The Ideal Number of Reps for You
Which is better to do: a high rep count with a lighter weight, a heavier rep count with a heavier weight, or something in between that? It depends what you want your results to be. In general lifting weights using proper form and frequency provides a lot of fantastic benefit. These include: reducing the chances of injury, adding muscle, boosting stamina, aids in weight loss, and will make you feel better mentally and physically. So by doing either high or low weight you will be improving your overall health and physique. Here are the benefits of lifting high weight with low reps, high reps with low reps and lifting moderate weight with a moderate rep count. After reading this you will easily be able to decide which one is best for hitting your goals:
Low weight high repetition
Lifting lighter weights at a higher rep count is encouraged for beginner lifters. If you are new to lifting weights your muscles will not be accustomed to that kind of stress and heavy weights could cause injury as a result. However, lighter weight isn’t only for novice weight lifters. If you want to add lean muscle and simultaneously improve your cardio then lifting weights at a high rep count is for you. A high rep count is considered performing an exercise for twelve or more reps. Doing more reps activates your slow twitch muscle fibers. These are slow contracting fibers that allow you to maintain a steady pace for an extended period of time, IE doing endurance activities. However high reps are not just good for endurance and doing them can be more beneficial than straight cardio workouts like running. Doing high reps can still increase muscle size and strength and it does so without adding bulk or mass. This type of muscle is especially ideal for athletes whose sports require them to run a lot during games. A high repetition workout will not slow down an athlete and will allow them to keep pushing at their full pace in the dying minutes of a game.
High Weight low repetition
Other than looking pretty cool, lifting heavy weights at a lower rep count will help you achieve size in strength more efficiently than using lower weights can. This is because when you are lifting heavy weights you are activating your high twitch muscle fibers. These muscle fibers contract the fastest and are suited for quick bursts of power IE lifting heavy weights for a few reps. I consider a low rep count to be that of 5 reps or less. An example of a heavy weight-training program is the 5x5 workout whereby you are doing an exercise for 5 sets at 5 reps. Contrary to popular belief doing a low rep workout using high reps will also burn fat at the same rate as high reps does. Burning calories is dependent on the intensity that you have in your workouts. Using heavy weights will really force you to give it your all in every set while lighter weights may not challenge you enough for you to lift until failure. Also the adding of muscle will raise your metabolism and allow you to burn more calories even when you are resting.
Note: Just because your workout calls for heavier weights do not mean that you should compromise form in order to lift heavier. Not using proper form can easily result in injury especially while using a higher weight.
The Moderate Approach
In between these two methods of lifting there is the 7 to 10 rep count with a moderate amount of weight. Here you are lifting heavy enough weights for a long enough period of time to activate the glycolytic-energy system. This energy system allows for the build up of lactic acid in your muscles, which helps in the building of muscles by giving rise to an increase in anabolic hormone levels including testosterone. This rise in hormone levels is what fosters strength and muscle growth. You will not be building muscle like you would with a lower rep and you will not be developing your muscular endurance like you would with a high rep count. However, you will be still be adding lean muscle and improving your cardio a as well.
Utilizing each of these training methods is very effective especially for athletes that need both endurance and strength. Incorporating both into your workout plan is a great way to prevent your body from plateauing as the different types of stress that you put your muscles under will force your body to adapt in new ways. With that being said I recommend that you do not do a mix of these two in the same workout plan (IE doing high reps on Monday and Low reps on Tuesday), as it will not achieve your goals in an efficient manner. The workouts will almost cancel each other out and you will not get your desired results. It would be like a sprinter doing marathon training in his workout plan. An example of a set of workout plans that utilizes each of these would be as such: Stage 1: High 15 to 20 reps and using low weight, Stage 2: 8-10 reps with a moderate amount of weight, and Stage 3: 5 reps with a high amount of weight. Each stage in the aforementioned plans would last for about a month. The stages are long enough so that you can improve and adjust to them but they are short enough so that you do not get too used to them and that they no longer challenge you. Know your goals and pick the training regiment that is going to help you achieve them. Remember that success takes time and that none of these approaches to lifting weights is going to turn you into the Hulk overnight.