Study: Light Lifting as Effective as Heavy Weights
New research from McMaster University suggests that lifting lighter weights many times is as efficient as lifting heavy weights for fewer repetitions.
It is the latest in a series of studies that started in 2010, contradicting the decades-old message that the best way to build muscle is to lift heavy weights.
“Fatigue is the great equalizer here,” says Stuart Phillips, senior author on the study and professor in the Department of Kinesiology.
Phillips added: “Lift to the point of exhaustion and it doesn’t matter whether the weights are heavy or light.”
Researchers recruited two groups of men for the study – all of them experienced weight lifters – who followed a 12-week, whole-body protocol.
One group lifted lighter weights (up to 50% of maximum strength) for sets ranging from 20 to 25 repetitions.
The other group lifted heavier weights (up to 90% of maximum strength) for eight to 12 repetitions.
Both groups lifted to the point of failure.
Researchers analyzed muscle and blood samples and found gains in muscle mass and muscle fibre size, a key measure of strength, were virtually identical.
“At the point of fatigue, both groups would have been trying to maximally activate their muscle fibres to generate force,” said Phillips.
The findings echo the philosophy of UFC legend Georges Saint-Pierre’s trainer Firas Zahabi, who made a similar case on the Joe Rogan Podcast recently (watch below).
“For the ‘mere mortal’ who wants to get stronger, we’ve shown that you can take a break from lifting heavy weights and not compromise any gains,” concluded Phillips.
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