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Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Lift LIght not Heavy

Light lifter
Heavy lifter

This research has been around for about 6 or 7 years now, but the information has yet to circulate widely throughout the fitness world- lifting light weights is just as effective for developing both strength and muscle size!
Why is this such big news? Well, for many athletes, and just plain regular folks who want to improve their health and appearance, the advice has been to “lift heavy” for many years. This means to lift a weight at least 80% of your one-rep max in that particular lift, and do it for around 8 to 10, or even fewer reps. To exhaustion!
While this method works for muscle size and strength, it also sets you up for injury- just the sheer loading of the big weights on your body can damage your joints and spine. Recent studies have repeatedly shown that much lighter weights, when also done to near exhaustion with much higher reps, (say 25 or so) are every bit as effective as those heavier weights- for both size- and strength!
I have known about this for years, in fact I have figured out that tensing the muscle throughout its range of motion- even with no weights at all!- is just as effective as lifting weights! But, using a small weight, say about 30% of so of your one rep maximum lift, helps to give many inexperienced lifters in this style the “feel” of the weight, which helps them to concentrate on the muscle being worked, helping them to actively tense it. This vastly increases the effectiveness, or the “inroad” on the muscle so it is triggered to strengthen!
Actually, I have found that the better one becomes at thinking into the muscle being worked, the lighter the weight that needs to be used.
It is so much safer to use lighter (or no weights at all) that that alone is reason to adopt this method. You don’t need a spotter, you don’t need a power rack, you don’t need knee wraps or other artificial aids- just your body! If you squat, say, with 50 pounds, your chance of knee and spine injury is vastly reduced. In addition, the cardio/respiratory benefits derived from high rep exercise are far more beneficial at infusing life-giving, muscle-building blood into your muscles. This enhances rebuilding and recovery immensely!
It is also less daunting mentally to lift lighter- the psychological effect of knowing you are going to be lifting as hard as you can for a period of time is more than most people can bear- they just decide to not exercise, it’s too hard and painful. If you lift light, you actually enjoy each rep, you feel the muscle being worked as it is meant to be used, and it feels good! We have not evolved to work as hard as possible, briefly- and then just stop.
Our bodies are meant to work, easily, and only up the effort gradually, as we tire. This is the natural way to use our musculature, and our respiratory ability. It is a way to work out that we will keep doing for our lifetimes.
It is Perfectly Paleo Exercise.

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