It is agreed upon that you need strength/resistance training for most of your goals (fat loss or muscle gain) where we split is between lifting heavy weights vs light weights.
Both factions have some dedicated Gym bros and they all claim their side is better. But fear not we are here to give a clearer perspective backed by research and facts to help you know which is “better”.
What is lifting: heavy weights vs light weights ?
Heavy and light are in perspective. What is heavy for the Donkey is light for a 4-ton adult Elephant.
Have you ever seen a random gym bro use your PR for a warmup set? I’m sure you have.
Lifting heavy means the weight is 80-90 per cent of your 1 rep max, and lifting light means the weight is between 20-30 per cent of your 1 rep max.
1 rep max means the maximal weight you can lift for one full repetition, it is advisable to have a trainer help you discern it.
Benefits of lifting: heavyweight vs lightweight
Apart from the general benefits of resistance training or weight lifting, here are a few particular benefits of lifting heavy weights vs light weights.
Progressive overload is the only way for growth, be it, Muscular strength, size, definition or endurance.
This means increasing either,
- The number sets
- Number of reps
- The weights
Make sure you are not stagnant.
Lifting heavy weights 2-5 reps for 5 sets has been proven to be the fastest way to increase your muscular strength (this is a form of progressive overload).
This is because you use more (type ii fibers) group of muscles for heavy lifting and it promotes brain-muscle coordination.
Your bone density and strength also increases making you less likely to break your leg in a UFC fight.
Speaking of strength, are you strong? Can you bench x 1.5 of your body weight or squat x 2 of your body weight?
Lifting heavy will make you strong but you might not look it.
Muscle Fatigue and micro-trauma happens faster with heavy lifting, which is the key factor for growth.
Lifting light weights can also build muscular strength only if you train till failure. but let’s drop the BS we mostly use lightweight when we feel tired, lazy or just one of those days.
It takes far more reps and more time for fatigue and micro trauma to be achieved making progressive overload difficult and painful.
Muscular size and definition
Hypertrophy is achieved at 8-20 reps. For increased muscular size, lifting light is the answer because
- The number of reps needed for hypertrophy can be reached.
- You can focus on the form and technique; completely isolating the group of muscle you are training.
Lifting light will make you look big and strong i.e. the “swole” feeling.
When you lift heavy you only lift between 2-5 reps which is a good trigger for strength not size (muscular.)
“Light weight baby” is best suited for endurance, why? your training helps your body gets rid of lactic acid more effectively and helps you last longer.
High reps give you that feeling of cardio i.e. increased heart rate and helps your body utilize oxygen effectively.
Heavy weight builds endurance but not as much as light weights.
Lifting: heavy weights vs light weights Effect on fat loss.
Heavy weight gives you that poison after-effect i.e. after a workout your body uses-up extra calories to heal the microtrauma and tears resulting in an increase of your total daily energy expenditure.
Light weight is a bit different, it helps when you don’t have enough energy to lift heavy but still want to workout and burn calories here are examples of when you should lift light,
- When recovering from an injury
- After a previous day of heavy workout
- When doing cardio before lifting this is because you will have very little energy left
- If you are in Calorie deficit.
With light weights, you can tap into fat as a source of fuel which is suited for slow, light or long-duration exercise
Lifting: heavy weights vs light weights? The answer is lifting heavy weights and light weights.
It is crucial to have optimal fitness. Have different days for both. you should alternate between them, going light on days when your body still feels sore from the previous workout.
Don’t pick a faction instead go for action for this is the path to your goals wheymen.