You Can Still Strengthen Muscle With Lighter Weights
You’ve heard the saying less is more.
Yet, when it comes to lifting weights, you may be inclined to toss that notion out the window. Perhaps you believe that unless you’re pushing your muscles to the max with heavy weights, you’re not going to strengthen muscle with lighter weights.
That’s just not the case.
In fact, most of us could really benefit from using less weight during our workouts. Here’s why:
It Reduces Chance of Injury
Any time your body has to take on a load that’s too heavy, it’s going to incorporate other muscles to compensate for the lack of strength. This can easily lead to misalignment, tension, and added stress on the body. If you’re lifting too heavy, you simply can’t lift with proper form or technique. This creates failure in your biomechanics.
Put all of these elements into play and you’ve got the perfect recipe for potential injury.
In addition, if you’ve previously injured a specific muscle, pushing it to lift too much weight will increase likelihood of re-injuring that same muscle. Biomechanics researchers believe this has partially to do with the fact that existing scar tissue from the initial injury is weaker than connective or muscle tissue.
It’s also important to take age into consideration when picking the ideal weight. As you age, you can more easily develop joint problems. These can be exacerbated by the wrong kind of training. Rather than abruptly hitting the body with heavy weight, it’s more advantageous to use lighter weights and perform more reps while maintaining proper form.
You Achieve Full Range of Motion While You Strengthen Muscle With Lighter Weights
If you’ve ever opted for a weight that’s even two pounds heavier than your usual, you know how big the difference can feel.
This is especially true when it comes to completing the full range of motion required of a movement. You end up having to shorten the range to compensate for the additional weight. This might not seem like such a big deal.
But exercises are designed with specific movements aimed at toning and strengthening muscle groups. Any skilled physical therapist, Pilates instructor, or barre teacher will tell you that if don’t complete the entire range of motion, you’re cheating yourself.
Studies show that over a three month period, participants who consistently use the full range of motion with lighter weights actually increase the strength and size of their muscles more than those who use movements with a shorter range of motion and heavier weights.
So obviously, attaining full range of motion is important for more than just the aesthetics of the movement.
The Ability to Target Specific Muscles Is Vastly Improved
Working specific muscles or muscle groups requires you to localize movement to just them. As we mentioned above, if your weights are too heavy, other muscles will jump in to compensate.
Another thing that often happens is you begin to rely on momentum rather than strength to heft those heavy weights. So rather than targeting those biceps when you perform bicep curls, you’ll end up swinging them to complete the movement.
What happen in that case is that you give your back a workout instead. If your back muscles are already fatigued, this can cause a pull or a strain. Furthermore, you’re no longer focusing on the biceps which you were trying to work in the first place.
So stick with a weight that is challenging, but that you can actually lift without momentum. This will allow you to keep proper form as well.
Should You Ditch Heavy Weights Altogether?
We’re not saying that at all.
As with just about everything in life, both light weights and heavy weights have their benefits if used correctly. There’s nothing inherently wrong with maxing out on a set occasionally as you work to build muscle.
Just remember the importance of adding light weight/increased rep workouts into your rotation. By doing this on your recovery days or as a top-off to your regular routine, you’ll be amazed at the results it delivers.
If you’ve never worked with light weights, it’s important to understand how deceptively difficult it can be. Try pulsing a 3-pound weight for a full minute and you’ll see what we’re talking about. And yes, you can be certain you’re strengthening muscle.
Strengthen Muscle With Lighter Weights
If you’re ready to see how effectively you can strengthen muscle with lighter weights, then contact us today.
Our skilled and experienced staff will advise on the most effective movements for you while strictly adhering to proper form.
And soon enough, you’ll have stronger and leaner muscles without pain or strain.