Traditionally we use Heavy Weights with 3-5 reps to build muscle strength and use Moderate Weights for 8-12 reps to build muscle growth.
However more research (Mangine et al 2015 for example) has been coming out challenges that strategy. They compared
- Heavy Lifting at “70% of 1RM at 8-12 reps with 1 min rest between sets”
- Volume Lifting at “90% of 1RM at 3-5 reps with 3 min rest between sets”
With the exception of the increase in arm mass, which was twice as great in the Heavy Lifting group, none of the differences in body composition between the groups were statistically different.
So how will this affect your treatment regimen?
Are you going to switch the high intensity style workouts?
I suggest that every 8 weeks or so you change it up. Work on getting your form perfected during the volume-period, so you don’t get injured when you start lifting the high intensity weights. Heavier weights tend to bring out the faults in your lifting technique and that may increase risk of injury. So if you are new to lifting, or if you are coming back from an injury, I like to start with high volume and then progress to high intensity style of training.
With any research study there is typically another research-study to show something different, so don’t stop and change everything because of 1 study, but on the other hand we should not just keep doing what we are doing because we always have done it that way.
Keep your workouts novel, change things up, but stay safe and always “Quality Over Quantity”.
Also, don’t forget the tempo of your lifts. Don’s skimp on the eccentric or isometric portion of your lift for better results, regardless of many reps you perform.
Mangine GT, Hoffman JR, Gonzalez AM, et al. The effect of training volume and intensity on improvements in muscular strength and size in resistance-trained men. Physiol Rep. 2015;3(8):e12472.