Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Light weights are just as good for building muscle, getting stronger, researchers find

Date:
April 30, 2012
Source:
McMaster University
Summary:
Lifting less weight more times is just as effective at building muscle as training with heavy weights, a finding that turns conventional wisdom on its head. The key to muscle gain, say the researchers, is working to the point of fatigue.

Lifting less weight more times is just as effective at building muscle as training with heavy weights, a finding by McMaster researchers that turns conventional wisdom on its head.
Credit: Ariwasabi / Fotolia

Lifting less weight more times is just as effective at building muscle as training with heavy weights, a finding by McMaster researchers that turns conventional wisdom on its head.

Related Articles


The key to muscle gain, say the researchers, is working to the point of fatigue.

"We found that loads that were quite heavy and comparatively light were equally effective at inducing muscle growth and promoting strength," says Cam Mitchell, one of the lead authors of the study and a PhD candidate in the Department of Kinesiology.

The research, published in the Journal of Applied Physiology, challenges the widely accepted dogma that training with heavy weights -- which can be lifted only six to 12 times before fatigue -- is the best avenue to muscle growth.

"Many older adults can have joint problems which would prevent them training with heavy loads," says Mitchell. "This study shows that they have the option of training with lighter and less intimidating loads and can still receive the benefits."

For the study, a series of experiments were conducted on healthy, young male volunteers to measure how their leg muscles reacted to different forms of resistance training over a period of 10 weeks.

The researchers first determined the maximum weight each subject could lift one time in a knee extension. Each subject was assigned to a different training program for each leg.

In all, three different programs were used in combinations that required the volunteers to complete sets of as many repetitions as possible with their assigned loads -- typically eight to 12 times per set at the heaviest weights and 25-30 times at the lowest weights.

The three programs used in the combinations were:

  1. one set at 80% of the maximum load
  2. three sets at 80% of the maximum
  3. three sets at 30% of the maximum

After 10 weeks of training, three times per week, the heavy and light groups that lifted three sets saw significant gains in muscle volume -- as measured by MRI -- with no difference among the groups. Still, the group that used heavier weights for three sets developed a bit more strength.

The group that trained for a single set showed approximately half the increase in muscle size seen in both the heavy and light groups.

"The complexity of current resistance training guidelines may deter some people from resistance training and therefore from receiving the associated health benefits," says Stuart Phillips, a professor in the Department of Kinesiology and supervisor of the study. "Our study provides evidence for a simpler paradigm, where a much broader range of loads including quite light loads can induce muscle growth, provided it is lifted to the point where it is difficult to maintain good form."


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by McMaster University. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. C. J. Mitchell, T. A. Churchward-Venne, D. D. W. West, N. A. Burd, L. Breen, S. K. Baker, S. M. Phillips. Resistance exercise load does not determine training-mediated hypertrophic gains in young men. Journal of Applied Physiology, 2012; DOI: 10.1152/japplphysiol.00307.2012

Cite This Page:

McMaster University. "Light weights are just as good for building muscle, getting stronger, researchers find." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 30 April 2012. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/04/120430105358.htm>.
McMaster University. (2012, April 30). Light weights are just as good for building muscle, getting stronger, researchers find. ScienceDaily. Retrieved April 18, 2015 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/04/120430105358.htm
McMaster University. "Light weights are just as good for building muscle, getting stronger, researchers find." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/04/120430105358.htm (accessed April 18, 2015).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Health & Medicine News

Saturday, April 18, 2015

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Our Love Of Puppy Dog Eyes Explained By Science

Our Love Of Puppy Dog Eyes Explained By Science

Newsy (Apr. 17, 2015) Researchers found a spike in oxytocin occurs in both humans and dogs when they gaze into each other&apos;s eyes. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Scientists Find Link Between Gestational Diabetes And Autism

Scientists Find Link Between Gestational Diabetes And Autism

Newsy (Apr. 17, 2015) Researchers who analyzed data from over 300,000 kids and their mothers say they&apos;ve found a link between gestational diabetes and autism. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Video Messages Help Reassure Dementia Patients

Video Messages Help Reassure Dementia Patients

AP (Apr. 17, 2015) Family members are prerecording messages as part of a unique pilot program at the Hebrew Home in New York. The videos are trying to help victims of Alzheimer&apos;s disease and other forms of dementia break through the morning fog of forgetfulness. (April 17) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Boy or Girl? Intersex Awareness Is on the Rise

Boy or Girl? Intersex Awareness Is on the Rise

AP (Apr. 17, 2015) At least 1 in 5,000 U.S. babies are born each year with intersex conditions _ ambiguous genitals because of genetic glitches or hormone problems. Secrecy and surgery are common. But some doctors and activists are trying to change things. (April 17) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Health & Medicine

Mind & Brain

Living & Well

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins