The simple act of lifting weights is fraught with numerous choices that have a bearing on what you want to achieve.

You might opt for a low number of reps (repetitions) with a heavier weight or a high number of reps with lower weight. Both have benefits and knowing a bit more about what they are will help you with achieving your goals quicker.

Neoprene Dumbbells 0.5 to 10 kgHigh reps, low weight

High reps is usually 15+ with a lower weight. A good rule of thumb is 50 to 60% of your one rep max i.e. the maximum of what you can lift in one movement.

A high-rep/lighter-weight workout activates Type 1 muscle fibre: so called “slow twitch” muscle. They have less power than Type 2 but are endurance-based and much slower to fatigue.

When you lift lighter weights for more reps, you’re still gaining strength, just a different kind—muscular endurance. The longer, high-intensity workouts also burn more calories, help melt fat for a more toned appearance.

Low reps, high weight

Lifting heavier weights and increase the amount of weight over time will build Type 2 muscle mass for men and women.

Type 2 or “fast twitch” muscle fibres, which are important in developing strength and promoting hypertrophy (muscle growth along with an increase in the size of muscle cells).

The downside is they also fatigue quickly—and muscle fibre stimulation correlates with how long they are under resistance. If they aren’t under tension long enough, they won’t be able to promote hypertrophy (muscle growth) as effectively.

Some  people have found success with a more moderate approach (8-12 reps at 70-75% of your one-rep max). This allows you to lift enough weight to build strength and power, while also being able to extend the length of your set.

Mixed approach

Alternating between the two may be the best approach for long-term success.

  • Lifting heavy weights builds muscle, but constantly upping the weight exhausts the body. Lifting lighter weights with more reps gives the muscle tissue and nervous system a chance to recover while also building endurance.
  • If you follow the same fitness program over a period of time, you will eventually hit the dreaded “plateau.” When your mind and body have adapted to the routine, it is no longer challenging and you stop making progress. Changing things up gives your body and nervous system the kick they need to start progressing again.
  • Eventually, you’ll hit a point where you can’t lift any more weight, or can’t lift the weight long enough to be effective. This can cause your form to break down, putting you at greater risk for injury. Switching to high rep/low weight for a time will allow you to continue making progress, concentrate on your form, and build up endurance so you can hit those heavy weights again.

It’s important to remember that there are many factors that go into building muscle mass, apart from the workouts you perform. Diet, genetics, metabolic rate, hormone levels, body type, and even your individual muscle fibre composition all contribute.

If in doubt, seek the advice of a personal trainer.

We have numerous Strength and muscle building products available such as Neoprene Dumbbells Weights – 0.5 to 10 kg and Rubber coated cast iron hex dumbbells

For more information visit this page: Building muscle mass – more weight or more reps

Photo by Karolina Grabowska from Pexels

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