One of the most important questions in the field of bodybuilding is that, what is the difference between training with heavy weights vs light weights? Well, myriad of answers are available on the web, yet it is not clear to many peoples. That’s why I’m going to share my own experience; opinion of bodybuilders and the scientific studies on lifting heavy weight vs lifting light weight that can help you in your training.
From increasing strength to gain muscle mass, weightlifting has a plethora of benefits. So, you’ll also see the benefits of light weights and heavy weights training.
So, read till the end and then decide, which one is good for you; either heavy weights or light weights according to your fitness goal.
You’ll see in this article,
- Heavy Weights vs Light Weights – My experienced
- The Opinion of the Bodybuilders About Heavy Weights vs Light Weights
- Studies and Research on Light weights vs Heavy weights Training
- A Brief summary of the Benefits & Disadvantages of Light and Heavyweights
1. Heavy Weights vs Light Weights – My experienced
I’ve been lifting weight for the last 2 and a half years. And before that, I used to do bodyweight workouts at home. When I joined the gym, I was lean and wanted to grow my muscles.
As I have already done the bodyweight exercises at home, so I started lifting the weight from the very first day. It wasn’t easy at all. I feel the pain and sores for the first week of training.
Usually, I trained with light to moderate weights for the first couple of months but there wasn’t much improvement in my physique.
As my goal was to gain muscles, so I slowly started increasing weight. However, with heavyweights, I wouldn’t be able to perform more reps and sets.
When I was training with lightweight dumbbells or barbells, I was able to complete 10-12 reps each set. But with heavyweights, completing 5 to 6 reps was difficult in the beginning.
However, I still decided to continue lifting heavy weights for the next few months.
Result and Verdict
After a couple of months, I saw the improvement I wanted to see. Not only my muscles grew but I was also able to perform more reps and sets.
Related: 6 Day Gym Workout Schedule With PDF
The body transformation in me was fascinating. It was even unbelievable for me to get muscular and stronger in a very short period.
I gained approximately 10 pounds in just 3 months without a special diet.
I can surely say, lifting heavy weights promotes muscles growth faster than lifting light weights.
6-8 reps with heavy weights dumbbells and barbells are more effective than 10-12 reps with light weights dumbbells and barbells. (Related: Dumbbells Vs Barbell)
Lifting heavy weights made me feel more powerful, improved my overall strength, and helped me gain muscle mass.
Working out with light weights isn’t bad but the progress will be slow and your muscles will take time to grow.
If you don’t want to increase muscle mass, then lifting light weights is the best option for you.
I would say try mixing both light weights and heavy weights workouts in your training, as this will help you increase your strength and muscle mass.
Also, See: What’s The Best Time To Workout?
Bodybuilders Opinion About Light Weights vs Heavy Weights
Arnold Schwarzenegger says, to gain muscles you should use heavy weights and low reps set. He says choosing the right load is as important as choosing the right exercise.
He used to do a minimum of 6 reps and a maximum of 14 reps with heavier loads instead of 20-40 reps with lighter loads.
Ronnie Coleman, eight-time Mr. Olympia says, bodybuilding is about not quantity, it’s about quality.
Whether you lift heavier weights or lighter weights, whether you do 5 reps or 15 reps; you should continue doing until you feeling a good full pump in your muscle.
If you don’t feel the good pump in the muscles even after 15 reps then that won’t be effective. The rule of muscle growth is to select the right exercise and train harder until you feel the good full pump in the muscle.
Former Mr. Olmpia Dexter “The Blade,” Jackson says, bodybuilding is all about the muscles gains and intense muscular contractions i.e achieving a good full pump in the muscles. It’s not just about lifting a heavier weight or lighters weights.
“If you want to increase muscles gain and build a solid foundation; you need to lift heavy weights but after a certain point, you have to be smart with your training. – he further said”
Dex now used to work out with machines and lifts lightweight because he wants to avoid injuries. He does his proper training with lighter weights and still maintains his size.
He feels there’s no reason to lift heavier weights like other bodybuilders who are now paying the price for the continuous long-term harm to their bodies.
All three of them are the best…Ultimately they suggest, lifting heavy weight and light weight both are good if you know how to manage according to your physique & fitness goals.
Studies on Heavy Training With weight vs Light weight
The traditional concept of bodybuilding or muscles building says that the heavier weights you lift the more muscles grow.
However, modern studies are challenging the traditional concept of bodybuilding.
Let’s take a look at the modern studies on Light weights vs Heavy weights workouts:
Light Weight vs Heavy Weight Training – Study 1
In a study published by the Journal of Applied Physiology, a group of 18 men whose ages 20 to 25 were selected for the study. The duration of the study was 10 weeks, 3 times a week.
Those men who had been selected for the study have never lifted weights before. They had been selected for three different programs that required them to complete as many repetitions as possible with machines and dumbbells.
Half of the men were assigned to lift light weights and half of them were selected for lifting heavyweights.
Those who were assigned to lift heavy weights did 8 to 12 reps and those who were selected to work out with light weights did 25 to 30 reps.
Half of the men were assigned to lift light weights & half of them were selected for lifting heavyweights. Those who were assigned to lift heavy weights did 8 to 12 reps and those who were selected to work out with light weights did 25 to 30 reps.
