muscle growth imply that heavy loads are better if you want to increase hypertrophy and strength. While lighter leads will lead to endurance but not hypertrophy.
Little did you know that there are studies already conducted to determine which approach is the best for muscle growth.
Research # 1, Debunking conventions but not enough
Stuart Philips and his colleagues released numerous findings regarding the effects of lightweights or heavyweights to muscle gain. In the year 2012, they subjected 18 male participants to leg training on the leg extension machine. The subjects performed the training three times a week continuously until the 10th week.
They were grouped into 3 and had different ranges of a routine program. One group had to do 3 sets at 30% of their 1RM for 30-40 repetitions, another group did 1 set at 80% of their 1RM for 10-12 repetitions, and the last group finished 3 sets at 80% of their 1RM for 10-12 repetitions.
The results showed that muscle growth in the participants’ quadriceps was almost the same in groups 1 to 3. This means that both the lightweights or heavyweights teams increased equivalent muscle mass when the volume was considered.
Though quite an eye-opener to some, many still criticized the study. Since the participants are untrained trainers whose tendency for muscle gain is high when subjected to any training.
Research # 2, Breaking Barriers
To address the criticisms received, Philips and his team conducted another study. In 2016, they subjected 49 men to the same grouping and protocol. The difference from the first program is that the men in the 2016 study have an average of 4 years of lifting experience. They completed a whole-body resistance training program.
The results, once again, exhibited that the load of the weights did not directly impact hypertrophy. In other words, both lightweights or heavyweights resulted in the same escalation of muscle growth.
Various studies, as well as meta-analyses, has been performed regarding the effects of these weights.
Ultimately, they all arrived at the same conclusion. Lightweights or heavyweights can provide the equal amounts of muscle growth when the volume is paralleled and sets are taken close to failure.
Which is better?
From the numerous researches made, it is now clear that lightweights can be as beneficial as heavy weights in terms of muscle gain.
Though it is important to note that 8 meta-analyses showed that heavyweight training can lead to better results. When strength gain is considered.
Moreover, the researches involved the use of pushing to near failure irrespective of the weights being used. Increased metabolic stress is causing a way more uncomfortable training to failure in doing higher rep range than heavy weights with lower reps. Some of the participants in the studies conducted even threw up after doing the high rep sets.
It is then essential for training newbies to know. The two main mechanisms of muscle growth, mechanical tension, and metabolic stress. More mechanical tension is induced when you lift heavy weights while more metabolic stress can be caused by lifting lightweights in high repetitions.
To maximize muscle growth, both mechanisms should be targeted and included in your training program.