The Secret to Stronger Muscles

One look at Olympic weight-lifters shows that the heavier the weights, the stronger the weight lift, right? Although there’s definitely some truth to this conventional workout wisdom, a new position paper published in the journalApplied Physiology, Nutrition, and Metabolism argues that there’s more to the story.

Weight training with less weight but more repetition may be as effective for building muscle as lifting heavier weights for fewer repetitions, said researchers at McMaster University in Ontario. The key to muscle gain, researchers say, is working the muscles to the point of fatigue, no matter the weight size. They want you to feel the burn.

The authors of the paper conducted a series of experiments to measure how muscles react to different forms of training. They found, not surprisingly, that high-intensity muscle contractions from lifting heavy weights produced muscle development. But when volunteers performed resistance training with smaller weights until they reached muscle fatigue, identical muscle development was formed. The higher repetitions also helped sustain the muscle-building response in the days following the workout.

This means you can continue using 3-pound hand weights for bicep curls if you want. But if you want to see a bigger, stronger bicep, you must keep up the curls until you have to fight to pull up the weight each time. (For a woman who works out regularly, this could means scores of repetitions.)

No matter how you chose to get there, the key to seeing a real benefit from strength training is using enough weight to challenge yourself, and repeating the exercises enough times that your muscles reach fatigue. As you get stronger, remember to switch to progressively heavier weights to keep on feeling the burn.

If you enjoyed this post, please consider to leave a comment or subscribe to the feed and get future articles delivered to your feed reader.


No comments yet.

Sorry, the comment form is closed at this time.