Monday, February 13, 2012

Burn Baby Burn

I have an experience I would like to share. I was asked to sub a muscle class at my new gym, and I decided to take this woman's class so I could be better prepared to sub. Now her class was HARD, and I have to tell you my muscles were burning and shaking.

She did A LOT of reps, lighter weight, lots of sets using the same muscle group. For instance she would do static lunges, then pulsing lunges, then dynamic lunges. She also did shoulder front raises, side raises, then overhead presses.

The burning sensation in my muscles was something I had not experienced in a while. The lactic acid in my body was killing me! So I started thinking - have I got it all wrong? I have been much more about heavier weight and less reps - all with a goal of getting stronger, and to look better too of course. :)

I did some research - my interest was peaked, and I needed to know which direction to take with my training. I like to chart my progress and have a plan when I workout. I cannot just go into the gym and blindly workout. How can you make progress that way? You CAN'T!

So here is what my research concluded:

DESPITE the fact that in her class my muscles were on FIRE, using heavier weights STILL gets you a BETTER body EVERY time. Here is why -

First off - high rep training is hard. It burns like crazy and your muscles will shake afterwards like  you have had one hell of a workout. I sure felt that way!
Think about it - if you just lift and lower your arm overhead 100 times - your shoulder will burn and quiver, but only due to lactic acid build up. It does not take much added strength or significant effort to do that, so there will be few muscular or body composition changes that will follow. (Thanks to Marianne Kane from I was able to have this A-Ha! moment).
If your goal is to get stronger, leaner and get more defined/shaped, then low weight/high rep training will not get you that. That's right - it will NOT get you that. It might help you build some muscular endurance or help you get into working out, but you will plateau and you will see little changes to your body. The only true way to get stronger and have a better body composition (meaning less body fat percentage) is progressive overload. 
Not to mention that it takes a heck of a lot less time to lift heavy weights than it does high rep/low weight training. You can get significantly better results in less time. Less time in the gym and more time in life. :)

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