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Heavy Vs. Light Weights: Which is Better for Building Muscle?

Regarding bodybuilding, we all know how crucial weightlifting is for muscle mass and strength. But did you know that lifting light weights can actually give you the same results as lifting heavy weights? (1).

At PVL, we're here to clear up any confusion. Whether you prefer lifting heavy or going for lighter weights, incorporating weightlifting into your routine can do wonders for your body. It helps you stay fit, prevent injuries, and maintain good posture — keeping you healthy and strong.

Now, let’s dive into the world of lifting heavy versus light weights. We'll explore what each type has to offer for you, highlighting the benefits they bring to strength and muscle gains. Let's get started on your journey to a fitter, stronger you!

What Are Heavy Weights?

"Heavy weights" is a subjective term indicating that an individual is lifting weights significantly above their usual capacity. This form of resistance training typically involves a low repetition range of approximately 1-5 reps. It’s convenient for enhancing muscle strength and increasing body mass.

Benefits of Heavy Weights

  • It burns more calories from the extra effort.
  • It’s an effective way to build muscle mass and strength with low-volume training. 
  • It develops your brain. This study shows how lifting heavy weights increases the hormones (IGF-1) in your brain and improves your ability to reason and learn (2).

What Are Light Weights?

"Light weights" is subjective, indicating that one lifts below what they usually would. Resistance training with light weights involves performing many repetitions, typically 12 or more. This approach helps maintain lean muscle mass and improve muscular endurance. The key to achieving noticeable results with light weights is doing enough reps to the point of fatigue.

Benefits of Light Weights

  • It’s an effective way to bring your muscles under more time under tension for growth. 
  • It’s an effective way to improve muscle endurance.
  • You can execute a complete range of motion using light weights for the designated movement.
  • Reduced chance of injury.
  • Using light weights helps you focus on form and proper body posture.

You'll achieve consistent results whether you opt for heavy or light weights — just keep in mind that it might take a bit longer with the lighter weights if your goal is purely muscle and strength gains. Remember, the aim is to train till muscle failure.

Working with heavy weights and low reps will fatigue your muscles more quickly, leading to increased muscle mass and explosive power at a faster rate. On the flip side, using light weights will help you build muscle mass and endurance more gradually compared to heavy weights. The key is to choose what feels right for you and tailor your workout to meet your muscle-building and fitness objectives.

Article by Terry Ramos


  1. Light weights as effective as heavier weights for strength training. Lifting less weight more times, to the point of fatigue, is the trick, study says. (2012). DukeMedicine healthnews, 18(7), 5.
  2. Steves, C. J., Mehta, M. M., Jackson, S. H., & Spector, T. D. (2016). Kicking Back Cognitive Ageing: Leg Power Predicts Cognitive Ageing after Ten Years in Older Female Twins. Gerontology, 62(2), 138–149.
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