The study showed that there was no difference in the result of lightweights and heavyweights.
Doing more repetitions using lighter weights is just as effective as doing fewer repetitions with heavier weights with the exception; that one has to lift the weight until he wouldn’t be able to finish his last rep. 1Resistance exercise load does not determine training-mediated hypertrophic gains in young men– Journal of Applied Physiology
However, they were untrained men, and the training period was just 10 weeks. So, more extensive research should be done to verify the effectiveness of lightweights and heavyweights.
Heavy weights vs Light Weights Bodybuilding – Study 2
In one more study published in 2016 by the Journal of Applied Physiology; a total of 49 men were selected for the study whose ages were between 20 to 30.
The duration of the study was 12 weeks, 4 days/wk (Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, and Friday). Those who had been selected for the study were resistance-trained men. They had been selected for a full-body workout.
24 of them were assigned to lift light weights & 25 of them were selected for lifting heavyweights. Those who were assigned to lift lighter weights did 25 to 30 reps with 30-50% of their maximal strength; while those who were selected to work out with heavier weights did 8 to 12 repetitions/set with 75-90% of their maximal strength.
The increases in muscular strength were not significantly different between lightweights and heavyweights. The increases in muscular growth were also not much difference between both groups.
The study proved that doing more repetitions using lighter weights is just as effective as doing fewer repetitions with heavier weights; with the exception; that one has to lift the weight until he wouldn’t be able to finish his last rep (i.e. until he totally fatigue and has no power left to do even one rep). 2Neither load nor systemic hormones determine resistance training-mediated hypertrophy or strength gains in resistance-trained young men– Journal of Applied Physiology
Benefits of Lifting Light weights
Here we take a look at the benefits of doing the workout with light weights:
1. Lifting light weights improve muscles endurance
One of the important benefits of lifting light weights is that it improves muscles endurance. Muscles endurance is the ability to lift ideal weights consistently for a longer time. Good muscles endurance helps you perform higher repetitions and longer training sessions.
2. Lifting Light Weights Reduces The Chances Of Injuries
Working out with the lighter weights reduces the chances of injuries compared to lifting heavier weights.
Increasing muscles mass with light weights training may take some extra time but you’ll be feeling safe as it lessens and prevents injuries and chances of injuries.
3. Light Weights Allow A Better Range of Motion
One of the major benefits of lifting light weights is that they allow a better range of motion as compare to heavier weights.
The great range of motion helps you target the muscles specifically. Muscle growth increases when you create more tension on the muscles you want to build.
4. Lifting Light Weights Help You Maintain Size
As I mentioned earlier, former Mr. Olympia Dexter Jackson, used to train wight lighter weights because he doesn’t want to damage muscles by lifting heavier weights.
He used to work out with resistance machines and light dumbells and barbells just to maintain his size.
So if you have already built muscles then don’t push it hard by lifting heavier loads. Maintain your size, stamina, and muscles endurance with lighter weights training.
Benefits Of Lifting Heavy Weights
We’ll see all the important benefits of doing the workout with heavier weights. But before that, here we take a look at are some drawbacks of lifting heavier weights such as; high chances of injuries, muscles soreness, poor range of motion, and may affect muscles in the long run.
1. Lifting Heavy Weights Promote Muscle Growth
An old saying is that “lift heavy and gain more” and this is practically true to some extent. Lifting heavier weights helps you grow your muscles faster.
Heavier weights engage more type II muscles fibers which are responsible for creating muscles force. Type II muscles fibers help increase muscle mass. So when you lift heavy weights, you allow your muscles to grow.
2. Heavy Weight Training Makes You Stronger
Working out with heavier weights makes you stronger and powerful. They also increase your lifting, pulling, and pushing strength that will help you in your daily life activities when you need to lift or push or pull heavier stuff.
3. Training with Heavy Weights Improved Muscle Cordination
Training with heavier weights improves and strengthens the coordination between muscles and joints.
Good coordination between muscles and joints prevents injuries. Lifting heavy weights also strengthens your bones and connective tissues.
4. Lifting Heavier Weight Burn Calories Even After Training
All exercises burn calories but not every workout helps you burn calories after the workout. Heavyweights training is one of the workouts that help you burn calories even after a couple of hours of the workout.
When you do the workout with heavier weights, you need more and energy; as a result, your body continues using more calories even after the workout.
Heavy weights vs Light Weight : Which One is Good For You?
Muscle growth is based on the optimization of three factors such as mechanical tension, metabolic stress, and muscle damage.
You can optimize mechanical tension by doing 2-6 reps with 90-100% of maximum strength with a resting time of 2-5 Minutes between Sets.
You can optimize metabolic stress you need to do 8-12 reps with 70-80% of maximum strength with a resting time of 1-2 minutes between Sets.
The last one, muscles damage can be optimized by doing supersets or drop sets with lighter weights.
Lifting heavy weights and light weights both are good if you know how to manage according to your physique and fitness goals.
Every rep helps you increase muscles strength and muscles growth. All you need to focus on is the quality of your training. I would say, mix all forms of the workout in your training such as body weight, machine weight, and free weights.
- 1Resistance exercise load does not determine training-mediated hypertrophic gains in young men– Journal of Applied Physiology