Lifting heavy vs. Lifting light…the great debate

I’ve been doing some research on this topic, as I’ve always heard, “Light weights, more reps is more effective for weight loss, as opposed to lifting heavy weight, less reps builds more muscle and you’ll gain weight.” Now, I’m no expert on this subject, hence, the research.

The reason that this subject is a hot point, is because of fitness plateau. You’ll hear people say, “I’ve reached a plateau in my workout, where, no matter what I do, I can’t seem to cut weight.” Plateauing is a fancy term that basically means your body is complacent in the workout you’re doing. It happens more than you think.  I remember hearing our fitness instructor at the school say something along the lines of changing things up, so we don’t get stuck in no-man’s land. It made perfect sense. If you’re working out, and you’re stuck in no-man’s land, change it up!

Lifting heavy (1-5 reps) is great, but, eventually you’ll get to a point that you’re lifting so much weight, you could subconsciously adjust your form, and could cause injury. Lifting lighter weight with more reps (10-15) will actually INCREASE your strength, in a different way, while not messing up your form! Your strength comes in the form of endurance, or the ability to continue the exercise while not being fatigued. Also known as stamina!

Which brings us to the next question: how many pounds should I do 10-15 reps? Well, that’s a question only you can answer. Start with a lighter weight, and do the movement 10-15 times. If it’s too easy, increase it to the next increment, for example, if you did 15 pounds with ease, move it up to 20 pounds and then do that 10-15 times. If that’s a little more difficult, stay at that weight. When you get to the point that 3 sets of 10-15 is easy, crank it to 15-20 reps. You won’t compromise your form and you’ll still be building strength.

Lifting heavier weight burns more body fat than lifting light weight. The heavier you lift, the more calories you burn. It’s simple really: More exertion = more calories burned. Think of it this way: If you’re a runner, and you want to burn more calories, you would increase your pace, as opposed to maintaining a certain pace.  Many fat-burning hormones are discharged that continue burning fat eight hours after your workout. Light weights convert slow-twitch fibers, which only continue burning fat for an hour after your workout.

Lifting heavier weights at less repetitions results in a shorter work-out. You’re achieving metabolic burn and fatigue quicker because of increased exertion. It builds more muscle than a longer workout. A good workout should be between 45 minutes to an hour, but even that’s somewhat debatable. The more muscle mass you have, the more your metabolism is increased. Muscle burns more calories than fat. I increase the weight amount with each set, or, if I’m struggling at a certain weight, I’ll stay at that weight until my 4th set, which is what I call my heavy set, and I do between 3-5 reps.

You have to be safety-minded when working with heavier weights. Bend at the knees when picking up the weight. Use machines whenever possible, so you’re not putting unnecessary stress on your back and shoulders.

Whatever side of the fence you’re on, know that you’re building strength either way. You’re still putting in the work; but, keep in mind it will take you longer to get to your fitness goals if you’re lifting light! Whichever path you choose, know that I’m proud of you! I’m proud that you’ve taken a huge step out of your comfort zone to become stronger, fit and feeling better!

 

Which way do you lean, heavy weight/less reps, or lighter weights/more reps?

Rog

Husband, father to 3 kids, papa to 2 grand kids. I love rock music (mostly), travel and social media. I am a VA, & a Social Media Marketing Manager. I just recently jumped into the world that is blogging. I look forward to interacting with you!

30 thoughts on “Lifting heavy vs. Lifting light…the great debate

  • August 11, 2017 at 2:01 pm
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    I typically alternate between heavy and lighter lifting. That way I can get the benefit of both. Thanks for the great information!

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    • August 11, 2017 at 2:03 pm
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      Variety is the spice of life! I typically start my first set light, with about 15 reps. It really gets the muscles good and warmed up for what’s to come! Thank you for your great response!

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  • August 11, 2017 at 2:14 pm
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    Thanks for the info. I switch things up for just this reason.

