One of the MOST POPULAR questions I receive, in the form of: “if I want to “tone”, should I lift heavy or light weight” or a combination of other buzz words. Let me set the record straight. You should be using appropriate weight for the workout. What does that mean? Let’s discuss
Let’s take bicep day as an example. One week you are doing 3 sets of 10 alternating dumbbell curls as your first exercise. You use 20lbs in each hand. Go you. The next week on bicep day, you have 4 sets of 15 alternating dumbbells curls as your last exercises. You have to “drop” the weight to 15lbs. Does this mean it is light weight? NO. It means FOR THE WORKOUT and WHERE THE EXERCISE IS PLACED IN THE WORKOUT, the weight is appropriate.
MACHINES can vary from gym to gym. Hell, there are two cable machines at our gym that I swear have different weight stacks even though they are listed as the same weight. Your body CANNOT read the weight you are using. Your body only knows the stress you are putting yourself under and if that stress is great enough to force your body to grow, it will.
Form vs Ego
I cannot emphasize this enough, NO ONE cares what weight you are using in the gym. I can count on 0 fingers how many times I have 1- noticed what weight people are using and 2- cared. You THINK people care, they don’t. So what ends up happening? You start ego lifting and your form goes out the window. And so does your ACL. Wow, thank goodness you used a weight that was too heavy to impress people that weren’t watching you to begin with. Enjoy the 6 months of physical therapy. Let’s leave the ego lifting in 2020 where it belongs and worry about form and safe lifting.
Types of Muscle Fibers
Now that we have those formalities out of the way, you have two types of muscle fibers: fast twitch and slow twitch. All of your muscles are comprised of both types of muscle fibers. Slow-twitch muscle fibers are trained in weight lifting with a higher rep count compared to fast-twitch muscles fibers which are trained by a low rep count. As mentioned earlier, if the reps are higher, you will use a lighter weight compared to lowers reps at a higher weight. Both are still appropriate for the workout at hand (chart at end of blog for reference).
Training For Your Goal
In short, your weight training sessions should be compromised of both heavy weight exercises and high volume exercises in order to hit both types of muscle fibers. It does not matter if you are in a deficit or a surplus, the way you weight train should not change. You may not hit a ton of PRs while cutting but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be lifting as heavy as you can for the given rep ranges, I recommend dedicating 1/2 of your 45 min lifting session to low rep high weight exercises and the other 1/2 of your 45 minute workout to high rep low weight exercises.
I hope this blog helped answer the question I get so often!