Lifting Lighter Weights Can Also Build Muscle

If you want to build muscle, you may have assumed you need to lift the heaviest weights you can handle. It’s long been thought of as a rule of thumb, but performance science has found that it’s not always true. Lighter weights can build muscle just as effectively, as long you lift until the point of fatigue. We point this out because many people don’t like lifting heavy weights. You may find them unpleasant (like if you have joint issues), or you may feel nervous about getting injured. All of this can discourage you from sticking with your strength training program in the long run.

  • Research shows that lighter weights can build muscle strength and size as effectively as heavier weights.

  • The key is to complete enough reps for your muscles to get fatigued, as many as 25. Muscle gains are driven by the total work volume you complete: reps times weight.

  • Your final lift should feel like an eight on a scale of one to 10. You should feel some discomfort, but not pain.

  • Note that one approach isn’t better than the other. Some people benefit from heavier weights, others do better with lighter ones.

The bottom line is that the effort you put in matters most. If you have questions about how to implement this approach in your exercise program, reach out to your Apeiron Life expert.

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