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  1. #1
    Registered User AidosBrah's Avatar
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    Light weights V heavy weights

    Hey guys,

    I am new to body building and from what i understand about it is that doing heavy weights with low reps (6-8) is generally best for gaining muscle mass.

    I have also heard that there is a myth that if you do lightweights with high reps it will tone your muscles. however i am not entirely convinced as i have heard many times that the only way to tone your muscles is by losing that fat around them via diet.

    So what does lightweights actually do for your physique? Is there much point in doing lightweights or should i just stick to heavy?

    Thanks guys,

    Aidos.
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  2. #2
    Registered User jeffsmith2's Avatar
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    Light weights at higher reps condition your muscular endurance and help induce cellular/metabolic adaptations. In short, higher rep ranges that normally require lighter weight help build mitochondrial density and increased capillary density in working muscles.

    Tone is a myth. The most toned muscles are strong muscles. You can achieve good hypertrophy anywhere from 4-12 reps. Lower rep ranges will create more myofibrillar hypertrophy while higher ranges will create more sarcoplasmic hypertrophy. You'll see a lot of bodybuilders for instance train at higher rep ranges like 10-12 rep sets and are not really considered that strong for their size.

    Personally, for bodybuilding I would prefer an 8-10 rep range on sets simply because anything less requires greater recovery times and anything higher I tend to lose focus. Just my opinion though.
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  3. #3
    Registered User AidosBrah's Avatar
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    Originally Posted by jeffsmith2 View Post
    Light weights at higher reps condition your muscular endurance and help induce cellular/metabolic adaptations. In short, higher rep ranges that normally require lighter weight help build mitochondrial density and increased capillary density in working muscles.

    Tone is a myth. The most toned muscles are strong muscles. You can achieve good hypertrophy anywhere from 4-12 reps. Lower rep ranges will create more myofibrillar hypertrophy while higher ranges will create more sarcoplasmic hypertrophy. You'll see a lot of bodybuilders for instance train at higher rep ranges like 10-12 rep sets and are not really considered that strong for their size.

    Personally, for bodybuilding I would prefer an 8-10 rep range on sets simply because anything less requires greater recovery times and anything higher I tend to lose focus. Just my opinion though.
    Wow thanks man you really seem to know your stuff! i really appreciate your feedback. however i dont understand all of it as i cant understand some of the terminology you used haha

    "In short, higher rep ranges that normally require lighter weight help build mitochondrial density and increased capillary density in working muscles."

    What do you mean by 'mitochondrial density and capillary density' ? ..what are they?

    From what i understand about density, it is just how hard your muscle is?

    So is this all lightweights do for our physique? just increase the 'hardness' of our muscles?

    Also doing you recommend ever doing lightweights or do you always just stick to heavy and do 8-10 reps?

    Thanks again man, much appreciated!
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  4. #4
    Registered User patriots2's Avatar
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    You need to find out first what your body responds to best. Look into periodization, the change in reps every few weeks should help you figure out what's optimal for each of your muscles. For example, Arnold trained his quads with 15 reps usually, but would go lower than 8 for other bodyparts.
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  5. #5
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    For goodness' sake son, use the search bar!
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  6. #6
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    Originally Posted by AidosBrah View Post
    Wow thanks man you really seem to know your stuff! i really appreciate your feedback. however i dont understand all of it as i cant understand some of the terminology you used haha

    "In short, higher rep ranges that normally require lighter weight help build mitochondrial density and increased capillary density in working muscles."

    What do you mean by 'mitochondrial density and capillary density' ? ..what are they?

    From what i understand about density, it is just how hard your muscle is?

    So is this all lightweights do for our physique? just increase the 'hardness' of our muscles?

    Also doing you recommend ever doing lightweights or do you always just stick to heavy and do 8-10 reps?

    Thanks again man, much appreciated!
    Mitochondria are organelles in cells(in the case of muscles, muscle cells are myocytes) that allow aerobic metabolism to occur. That is to say they use oxygen as a means to produce energy your body needs. Capillaries are extremely tiny blood vessels that carry blood and consequently oxygen to and carbon dioxide from your muscle fibers. The more mitochondria and capillary density(# of capillaries) your muscle has, the more resistent it will be to fatigue. I won't go into anaerobic(no oxygen) vs aerobic metabolism.

