When it comes to hitting the gym it seems that everyone has their own way of training and their own set of guidelines that they follow to achieve optimal results. But is there a right or wrong way to train? Is there a specific set of guidelines that you should be following to make sure that your gains are progressing as they should, and that you’re achieving the results you want without putting in more effort than necessary? When it comes to weightlifting there is one question in particular that people seem to be asking more and more these days. Should I be doing more reps with lighter weights, or less reps with heavier weights?
The Argument for More Reps
If you want to lift lighter weights then you’re going to have to do more reps to achieve physical improvement. By performing more reps you will be developing muscular endurance which equates to the amount of effort you are able to physically expel before experiencing muscle fatigue. Working out with lighter weights for more reps will increase your muscle mass and make you stronger. It also has the potential to turn your workout into a high-intensity workout which may increase your afterburn effect and burn more calories.
Hitting a progress plateau is natural and normal. No matter how much effort you put into consistent progress there will always come a time when your fitness level evens out and you stop seeing as many gains. When this happens it may seem natural to increase your weights, but increasing your reps instead and keeping the weight the same will actually help you to focus on keeping your technique in check so that when you’re ready to increase your weight you won’t have to drop your rep count.
The Argument for Heavier Weights
If you want to perform less reps but still see an increase in your overall maximum strength then you’re going to need to pile on those heavier weights. The balance between giving yourself enough of a challenge to increase your strength and not attempting to lift more than you’re capable of, can be difficult to determine. It’s important that you know, understand and abide by your limits though otherwise you could end up with serious pains or injuries.
In order to keep your muscles safe from injury, the amount of reps you perform should absolutely be reduced when you are increasing your weights. This will ensure that you do not overwork your muscles causing unnecessary and dangerous fatigue. It will also force your muscles to work more efficiently because your focus will be on staying tight and in control. While this way of lifting will increase your strength it may not be the best option if you are seeking increased definition to your body composition.
How You Should Be Doing It
When it comes to this fitness debate about whether you should be performing fewer reps with heavier weights or more reps with lighter weights, the answer doesn’t necessarily lie on one side or the other. Although if your only goal is to get stronger then you can simply choose one or the other to perform. The best way to achieve optimal results though lies in switching up your routine to include both of these techniques on differing days.
When you use both of these techniques in your workout routines you will want to make sure that you are pushing your muscles to the brink without over extending your capabilities. Whether that means striving for greater reps on your low weight days, or a heavier weight on your low rep days. This will ensure that your strength and efficiency are both improving.
By incorporating a combination of these two workouts into your regular routine you should notice an improvement in your form, strength and body composition that simply adding one or the other will not provide.
No matter how you choose to train always keep in mind that your nutrition accounts for nearly 80% of your total fitness, so be sure to pack your meal prep bag full of healthy food and supplements to keep your dietary health on track.