Anyone who wants to increase their lean body mass may have asked “Do I need to lift heavy weights to build muscle mass?”
Most people have heard that building muscle mass requires lifting heavy weights. Bodybuilders struggle to lift increasingly heavy weights until they are exhausted. Weight lifting and bodybuilding in general are not for the faint of heart.
Most trainers and fitness experts tell their students that lifting heavy weights with low repetitions is necessary for building muscle mass. Recent studies, however, have shown this advice is questionable at best. McMaster’s University researchers discovered it is possible to build muscle by lifting much lighter weights. Specifically, this means lifting weights at least 30% lighter than you are able to lift.
When you use a lighter weight, you will need to lift it for a longer time. The key is to completely fatigue the muscles until you cannot lift one more time. According to the study, that will help you toward your goal of achieving muscle mass.
People who fear injury from heavy weight lifting will find this good news because they will be able to build body mass without injury. People who have physical problems will also find this a helpful alternative since lifting heavy weights may be risky for them.
Further studies are needed to confirm the initial findings, but at present it appears that fatiguing the muscles is key to building muscle mass. It is not really dependent on the size or heaviness of the weights you lift.
The ideal in building muscle mass is to challenge the muscles in various ways so they do not stop growing or learn to adapt to the minimum exercise required of them. Even those who regularly lift heavy weights sometimes do workouts with lighter weights and high repetitions in order to fatigue the muscles. If 30% of what they are able to lift is too light, they may decide to do 50% and continue until the muscles are fatigued. That is one way to avoid hitting a plateau in muscle building.
Bodybuilders can devise a plan to alternate between two weeks of lifting heavy weights and then a week of using light weights to shock the muscles into stimulating growth.
Next time you ask yourself “Do I need to lift heavy weights to build muscle?”, remember you can alternate heavy lifting with lighter weights and high repetitions to maximize building muscle mass and reaching your goal.