One of the more common questions about lifting weights is whether you should do heavier weight or more repetitions. When it comes to lifting weights, the answer depends on your goals for your physique. A combination of the two philosophies provides a well-rounded approach to a fitness plan.
Weightlifting is generally low impact and offers a variety of benefits. If you have never lifted weights before, you should work with a fitness professional to ensure you are using proper form. One of our physical therapists can evaluate your fitness level and assess any injuries or conditions that need to be addressed. With their help, you can be ensured of a safe, effective workout tailored to you.
In addition to helping with fat loss and strength gains, lifting weight can help you burn more calories, improve bone density, and lower the risk of chronic disease. Strength training is good for overall health and well-being.
Benefits of Lifting Heavier Weights
If you are looking for muscle growth and improved strength, consider lifting heavier weight. Choose a weight that brings you to fatigue by the last rep. Complete one to three sets. Rest 30 to 90 seconds between sets if your goal is to build muscle size. If your goal is strength and power, rest between 2 and 5 minutes.
Perform the following number of repetitions based on your goals:
- Increasing Strength: 1-6 reps
- Building Muscle: 8-12
Lifting the heavier weight is a very efficient way to work out. You will be challenged with fewer repetitions and less time. You will still have the advantage of a higher calorie burn and muscle growth.
Be careful to not sacrifice proper form to lift more weight. Doing so sets you up for potential injury and doesn’t work the muscles as intended. More is not always better. The proper weight-lifting technique is key to getting the most value out of your exercise program and decreasing the chance of injury.
If you are dealing with chronic stress and fatigue, lifting heavy weights can possibly exacerbate the problem. Pushing your body to maximum capacity during these times may be more stress than your body needs. Listen to your body and your doctors for when you should lighten the load.
Benefits of Completing More Repetitions
You can improve your endurance while still building muscle by lifting lighter weights for more repetitions. A little different from cardiovascular endurance, muscular endurance is the ability to keep your muscles moving under load (weight).
To build endurance, focus on being able to complete 15 or more repetitions. More repetitions will require lifting less weight. Complete three sets with a short rest period of 30 seconds between them.
Lighter weights are useful to perfect your form and technique before moving to heavier loads. You will also be able to move your joints through a greater range of motion with less load.
General Advice for Your Workout Plan
Overnight results won’t happen, but you should see positive change within about three weeks. The key is to be consistent. If you don’t see any results after three weeks, re-evaluate what you are doing – the exercises, the weights, the reps, and the frequency.
Additional tips to reach your fitness goals include the following:
- If you have been lifting heavy weights, change up and use lighter with more reps on occasion (and vice versa) to provide the muscles with a broad range of challenges.
- Aim for two to three weekly strength training sessions weekly (20-30 minutes each).
- Changing your routine can also help you avoid the plateau where your body stops making progress.
- Include 150 minutes of moderate to high-intensity cardio activity weekly.
- Work with a professional to avoid overtraining or undertraining.
There is a distinct difference between “challenge” and “pain.” Being challenged is generally good for your body and brain, but you should not continue if you feel pain. Rest the affected area. If you don’t notice an improvement, see your doctor.
Support Better Health by Lifting Weights
Strength training is often seen as a way to achieve a certain look, yet it is so much more than that. Lifting weights improves strength, stimulates your brain, reduces the chance of chronic disease, and fends off anxiety and depression.
If you are deconditioned, recovering from surgery or injury, or living with a chronic medical condition, schedule an appointment with one of our physical therapists before you begin any exercise program. Call (732) 812-5200. The first consultation is free. Our four convenient New Jersey locations are Aberdeen, East Brunswick, Edison, and Old Bridge.