Is It Worth Lifting Light?

We have always heard the phrase “Go heavy or go home”, but does it mean light weights don’t have any benefits? The answer is “They do!” Working out with light weights is equally important when it comes to hypertrophy.

Let’s look at the facts.

Studies suggest the hypertrophic effect of lighter load and heavier load are similar on the human body. What actually matters is the overall volume of the workout. So, as long as the volume is same, both light weight and heavy weight workouts have the same effect on muscle gains. We can calculate volume by this simple formula:

Volume = Reps x Sets x Weights


There are two ways to target the same volume

  1. By increasing the weight. When we increase the weight, we will obviously be able to lift lesser reps.

Volume = Reps x Sets x Weights = 5 x 1 x 100 = 500kgs

  1. By increasing the reps and sets. When we increase the reps then obviously we will be lifting lighter weights to achieve the same volume of the workout.

Volume = reps * sets * weights = 10 * 1 * 50 = 500Kgs

What weights target what kind of muscle fibers?

Let’s look at another fact:

Studies also suggest that heavy weight exercise targets more on Type II/IIx muscle fibers and light weight exercises primarily targets Type I muscle fibers. We know that Type II muscle fibers have more potential to grow bigger in size, but nonetheless we also need to target Type I muscle fibers for overall muscle development.

So, what makes training with heavy weights different?

In terms of hypertrophy light weights do play a vital role, but where heavy weights actually score over light weights is when it comes to building muscular strength. When we want to train to increase our strength, heavy weight exercise is the answer.

In a nutshell, a person needs to spend an equal amount of time on training with light, moderate, and heavy weights for his/her overall development of muscles, but when it comes specifically to strength, a person should primarily focus on lifting heavy weights and spend considerably less time on training with light and moderate weights. Either ways, one should not ignore training with light weights.


Article Credits – Sheikh Najid Siddiquee