Forget the saying “no pain, no gain.”
New research from McMaster University shows lifting lighter weights many times is as efficient as lifting heavy weights fewer times.
Study co-author Rob Morton says they supervised two groups of men who lifted weights to the point of exhaustion.
One group lifted heavier weights while the other had lighter weights.
An analysis of blood samples and muscle revealed that gains in muscle mass and muscle fibre size were virtually identical.
The study suggests it is an effective way to get stronger, put on muscle and generally improve health.
The findings are published online in the Journal of Applied Physiology.
How the study worked:
Researchers recruited two groups of men for the study-all of them experienced weight lifters-who followed a 12-week, whole-body protocol.
One group lifted lighter weights (up to 50 per cent of maximum strength) for sets ranging from 20 to 25 repetitions.
The other group lifted heavier weights (up to 90 per cent of maximum strength) for eight to 12 reps.
Both groups lifted to the point of failure.
Researchers analyzed muscle and blood samples and found gains in muscle mass and muscle fibre size, a key measure of strength, were virtually identical.
Phillips says “at the point of fatigue, both groups would have been trying to maximally activate their muscle fibres to generate force.”