Heavy Weights vs Light Weights | Build Muscle (THE WINNER IS…)

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The question of whether to use heavy weights or light weights to build muscle is one of the most common training questions. The answer is not so straight forward. The fact of the matter is that in order to build as much muscle as possible you better learn that you need to lift light weights at times and heavy weights at other times. In fact, there is a third way that you should be lifting as well if you want to get serious muscle.

In this video, I use the example of the shoulder side lateral raise to illustrate how to build muscle using both light weights and heavy weights on the same exercise. It has to do with the portion of the contraction that you are attempting to focus the overload necessary for building mass on. If you are looking to overload the concentric or positive portion of the lift then you better get used to lowering the weight that you are using.

That’s right. Leave the ego lifting at the door when you are trying to build muscle by overloading the concentric. Often times, way too much momentum is used to throw a weight up during the concentric on an exercise. This disperses the force from the single area that you are trying to build up to the many areas and muscles around the muscle in question and therefore weakens the overall effect on the target muscle.

On the contrary, if you are trying to stress the eccentric or lowering phase of a muscle contraction on a target muscle then you better get used to asking for help from surrounding muscles in order for this to work the best. In the example of the side lateral raise for shoulders, the middle delts can recruit additional help from the traps, rear delts and even torso muscles to safely help cheat the weight up into position where a stronger eccentric can be performed.

Relying solely on the amount of weight that can be strictly muscled up by the singular muscle in question will limit the amount of weight that you can use on an eccentric (and therefore will be limiting your size potential). This technique is actually something that you can apply to not just this one exercise but almost every exercise you can do.

That said, this combination of heavy weights and light weights is not enough to complete the picture. The explosive component of your training can only be achieved by using a weight that is in the middle of the two extremes shown here and focusing on accelerating the weight as you lift it. This introduces the element of power to strength. Power combined with concentric and eccentric overload makes your size and strength gains even more functional.

For a complete training and workout program that builds functional strength at the same time as it is helping you to add serious muscle size and strength, head to http://athleanx.com and get the ATHLEAN-X Training System. Start training like a pro athlete and learn how you can start looking like one in just 90 days with physical therapist and strength coach Jeff Cavaliere guiding your every workout.

For more videos on the benefits of lifting light weights as well as the top 5 reasons to lift heavy weights, be sure to subscribe to our channel here on youtube at http://youtube.com/user/jdcav24

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23 Comments

  1. hey jeff ibeen following your chanel for a long time.. just wanted to knw how you feel about pork

  2. could you speak to the challenges that a 60-yr old athlete starting to lift seriously might run into?

  3. You should go light enough to be able to get a full contraction with good form and squeeze the muscle. As hard as it is not to ego lift, this is wayy more effective at building muscle.

  4. would it be good to incorporate all 3 in to one work out? e.g. curls light weight for form then heavy weight and then middle weight for power? or do all 3 on separate workouts?

  5. If you are on steroids, light weight / high reps builds muscle. If you are natural, heavy weight / low reps builds muscle.

  6. You have got to be the best anatomy/physical therapy/and fitness teacher I've ever met Jeff. I wish I had known about you back in high school lol. Would have saved me a lot of time and effort. I'm watching your channel religiously now man. You make learning about this stuff really interesting. Keep it up bro!

  7. Thanks Jeff, i love all of your videos. You really go into the science of muscle growth which is a great thing to see. Most youtube channels just say do this and that with no reason why, you explaining why not only gives me the knowledge to achieve my goals but also motivates me.

  8. Ok, I understand the concept of juxtaposing those 2/3 concepts into my workout. But how do you do that? Do you alternate between workouts along the week? do you do similar exercises but with different weight on the same exercise? How do I incorporate this into a usable training program?

  9. I have people tell me if I do heavy I need to stay heavy and not go back to light because it's going to confuse my muscles. should I do light one week and then do heavy one week?

  10. What do you all think about lifting heavy for several months then switch and lift light for a few months

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