Weightlifters can lighten their loads

Weightlifters can lighten their loads

Weightlifters, you can stop grunting under heavier and heavier loads at the gym. New research suggests that lifting lighter amounts can be just as effective at building strength and muscle as pumping heavier iron.

What’s the key? Lifting until you get tired. Researchers at Canada’s McMaster University found that training with lighter loads and a high number of repetitions can deliver the same benefits as fewer repetitions with more weight. The findings were published recently in the Journal of Applied Physiology.

During the study, the researchers tested two groups of men who had been lifting weights for more than a year. One group followed the traditional approach, lifting between 75 and 90 percent of their maximum until they were exhausted — typically about 10 repetitions per set. The other group followed a lighter regimen: 30 to 50 percent of their maximum until exhaustion — often requiring about 25 repetitions.

All of the participants performed their weightlifting four times a week for 12 weeks. The results were clear: All weightlifters gained muscle size and strength, and those increases were virtually the same for light and heavy lifters.

The researchers found no correlation between the participants’ strength increases and the higher hormone levels that are brought on during weightlifting. That led them to conclude that the key to getting stronger is lifting until exhaustion — something that can be just as effective with lighter loads at the gym. They said it also suggests that lifting until exhaustion does something to boost the cellular mechanisms that build muscle tissue.

So unless you’re trying to impress your fellow gym rats, it’s OK to ease up on the heavy weights — and dial back the grunting as you lift. Lifting lighter weight to exhaustion with more repetitions just might get you the same result with a lower risk of injury!

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