Heavy Weight Low Reps
If you are a regular at your local gym you must have heard the words heavy weight low reps being thrown around here and there. They are mostly used in debates such as between light weight high reps and heavy weight low reps which is better when it comes to muscle gain or something related to that. Do you know what heavy weight low reps are?
Both heavy weight low reps and light weight high reps are part of strength training exercises. They are both different in their own nature and both have their disadvantages and advantages. In addition to all that, they both have different functions when it comes to strength training. In this read, we will look to all the different dynamics of both of these types of strength training.
Basics Of Strength Training
Some of you may be new to strength training and are wondering what we mean by reps and all. Don’t worry, the team at Betterme makes sure to never leave any man behind. When it comes to most workout plans there are two common phrases you will often hear; reps and sets. Reps and sets are the basics of most strength training programs.
Repetitions or reps as they are mostly referred to are simply how many times you have to complete a movement. There are three types of repetitions. These are low reps, mid-range reps and high range reps (1). Low reps range from one to six repetitions. Mid-range reps on the other hand range from eight to twelve repetitions. High range reps are repetitions that are more than fourteen. Sets are how many times you complete a rep scheme. An example would be, if a certain exercise calls for 4 x 5 at a certain weight, you are supposed to do four sets of five reps. This means you are going to complete that exercise twenty times, with a break between each set of five.
Another important thing to consider in strength training is how much you are going to lift. Each reps scheme will have different benefits and will certainly target different muscles depending on the weight you choose to lift. When choosing the weight to lift within each rep scheme, make sure it is at a level that challenges you. This doesn’t necessarily mean that you have to work out to exhaustion in every rep scheme, but you should definitely be breaking a sweat. In lower rep schemes, you will struggle to complete your final reps. In higher rep schemes, you may not fail, but you should feel fatigued. This is because of the different muscle fibers targeted by different weights and different periods of training.
Heavy Weight Low Reps
This is the type of strength training that involves lifting heavy weights at less repetitions. People use this tactic when they want to get stronger. High weight low reps approach is usually the focus of athletes whose goal is to lift heavy weights, such as Powerlifters and Olympic Weightlifters. Lifting heavy weight for low repetitions will increase the weight that you can lift 1 time (7). This type of strength training is useful in building lean muscles. It also makes you really strong. This is why it is a highly recommended strength training exercise.
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Low Weight High Reps
This is the type of strength training that involves lifting lighter weights at more repetitions (7). This type of training is highly recommended for newbies. It is less intimidating than starting off with heavy weights. It also lets you build lean muscles and improve your performance. It is also less likely to cause injuries or strain on your muscles. It is also useful in training smaller stabilizing muscles. As if that was not enough, low weight high reps have the potential to introduce speed into strength training workouts. Velocity training, which emphasizes moving weights quickly, results in a higher power output.
This translates to improvement in performance in other athletic activities and strength training. It also improves both endurance and lean muscle composition. This is a form of strength training that works well for new exercisers, as well as experienced athletes who can benefit from a change in their routine. It is also the type of exercise you go for when you are experiencing an injury or when recovering from an injury (9). You don’t want to injure yourself again, so you ease yourself into strength training until you are okay to go back to lifting heavy weights.
Heavy Weight Low Reps Vs Low Weight High Reps In Terms Of Muscle Gain And Strength
Which of these two types of strength training do you think would result in more muscle gain as well as more strength?
A study was done in 2012 by McMaster University to answer this question for once and for all (2, 6). The researchers were investigating the training effects of light weights to heavy weights in young men. The study took a period of ten weeks. The researchers tested the effects of performing leg extensions with either light or heavy weights. Both weights were lifted to exhaustion. Lifting a weight to exhaustion means lifting it until you get to the point where you cannot go on any more.
The researchers found that both the heavy weights and light weight increased muscle size equally. What brought these similar results is the fact that both the heavy weights and the light weights were lifted to exhaustion. The difference is covered in that both have different exhaustions.
For the heavy weights, fatigue came after ten repetitions while for the light weights fatigue comes after thirty five repetitions. The many repetitions in the light weights covered the weight difference between two types of weights. This then is to say that, as long as each set is taken to muscular fatigue, the weight lifted isn’t as important as the maximal effort applied for building muscle. This is because all muscle fibers will be recruited as a load is repeatedly lifted to failure or exhaustion.
Although it was found that both types of weight were equal in building muscle, the researchers discovered that for building strength, the heavy weights produced superior results. When it comes to building strength, it is better to lift the heavy weights. This is because the heavy weights train your nervous system to be able to recruit more of your muscle cells to produce more force more quickly. This is not the case when it comes to light weights.
Heavy Weight Low Reps For Fat Loss
As we have seen above, heavy weight low reps are effective in building strength, what effect do you think they have when it comes to fat loss and weight loss?
Lifting heavy weights won’t help you lose as much weight as you would want to lose. If your ultimate goal is to lose weight only, heavy weight low reps is not the way to go. Heavy weight low reps will, however, help you maintain your muscles. Hence, all the hard work you put into getting those muscles won’t go down the drain. It will also help in losing fat. Heavy weight low reps help strip away the fat tissues on top of those muscles you worked so hard for (8).
A study was done to compare how much fat mass and muscle mass two groups would lose (3). The two groups were to be on the same diet but different workout plans. The first group was to do aerobic exercises while the other group was to lift weights. The subjects who lifted weights and the subjects who did cardio lost the same amount of weight overall. Resistance training using moderate to heavy weights gives your body a reason to hold on to muscle tissue. In the end, the weight you lose will be more fat than muscle.
Low Weight High Reps And Fat Loss
Low weight high reps should not be used for fat loss. Why is this you may ask. This is because this type of strength training does not stimulate the muscles enough for fat loss.
Heavy Weight Low Reps Vs Low Weight High Reps Final Say
As we have seen above, both these types of strength training exercises are quite beneficial. Hence none is more important than the other, it all depends on what you want. Low weight high reps are not likely to cause injuries due to the fact that they are not intense. They also come with shorter periods of recovery between workouts as well as short periods of rest between sets. On the other hand, it is hard to lose fat with low weight high reps. It also will take you a longer period of time to build your muscles. This is because you have to do so many reps. Another disadvantage of low weight high reps is that they do not improve your strength. This is quite a let down for this strength training exercise.
Heavy weight low reps on the other hand will improve your strength significantly (4). They will also improve your bone density. Another advantage of heavy weight low reps is that they cause fat loss which is quite an important aspect of them. The problems associated with heavy weight low reps is that due to their intense nature, they are likely to cause injuries. They also need a longer period of recovery for the muscle group being trained.
The Bottom Line
When people hear heavy weight low reps they think it means lifting those big heavy weights you see during the olympics. This is totally not the case, heavy weights are just any weights that will give you personally a challenge. People end up missing out on the numerous advantages associated with this kind of strength training just because of this misconception. This is, however, not to say, heavy weight low reps are a bed of roses as we have seen this exercise also has a number of disadvantages. At the end of the day you need to ask yourself what you want and if heavy weight low reps is the way to go to achieve what you want.
If you are new to strength training, it is important to ease yourself into heavy weight low reps by starting with low weights high reps. You can go on increasing the intensity slowly until you get to heavy lifting. You can do this by increasing the weight you lift by ten percent every week. It is advisable to always consult an expert before you join any new workout plan as that workout plan may not be cut out for you. An expert will direct you in the right direction.
This article is intended for general informational purposes only and does not address individual circumstances. It is not a substitute for professional advice or help and should not be relied on to make decisions of any kind. A licensed physician should be consulted for diagnosis and treatment of any medical conditions. Any action you take upon the information presented in this
- Does It Matter How Many Reps You Do When You Work Out? (2015, lifehacker.com)
- Effects of strength or aerobic training on body composition, resting metabolic rate, and peak oxygen consumption in obese dieting subjects (1997, pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov)
- High Reps or Low Reps for Fat Loss? (2017, myfitnesspal.com)
- High Reps vs Low Reps for Losing Weight (Which Is Better?) (n.d., yurielkaim.com)
- If You Want to Build Muscle and Gain Strength, Lift Lighter Weights for More Reps (n.d., mensjournal.com)
- Lifting heavy or light weights will give you different results — here’s how to know which ones to use (2019, insider.com)
- Lifting Weights to Build Lean Muscle: High vs Low Reps (2017, johnsonfitness.com)
- Weight Training 101 – High Reps or Low Reps for Fat Loss? (n.d., multiscreensite.com)
- Yes! It’s Possible to Use Lighter Weights and Still Get Stronger (2019, wellandgood.com)