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!