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    • August 11, 2017 at 2:16 pm
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      Sometimes people get complacent in the gym, then wonder why they’re not losing weight/inches. Diversity is key! Glad you enjoyed my post!

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  • August 11, 2017 at 3:36 pm
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    This is very interesting information. Diversity is certainly key when training with weights. Thanks for sharing these amazing tips!

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    • August 11, 2017 at 3:37 pm
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      It has been on my mind for a while, and I had the time to post about it, while doing a little research. Yes, diversity is definitely key, and I hope if people put forth the effort, they’ll remember to mix things up after a while, so they don’t give up!

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  • August 11, 2017 at 4:51 pm
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    I like lighter weights with more reps as my muscles feel like they are working the way the should rather than in an override mode. Really appreciate the helpful information; will really help those trying to lose weight. I like that you added the fitness plateau in there as I think all of us have struggled with it.

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    • August 11, 2017 at 5:03 pm
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      I like your perspective on lifting with lighter weights! I can’t think of anyone who hasn’t struggled with plateauing. Thank you for your well thought out comments!

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  • August 11, 2017 at 6:55 pm
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    I start with light weight and then test my strength after a couple of weeks and go for heavier with fewer reps. But, I do mix both since I do not want to increase the weight so much that I start looking bulky.

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    • August 11, 2017 at 7:17 pm
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      I can totally relate to that! I want muscle definition as well as strength

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  • August 11, 2017 at 7:11 pm
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    This seems kind of like the difference between short sprints and distance running! They both have some really good benefits!

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  • August 11, 2017 at 8:18 pm
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    I have been wanting to up my fitness routine by adding weights. I want to try light weights. I have never thought of what the different effect light vs heavy weights would have. Thanks for the great post.

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    • August 11, 2017 at 8:33 pm
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      You’re welcome, Claudia! I hope it gave you some insight, ideas and options!

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    • August 11, 2017 at 8:32 pm
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      Do you have physical reasons why you can’t lift? I’m sorry you can’t. You’re really missing out!

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  • August 11, 2017 at 8:45 pm
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    I asked the hubby & he said he alternates depending on what his goal is for that workout. Great convo/topic. Now the hubby is telling me all about weightlifting lol

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    • August 11, 2017 at 8:46 pm
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      If you’re not lifting with him, it kinda makes you want to, doesn’t it?

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  • August 11, 2017 at 9:29 pm
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    I need to start. Starting is the hardest part! Then I Will probably be into light lifting until I learn the ropes!

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    • August 11, 2017 at 9:38 pm
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      The first step is the hardest! But once you start, don’t give up! You’ll be sore, but that’s what you want!

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  • August 11, 2017 at 9:34 pm
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    Given that I’m not lifting, I can’t add anything of value to this conversation other than, I know that I would probably end up lifting light because I imagine the worst with lifting heavy items above my head or trying to curl with them. I can stay focused longer with lighter weights, and that way I will feel as if I’m making progress.

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    • August 11, 2017 at 9:37 pm
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      That’s great thinking! Working on form and balance is crucial, and those can be practiced with lower weight. I can totally understand the fear of weights over your head!

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  • August 11, 2017 at 10:23 pm
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    My husband def is a heavy weights normal reps kind of guy. He has really lean muscle and is all natural so not really bulky.

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    • August 11, 2017 at 10:24 pm
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      Lean is what I’m working towards! I’d like to pick his brain for extra workout tips!

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  • August 12, 2017 at 6:08 pm
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    I lean more towards lighter weights more reps, yet muscles adapt very easily. So I’ll shake things up every few months a do 2 weeks of higher weigh low reps to reawaken the muscle so to say.

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  • August 19, 2017 at 10:19 am
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    I can’t lift heavy weights because of my bad back. So it’s lighter weights/more reps for me.

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    • August 20, 2017 at 1:10 pm
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      Movement is movement! You’re still going to get strong, as per what my post said 🙂

      Reply

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