Q: So, should we be doing more reps with lighter weight or fewer reps with heavy weights? Let’s settle this debate once and for all!
A: The answer is both! Contrary to popular belief, incorporating some higher intensity training (lower reps, heavier weights) into your workout routine will not make you “bulky.” It might seem counterintuitive, but lifting heavy weights can actually help you get a lean body faster.
Most of us, especially when starting out at the gym tend to train with lighter weights (50-60 percent of maximum capability) and higher repetitions (15-20+ reps per set) for each exercise. This approach isn’t necessarily wrong but the downside is that it only develops endurance capabilities of the muscle (type 1 or slow-twitch muscle fibers) and neglects type 2 or fast-twitch muscle fibers, which are important for building new muscle tissue and developing strength and power.
Building muscle is important for your metabolism. Muscle tissue is much more metabolically active than fat. In other words, muscle requires calories as fuel to sustain itself, even when you’re just sitting still. Plus, a pound of lean muscle tissue takes up significantly less space inside the body than a pound of fat tissue. So losing body fat and adding lean muscle mass is the ultimate combination to help you achieve a tighter, leaner version of yourself.
How should you train to get the best of both worlds? People often use light weights and high reps exclusively when aiming to lose fat, but this is a huge mistake — especially if you want to have toned muscles. Focused nutrition and high-intensity interval training (HIIT) take care of fat loss, while strength training will help you keep the muscle you already have. That said, to maintain the most muscle possible, you have to lift weights that are heavy enough to convince your body that it still needs that muscle tissue. Aim to be reaching fatigue at the end of each set.
Do: Use light weights and high reps, but not in the traditional sense of weightlifting. Instead, do full-body exercises in a circuit, performing high reps with limited rest.
Now go and get lifting! For more information or if you have any health and fitness related questions please get in touch and follow my journey on Instagram @luisamcloughlinpt 🙂
Become the best version of you.