Heavy weight vs high reps

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Heavy weight vs high reps

Resistance training is something every athlete should do as it offers many benefits like increased strength and muscle mass. However, when it comes to training types this is where some people may get confused and just do whatever everyone else is doing. One of the decisions you will have to make is whether to do heavy weight or more reps. Each has the positive and negatives and its good to switch it up once in a while to make sure you’re getting the most benefits from your workouts.


Why change?

If you have been sticking to the same training type for years, then it is probably the time to give it a little change. Doing this will keep your workouts more enjoyable as they become less repetitive and give you a chance to try new workouts that you may enjoy. You can also give yourself a chance to hit other parts of your muscle groups that may go neglected and this will help with overall strength and symmetry. You will also get a lot of benefits from trying out different types of training. In this case if you usually train with heavy weight, going for more reps will increase things like muscle endurance.

To get the most benefits many do a mixture of the two, so on some movement they will go for heavier weight and on others they will decide to do more reps. Doing this makes it easier to get the most out of your exercise and is good for improving your overall fitness and strength. Another reason why you may seek to change your workout is due to injury or pain. This is common for strongmen and powerlifters that have been injured and can no longer lift heavy weight like they used to. These will resort to more reps on lower weight to maintain their muscle mass and strength.



One thing you need to consider when deciding whether to go for reps or weight is strength. If you’re looking to increase your strength and be able to lift heavier weights then you will wanting to be training on the heavier weight and going for less reps. This gives your muscles a chance to adapt themselves to lift the heavier weights and therefore increase your overall strength. When training with heavy weight you want to go for around 6 reps at 70% – 80% of your one rep max. Make sure you’re training safely and have a spot as when you increase the weight, the risk for injury also increases.

When it comes to high reps this style of training may also be useful when it comes to gaining strength. If your training till failure and working your muscles then your going to improve strength as your still creating micro tears in your muscles which promote muscle growth. However, this style of training is not as effective for gaining strength but instead is better for muscle hypertrophy which is when you gain muscle mass instead of strength. This makes it effective for gaining mass and looking more defined.



When training you also want to take muscle endurance into consideration. This is the amount of time it takes for your muscles to tire out when doing an exercise and there are many benefits when you improve this.  One being that if you play a sport like football or rugby then your performance will increase. When playing sports, you will be required to use muscles for a long period of time so therefore your performance in this sport will benefit from increased muscle endurance. Better muscle endurance is achieved through higher reps when working out. So, if your looking to improve endurance then try doing more reps rather than heavier weight. Many other things like cardio can also increase your endurance.

The increased endurance is due to higher rep training mainly targeting slow twitch muscle fibres. These are endurance based and generally fatigue slower than fast twitch muscle fibres that are more strength based and help you lift heavier weights. When training for higher reps its important to still challenge yourself and go for reps on a slightly higher weight then usual. This will ensure your still working your muscles to their full effectiveness and they are still getting a good workout.


Muscle mass

When looking to gain muscle mass then you want to make sure your doing resistance training. However, when it comes to getting the maximum amount of muscle gains as possible, your training does make a difference. Doing lower weights for moderate reps has been shown to be then best and this involves training until failure sometimes to get the most out of the workout. Dong this is also getting benefits from high reps and weight as your still going to be increasing your strength and also your endurance, while training for muscle mass.

When it comes to increasing muscle mass, both styles of training offer benefits and will cause you to build muscle, however you may see more benefits by doing higher reps as this style of training has been shown to increase muscle mass. When training its good to do a mix of the two styles of training.  This will prevent your muscles from reaching plateau, which is when you are training but are seeing no benefits and may seem like a brick wall on the road to your goals.  


Fat loss

When it comes to losing weight not many people look at resistance training. Well, if your looking to lose a few pounds of fat and look better then hitting the weight is something you should be doing. As well as burning calories while doing the exercise, lifting weights has a high afterburn effect as your muscles need calories to rebuild and replace energy lost. This mean you are burning calories for hours after your exercise is complete. One benefit of doing higher reps is that you are burning more calories during the workout as you are moving more. This means you will burn more calories immediately.

If you train with heavier weights and go for only a few reps, then you’re not going to be burning as many calories as your not active. However, you will burn more calories after the workout as your muscles will need the calories to grow your muscles stronger and also replace energy stores. For this reason, when trying to lose weight you may want to be looking at doing higher reps and maybe also a bit of cardio as this also burns a lot of calories. HIIT training is also a very effective form of training for weight loss as it pushes you to the limit and makes you burn maximum calories.  


Why you should do a mix of both

When going for specific goals we tend just to train for them goals and can neglect everything else. For example, if you’re training to be as strong as possible then your mostly going to be doing low reps and high weight like strongmen tend to do. By doing this you’re neglecting everything else like fitness and looks which isn’t good if you just want to be generally healthier. With that said doing a mix of both may increase the time it takes you to reach your goals, but you would have also made progress in a lot of other areas also.

As we have said before by doing a mix of both styles of training you are also adding some variety to your workouts. Doing the same number of reps on the same weight can be tedious and boring so by switching it up you can give your muscles a break from the same repetitive stuff they are used to. This also gives you a chance to overload your muscles and give them a shock. Doing this gives them a challenge which means your working them more. This results in more microtears formed by the exercise and therefore more gains.


In conclusion, if you are not sure about what type of resistance training you should be doing, we now hope you have a clearer picture. Although doing one type of training can benefit you and help you reach your goals, as we have said doing a mix of both can also benefit you and is likely the best way to go. You could also switch it up some days and do heavy weight one day and light weight the other to get the most variation in your workouts which will keep you engaged and not getting bored of your workouts.