More Repetitions or More Weight – Which is more beneficial?
We are bombarded with an abundance of information within the fitness industry, everyone has an opinion! One of the more divisive topics that we may encounter is whether it is more beneficial to lift heavy weights for less repetitions or vice versa. The fact is, your repetition range choice can have a significant impact on your results over time. In this article, we explain why.
Low Repetitions High Weight
A low repetitions set is an exercise that can be performed for only around 6 repetitions or less. This is often because the intensity of the exercise is around 80% of your maximum output. Intensity can be altered by increasing weight or even body positions during the movement. Traditionally, fitness enthusiast will attempt to do an exercise at a certain weight/position until they can reach a certain number of repetitions. They will then increase the intensity once the goal is achieved. By incorporating a high weight /low repetitions workout style, an individual can increase activation of the type 2 muscle fibres. This type of muscle group, also known as fast twitch muscle fibres, are very important in relation to building strength and promoting muscle growth.
High Repetitions Low Weight
At the other end of the spectrum, some individuals choose to employ a high repetition but lower weight strategy to their workouts. It is commonly believed that a high repetition workout will promote muscle endurance. It can even help to improve blood flow to tissues. Repetition ranges of 12 and above are considered high and these generally consist of repetition that are around 60% or less of your maximum output. Whilst this strategy alone can neglect some strength benefits, it will still be an effective way to build muscle. High rep workouts help to activate a different group of muscle fibres known as type 1. Type 1 muscle fibres are also known as slow twitch muscles, produce less power than Type 2 but these are more endurance focused fibres. This explains why high repetition workouts contribute to greater muscle endurance compared to strength, they are less susceptible to fatigue.
What is better?
So, in short, Lower repetitions with a higher weight can improve strength gains and muscle growth. Alternatively, whilst higher repetition with a lower weight will also encourage muscle growth, muscle endurance will be prioritised over strength. The beauty of the human body means that you don’t have to only benefit from one of these workout strategies. In fact, alternating between these strategies can often be the most beneficial in the long run.