Want results from your workouts?
Add more weight!
For years only a handful of dedicated fitness enthusiasts have practiced a sure-fire method of achieving results from exercise: lifting weights with the heaviest loads possible.
Most common gym routines are derived from the bodybuilding world and focus on moderate-to-high repetition ranges, usually 8-15 reps, to increase the size of a muscle. Serious strength-training enthusiasts know that lifting heavy for five repetitions or less, while extremely challenging, can increase muscle strength without necessarily increasing size. Want to learn a little more about strength? CLICK HERE
There is a distinct difference between training for muscle size – technically called hypertrophy, and training for strength – increasing a muscle’s ability to generate force. Here’s the interesting thing, lifting heavy can improve the force output of a muscle without significantly increasing its size whereas training for size can increase muscle volume without necessarily improving strength. Lifting with high repetitions can increase the sarcoplasmic hypertrophy of a muscle by increasing the amount of fluid in the sarcoplasm of muscle cells. However, using a heavy weight for fewer repetitions results in myofibrillar hypertrophy by increasing the thickness of individual muscle fibers. Sarcoplasmic hypertrophy increases the size of a muscle while myofibrillar hypertrophy results in thicker muscle fibers capable of generating higher levels of force.
The bottom line:
Lifting heavy can make you STRONG, but not necessarily big!
If you are looking for a way to change your workouts or move past a plateau, consider using a weight heavy enough to limit you to five repetitions or less. WARNING: Using heavier weights requires using machines or a spotter to maximize safety. In addition, when lifting with maximal loads it’s important to allow for longer rest periods of at least two-to-three minutes to allow muscles to properly recovery before going back to work. NOTE: to save time, you can do a lower body exercise while your upper body muscles are working and vice-versa, but when you’re lifting heavy, your muscles need a little more time to refuel between sets.
Here are 7 benefits of how lifting heavy weights can optimize the results from your fitness program.
- Muscles generate force – that’s just what they do. Newton’s 2nd Law of physics is F = ma; a force is the produce of a mass and its acceleration. To train muscles to become stronger requires either adding more mass or moving with a faster acceleration. Using heavier weights recruits more muscle fibers; moving at a faster rate of speed teaches them to contract faster.
- Training for muscle strength is different than training for muscle size. Lifting heavy for six-to-ten weeks can increase the strength of a muscle, if it is followed by a six-to-ten week phase of hypertrophy (bodybuilder) training you can use heavier weights for the higher rep ranges which could result in significant size increases.
- Using heavy weights increases intramuscular coordination, the number of type II motor unit units and muscle fibers engaged within a specific muscle. Have you ever felt yourself shaking with lifting heavy? This is because you are literally recruiting and activating the larger type II muscle fibers which are only stimulated to work when a muscle is challenged with heavy resistance or working to fatigue.
- Using maximal loads for compound (multi-joint) movements like the deadlift, squat-to-shoulder press, bent-over row or chest press can improve inter-muscular coordination, the ability of many muscles to work together to generate and control high levels of force through multiple joints.
- Elevate levels of anabolic hormones, specifically testosterone, growth hormone and insulin-like growth factor (IGF-1), used to repair muscle fibers damaged during exercise helping them to become thicker and capable of generating higher levels of force.
- Lifting heavy weights increases the hormone IGF-1 which is related to the production of Brain-derived Neurotrophic Factor (BDNF) a protein responsible for stimulating the growth of new neural pathways in the brain along with enhancing communication between existing pathways. In short lifting heavy could make you smarter by enhancing cognitive function.
- Training with heavy weights helps you to improve your self-confidence. Knowing that you can lift heavy stuff gives you the confidence that you can handle common challenges such as a putting a bag in the overhead bin on an airplane, carrying a heavy piece of furniture while reorganizing a room or helping a friend move.
- Strength training with heavy weights can help improve muscle definition. Muscle definition occurs as the result of muscles remaining in a state of semi-contraction and heavy strength training recruits the larger type-II muscle fibers responsible for a muscle’s appearance.
All exercise provides general health benefits but resistance training with heavy weights is one of the quickest ways to achieve the benefits identified above. Pick a weight that will be challenging for 4-6 reps – if you can do more than 6, ADD MORE WEIGHT! The last rep should be very hard-to-difficult but does not need to go to failure.
This Kettlebell program can help with both strength and power – #winwin
Keep in mind that according to the General Adaptation Syndrome the body adapts to an exercise stimulus after a period of twelve-to-fourteen weeks or so, meaning that once you start training with maximal weights you will experience serious gains but after three or four months you will need to change your training routine to provide a new stimulus to your body.
To learn more about how exercise changes your body and to learn strength training programs that can help you get the results you want, pick up a copy of Smarter Workouts: The Science of Exercise Made Simple