Yeah so do you need to lift heavy to build muscle mass? I will try and answer this very common question. I can answer this question immediately as both Yes and No! this may seem a little bit of a confusing answer but it’s true. While it may be true it’s not a very satisfying answer so I will go into it with more depth.
No you don’t need to lift heavy
It’s possible to gain muscle without doing any kind of weight training. We can gain muscle and strength from cardio exercises such and running, rowing and from various other cardio and aerobic exercising. We can also build muscle from doing light resistance training, weight training with low weight, high reps. So this is where the answer No comes from, simply put we can build muscle and strength without lifting heavy.
Here is why you should lift heavy
- It’s well understood that lifting heavy is the best and fastest way to gain strength and if you are gaining strength that means that you must be building muscle, one equals the other. However sometimes due to genetics somebody can gain strength without adding much noticeable muscle, on the flip side of this someone can gain muscle mass without gaining that much strength, but these are only exceptions. Usually one equals the other.
- We have fast twitch muscle fibres and slow twitch muscle fibres, fast twitch fibres are larger so those are the ones that we need to really target. You guessed it, lifting heavy targets those fast twitch fibres. These fast twitch fibres can also store more water among other things which will give the appearance of larger muscles.
- Sometimes we reach a sticking point, a point that we can’t just get past, when we seem to stop getting stronger and developing muscle. Lifting a weight that our muscles are not accustomed too is a good way to break past that sticking point. For example let’s take the bench press, say you have been stuck at benching 100kg for 6 – 10 reps and you just don’t seem to be able to improve. You could up the weight to 110kg for fewer reps, this will force your muscles to deal with a weight that they are not accustomed too and this will hopefully trigger gains in strength so you can build up the reps on that weight. This is a good and effective shock tactic which is proven to work, if you try this yourself just make sure you have a good spotter!
So again the question is, Do you need to lift heavy to build muscle? no, but if you are serious about strength and muscle size then yes you will get the best results from lifting heavy. If you are going to go heavy then make sure you lift well (Good Technique) and have someone to spot you.