You don’t have to lift very heavy weights to build muscle.  In fact, performing more reps with less weight can be an effective strategy for a variety of fitness goals whether you are a beginner or have more experience with lifting.  Try this approach a few times each week and you will soon notice a difference in strength, endurance and definition. Consider keeping a training journal to monitor your progress.

Tips to get started

  • The muscle you are exercising should feel tired as you reach the end of a set. For example, if after you do 20 bicep curls you feel like you could do 10 more, your current weight is too light. Try a heavier weight for the next set of reps. Conversely if you can’t do 20 curls with your current weight it is probably too heavy. Switch to a lighter one.
  • Watch your form. Move the weight with control and precision. Observe yourself in the mirror if one is available. Notice where you are feeling the exertion. You may need to adjust your form if poor mechanics involve muscles you are not isolating.

Benefits of the more reps, less weight strategy

  • More repetitions take longer and will burn more calories overall during exercise.
  • You can also expect to build better muscle endurance over time because you are teaching the muscle to work to exhaustion. The gains will come as you continue to challenge the muscle and allow for appropriate recovery. That will include rest days and adequate nutrition, including protein.
  • More reps with less weight can help you avoid injury. Weights that are too heavy are a prime culprit for weight training related injuries.
  • If you have already been injured using the more reps, less weight strategy can be effective for your rehab plan.

Lifting less weight for more reps may not get you bragging rights but you will get a leaner, stronger physique. The bonus is you get those stronger muscles with reduced risk of injury. If you still want the challenge of lifting heavier weights consider doing so in combination with a high rep, low weight plan. When it comes to weight training the goal really is to build muscle and strength with regular lifting. A sidelining injury takes you out of the game and you start to lose muscle gain in 3 to 5 days. Plan a lifting program that keeps you strong as well as safe.