If you’re looking to build muscle and get lean, you might find that bodybuilding websites and fitness experts offer conflicting advice. Some sources suggest using heavier weights, while others recommend doing more reps. So which method is more effective at building muscle? Let’s take a look at the science of getting fit!
Muscles grow when they are stimulated. Lifting heavy weights is the best way to stimulate this growth. However, fast-twitch fiber—the type of muscle fiber that gives you that bulky look—tires easily, depleting your stamina. With less stamina, you’ll be challenged to lift heavier weights, resulting in a net zero gain.
Doing more reps of a lower weight can help you build and sustain stamina. Doing more reps also activates slow-twitch fiber, which is integral to building endurance. But unlike the fast-twitch fiber activated by heavier weights, low-twitch fiber will not provide you with those sexy, bulging muscles you might seek.
A bit of both?
Once your muscles have gotten used to a certain workout, they stop resisting, and as a result, stop gaining bulk. To avoid plateauing, you’ll want to alternate between doing more weights and more reps, and switch up your regimen every 6-8 weeks.
When you’re working on lifting increasingly heavy weights, don’t exceed 6 to 8 reps. When you’re working on endurance, don’t do less than 10 to 12 reps. Do about 1 to 3 sets and rest for 30 seconds in between.
Remember that everyone’s body is different so these are general guidelines. As you record your progress, you might find that you can do more sets. Maybe you need less time for each cycle. Listen to your body, eat well and get enough sleep for a holistic take on bodybuilding.