    It has nothing to do with hardness. Hardness is achieved by training at high intensity as extremely intense lifting/lower rep ranges(let's say 4-6) increases strength better than say 10-12 rep range. Muscle hardness is mostly neural. Taught muscles are able to generate more force. Rippetoe has a good write up on this and compares a power lifter's muscles to an endurance runner's to a your average individual.

    If you're looking to bodybuild or powerlift, don't worry about endurance adaptations from higher rep ranges.
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  7. #7
    Master Skullsmith phozosado's Avatar
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    Wow, a lot of fail in this thread thus far.

    OP- Go to the Workout section and grab a look at the stickies for Starting Strength. Should answer most of your questions in actual useable form. Bottom line - you'll be doing some strength and power building to start with. Bodybuilders do tend to use higher rep ranges (hypertrophy workouts), but they don't exclude low rep (strenght&power) either.
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  8. #8
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    Light weights V heavy weights

    Depends on your goals.

    1. Want to stay small and weak?

    2. Want to get bigger and stronger?

    1. If that is ok with you, stick to light weights. It doesn't matter what the volume, if the load is light enough, there is no muscle building stimulus. Just google the pics of the Olympic gold marathon winners. A set of thousands of reps lasting a couple of hours has no muscle building results if the load is too low.,

    2. If that is your goal, no matter what the rep range, you have to train progressively. That means you have to increase the load regularly. At first the strength increase is neural and mechanical efficiency as you learn the exercises. So there is no visible muscle gain at all!

    After the initial gains, you can't get much stronger unless your muscle fibers get bigger. So you have to train progressively. And you have to eat enough to feed the muscles, or they won't grow. Hence all the little pumpers on the threads who are the size I used to be(130), are afraid to lift heavy, and are afraid to eat enough.

    You can get huge on

    1 set x 20

    or

    20 sets x 1

    after your warmup sets.

    But it lots of 90%+ intensity(percent of max) singles will burn you out quickly. So not efficient for mass long term. If you only do low volume at the top, like 3 x 3 or less, there is no pump, which limits the availability of blood and nutrients to feed the muscle fibers.

    And it is hard to train progressively for long at high rep ranges. So doing everything for twenty reps is actually inefficient as well.

    So most do something in between like 5 x 5 or 3 x 8-12.

    I do low rep strength stuff first. Could be something like 10 x 3 ramping sets. Then follow with higher volume assistance work, usually 5 x 10. Best of both worlds.

    You don't need to do that as a beginner. See my sig.
    Old Man Strength:

    http://forum.bodybuilding.com/showthread.php?t=148519323&page=16

    Novices:

    http://articles.elitefts.com/training-articles/the-young-skinny-training-with-add-guy%E2%80%99s-guide-to-gaining-mass-and-strength/

    Beyond novice:

    Jim Wendler's 5 3 1(has bodybuilding templates)
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  9. #9
    Registered User AidosBrah's Avatar
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    Hmm okay thanks guys. helped out a lot
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  10. #10
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    i think the whole cut and lean myth from low weights, is probably because people that are cut and lean stick to low weights.
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  11. #11
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    Heavy weights for 6-8 reps for mass

    Lightweights-15-20 reps for Toning
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  12. #12
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    good question brah
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    Originally Posted by AidosBrah View Post
    however i am not entirely convinced as i have heard many times that the only way to tone your muscles is by losing that fat around them via diet.
    That is not toning. That is losing body fat. Toning concerns muscles, not fat.

    Funny how something that's been around for so long, a word that even those who don't go to the gym know, appears to not exist and is a myth. Toning is not a myth.
    bb.com, a place that turned Deadlift into a forearm isolation exercise

    and a place where 99% of 21 year olds have bad back and knees.
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    Go heavy or go home.
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    Originally Posted by jeffsmith2 View Post
    Personally, for bodybuilding I would prefer an 8-10 rep range on sets simply because anything less requires greater recovery times and anything higher I tend to lose focus. Just my opinion though.
    That 'focus', is what this sport/hobby/persuit is ALL about...

    Those few seconds. More than anything else.

    Go to 4:43... and listen to his classic spiel



    Even back then, Arnold knew this. Because of the way he trained, he was labeled a 'high volume' guy. Today we know more about why it works, and we call it 'fascia stretching'.
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    Originally Posted by ManVsIron View Post
    Even back then, Arnold knew this. Because of the way he trained, he was labeled a 'high volume' guy. Today we know more about why it works, and we call it 'fascia stretching'.
    thats a helluva an assumption. arnold's point addressed effort put into a set - that the last few reps are most productive. he used the 12 reps purely as an example - that a set will start to feel difficult at 9 but you should keep going. fascia stretching sets are inherently tied to higher reps with short rest periods to maximize pump. arnold used a range of reps & put in large effort (close to failure) regardless of the rep range , fascia stretching is controversial & unproven. at most it probably only plays a minor role.

    plus the assumption that high volume works only due to fascia stretching is absurd. there are factors like total protein degradation & glycogen depletion which are very important. also you can do high volume while using relatively low reps that dont necessarily maximize the pump. according to your theory it would be inefficient to do high volume with anything other than 'pump-maximizing' sets, you will find tons of people that will disagree based on real experience.
    Last edited by gomez26; 08-13-2011 at 06:31 PM.
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    Originally Posted by jgreystoke View Post
    It doesn't matter what the volume, if the load is light enough, there is no muscle building stimulus. Just google the pics of the Olympic gold marathon winners. A set of thousands of reps lasting a couple of hours has no muscle building results if the load is too low.
    I've always balked at this marathon analogy. People are bashing 'high rep' sets of usually anything over 15, not thousands of reps. It makes me wonder, how many strides does it take to complete the 100metre that's full of ripped muscular sprinters?

    Several other major problems exist with the marathon analogy when you try and extend it to criticizing high rep weight training, besides the 'thousands of reps for hours' argument which I really doubt most people are doing save the extreme crunch/pushup junkies who are probably very light and well-learned to be able to maintain that work level for so long/much:

    *Marathoners don't maintain constant tension on a muscle, like any runner, they have alternating periods of relaxation for muscles. This lets oxygen get in so they can work aerobically, so it stimulates slow-twitch fibers and allows fast-twitch (the strength muscles that tend to grow bigger) ones to break down. Relating high-rep muscle work that keeps tension on the muscle is flawed for this reason.

    *Marathoners also rely on things like storing elastic energy in their tendons, they bounce off their achilles. It's different than say, doing a calf exercise in how it stimulates the muscle.

    *Marathons are done using the whole, or at least the major muscles of the body, enough to push your cardio to the limit. This creates a large systemic stress and systemic endocrine response. There's going to be a lack of energy and the person is going to be dieting so they can be an efficient runner. So relating this to someone who is doing a high-rep movement for only a pair or a single limb (especially if an isolation move) is not the same thing, especially if it's a smaller muscle like the arms.*

    **Marathons take a long time, during which you can't really bring food along with you, and your entire system is too stressed to digest it. You can become dehydrated, and your glycogen runs out. Working out with high reps is different because you can have food nearby and break your workout into bodyparts so your stomach can still digest food. You can keep your glycogen from going on empty and make sure you have plenty of protein.

    *I'm just going to repeat it: "high rep" isn't usually going to be training the same move for an hour for thousands of reps. The difference between lifting 1000 reps and 100 reps is probably bigger than the difference between lifting 5 reps and lifting 10 reps, and most "high rep" stuff people talk about might even be in the 20-40 range. It can follow the same principles in that once you reach the higher goal, you still inevitably increase the weight you're using. This is different from marathoners who may actually reduce the weight they're using with time (as they drop weight) and reduce the resistance weight gives (by becoming more efficient runners, using more bounce, wasting less energy) and mostly increase the quantity.
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