Heavy vs. Light Workouts---GOOD READ!


I am banned!
(Taken from Ready2Explode @ MassUniversity.com)

by Pete Sisco

Ever been in the gym and heard someone say, "I'm taking it easy today; yesterday was my 'heavy' day"? Those words point to a plethora of misconceptions and false premises that thwart maximum muscle growth and can even lead to a loss of strength and mass.

"Light" and "heavy" aren't right or wrong ways to train, however, you need to know exactly what you are trying to get out of your training in order to choose the right workout.

Your body responds to exercise the same way it responds to any other stress: It adapts so that future stresses are less... well, stressful. For example, if you lie under bright sunshine today, your light skin will adapt by darkening into a tan. So tomorrow, the same amount of sunlight won't be as stressful to your body.

Similarly, you make muscle-building progress by pushing your muscles to the limits of their ability, and they adapt by increasing in size and strength. Therefore, an identical workout will be less stressful the next time.

The invisible line

The trick is finding the "invisible line" between a workout that is stressful enough to trigger new muscle growth and a workout that is not. We all understand that a day spent in the shade is not going to deepen our suntan, but do we truly understand that a "light day" of weightlifting will not increase muscle mass? Because I assure you, it won't.

To help visualize this very important and fundamental concept, imagine that your level of strength could be measured on a scale of one to 100 -- 100 being the absolute limit of how strong you could become if everything possible was done to build your muscles.

So in essence, if today's workout pushes past 30 in intensity and work done, then your strength level will grow to 37. That's a productive workout. But your next workout will have to push past 32 (5 points away from your new maximum) in order to trigger even more muscle growth. If you do that 30 workout again, or, God forbid, a "light" day of an 18 workout, you don't have a prayer of generating new muscle. So what would be the point of working out?

Can't always train heavy

This leads to something else you might have heard in the gym; "You can't train heavy all the time." I hear that refrain every time I try to explain the aforementioned concept. But what people really mean is, "I'd love to lift weights 3 or 4 days a week, but I can't train heavy that often." Now that's very true. After all, I can't get my hair cut three times a week just because I like going to the barber.

Reality check: Do you want to lift weights or do you want to build muscle?

The fact remains that you can't train heavy all the time... but you can train heavy every time. But because your body needs time to recover from heavy, productive, muscle-building exercise, you need to add more time off between workouts. Our man in the aforementioned "scale" example can do a workout that is a 37, then one that is a 40, then one that is a 41 -- if he takes enough time off between workouts. That's the way you work your way up to 100. That's the way everyone has to do it. It's a physiological law.

There is a concept that can really help unlock the secret to all of this: Perceived Effort. Hypothetically, if your level of strength is 28 then a 26 workout feels extremely intense and demanding (remember; you're lifting within 5 points of your maximum strength). But if your strength level is 88 and you perform an 86 workout, the perceived effort is identical.

As you get stronger your workout intensity increases but your perceived effort stays the same. That's great news because it means you don't really have to psych yourself up for more and more difficult workouts... just the same level of perceived effort every time.

benefits of light training

So it's easy to see why the guy performing a "light" day is pretty much wasting his time. There is no possibility whatsoever that his light workout can trigger new muscle growth. In fact, if his last workout was productive, his body will be in recovery mode and will need to fully recover before the new muscle growth manifests. And doing another workout the next day -- even a light one -- will only slow down recovery.

Personally, I think the main reason guys go to the gym for "light workouts" is just so they can watch that cute blonde on the treadmill. The gym, for many guys, is what the local bar is for others: A place to meet and socialize. So people have taken their need for frequenting the gym and rationalized it into a training method of frequent "light" days without regard to the physiological facts of the matter.

But, all that said, there is one tangible and valid benefit of lighter training: Stress relief. Speaking for myself, I tend to carry stress in the muscles of my lower back and my neck and traps. If I do a few deadlifts and shrugs, I get instant relief. I only need to use 30 or 40% of my maximum to get this stress-relieving benefit. The best part is that if I keep the perceived effort very low, I know I'm not slowing down my recovery too much. The stress relief and mild endorphin release makes it a pretty good bargain. But I don't kid myself that I'm building muscle. I know that takes truly grueling effort.

So... want to get the best of both worlds? Plan your productive, muscle-building workouts far enough apart to ensure a steady climb to that "100," which represents your full genetic potential. And when you need some stress relief and a shot of endorphins, do a few lifts at about 30% of your capacity. And keep an eye on that blonde.

Interesting. What I got out of that was: progressive resistance, and don't overtrain (space your workouts out far enough).
That was a really good read. I don't remember the last time I did a "light" workout. If I don't feel like going heavy, I find it a waste of time to be in the gym so I will just pack up my shit and leave.
I was training heavy all winter long. Just switched up to lighter weights with 4-6 counts on the negative. Talk about muscle burn. But I am not pushing the same amount of weight though....
so your are that one week out of month i need to train light and the rest trained hard am i right or wrong on this one?????????
can sombody give a little help to the little people in the south
and help me understand this

no flame okay trying to get a way from those flex book and learn a new way okay help is needed
killer post man . i have been figuring this out on my own more and more now days but it is great to have just read that because it reasures me im heading in the right direction in my training efforts .:beertoast
Good info, I lift this way. What helps me is taking one week or so off every 8-10 weeks, keeps the old joints happy!!-valerie
Basically lift heavy, going for intensity not volume. May mean lifting only 3-4 times per week. Keep sets to a minimum, reps between 5-12 depending on lift and body part. Instead of using the typical three sets and 8 reps, by going heavier and balls to wall so to speak, you should not be getting out lot s of sets. Increasing wts by small % each w/o for that body part. If you are getting lots of sets out then you are not using enough wt. To devolpe more lbm you needd to push more wt not more sets. Get the most out of each set.

Of course warm up properly and recovery is the limiting factor in all of this, so w/o may be less per week. I take a week or so off every 8-10 weeks, to give my joints a break.

Basically no point in doing low wts and high reps. Stick with the basics like squats. deads, military presses, etc.

Just try it for yourself. Too many w/o per week will make it very tough. The wt increases should not be massive ( won't last long at that!) Hope this helps-valerie
so your are saying i work out like this for example:
four to three sets 8-10 reps

and you are talking about 2-3 set for bis but 6-8reps per sets
but do alot of weight
how long should i do this for
I think that it is good to go with high reps,I donot beleve that the only porpouse to lifting is to get bigger and stronger, some people do not want to get any bigger they want to cut up and stay in shape and also get stronger, so i do no beleve that it is a waste of time lifting lighter with higher reps. It is also a good way to burn fat and calories,im not saying that lifting heavy dont.
there are very few times when high rep exercises will stimulate growth. Legs do seem to respond to high rep exercises cause they are accustomed to performing a high amount of work (time under tension). Also, high reps can stimulate some growth if low-mid reps have been exhaustively used. Other than that, high reps only help detail the muscle structure and burn more calories.

The above article is an excellent read. I only train 1x every 3 days usually.

Day 1- legs
heavy compound movements, all out intensity.
Day 2- off
Day 3- toss some biceps in here
Day 4- Chest/Tri's
Day 5- off
Day 6- off
Day 7- Back
DAy 8&9- off

People get too caught up in finishing their program on the 7day week regimen. Use a calendar and space out your workouts. I have 2 clients of mine doing this and they are finally making the size gains they were looking for.