When it comes to building muscle and weightlifting, there is an all too familiar notion that the heavier the weights you lift are, the more muscle you attain. However, a recent study may have just proven that to not always be the case.


A recent study conducted by researchers at Ontario’s McMaster University studied the effects and differences between two groups of young men randomly divided into two separate groups. Group number 1 used weights 75-90% of their one rep max (8-12 reps) over a timespan of 12 weeks. Group number 2, however, used weights 30-50% of their rep max (20-25 reps). Throughout the 12-week time period, researchers measured the 49 participants muscle strength and size, along with the hormone levels of each of each of the young men.


After examining the young men’s muscles and hormone levels, the results were nearly identical! The men who used 75-90% of their rep max did not have any significant difference when compared to the men who did not use their max. Both the muscle strength and size of the participants seemed to mirror one another, supporting the idea that completing fewer reps with heavier weights does not necessarily make you stronger as compared to if you were to complete more reps with lighter weights.

When it comes to lifting heavier weights, the case can be made that your body exerts more energy to complete fewer reps (as little as 1-5 at times). However, by completing more reps with fewer weights, your body is trained in the art of muscular endurance. The two different approaches to weight lifting will train your muscles in different ways to ultimately give you the same final result.


At some point in anyone’s weightlifting or workout career, however, athletes reach the dreaded plateau. Your body adapts to your workout routine and seeks a change in order to continue seeing improvements. However, the idea that more reps with lights weights can warrant the same results as fewer reps with heavier weights could be a perfect solution. If you have reached the point in your workout where you simply cannot incorporate any more weight into your routine, it might be time to change it up! Confuse your muscles with a smaller weight amount and complete more repetitions. This will train your muscles in a new and effective way in order to ensure you are still improving upon and training the strength and size of your muscles.


Works Cited: