4 Reasons to lift heavy and 1 reason to not
Are you looking to build some muscle? I’m going to give you 4 reasons you need to start lifting heavy and 1 reason to not.
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There is often a lot of confusion about what it takes to build muscle.
People get confused about terms like lean muscle, hypertrophy, strength, and power. Then there is rep ranges of 1 to 3, 4 to 6, 8 to 12, etc…
Let’s make it simple. When lifting weights, if you want to build strength and size you must lift heavy.
Sure there is a place for lighter weights, however, lifting heavy is essential.
Let’s look at the reasons why:
Build more strength
Heavy weight lifting is the fastest way to build strength and size.
That strength correlates directly to being more athletic, increased power, and increased speed.
Strength is part of the foundation that makes your training successful in the long run.
Granted, when you go to the gym and lift weights you will be building strength no matter what. When it comes to efficiency, lifting heavy will give you faster and overall better results.
In order to do so, you need to focus on your 75 to 85% 1 rep max weight (1RM). You also need to focus on compound moves.
For instance, say you can bench press 135 lbs. 12 times before failure. That means your 1RM is 193 lbs.
You should therefore, be benching 3 sets at 155 lbs. 4 to 6 reps per set.
If you want to know your 1RM Bodybuilding.com has a great calculator.
Develop a leaner physique
Aside from being able to lift a car or flip a tire, building strength translates to a better physique.
While lifting lighter weights with higher reps can help develop lean mass, it will not provide one key element: fat loss.
When you lift heavy you create more stress on the muscles. This stress creates more cell receptors that build bigger muscles.
You also create more insulin receptors to make energy use more effective. This means fat loss increases.
While many believe that the best way to burn more calories is cardio, there is more to it.
Yes cardio is king in calorie burning exercise. However, what many don’t realize is what happens post-workout.
Heavy weight lifting creates an afterburner effect. This means that post-workout your energy expenditure goes up and you burn more calories and fat.
Simply adding in heavy lifting sessions to your routine can greatly increase the amount of fat you burn. Top this with the extra muscle growth and your physique changes occur drastically faster.
Expose muscle imbalances
Lifting heavy requires lots of barbell training which often scares people, especially new gym goers.
Whether you are a newbie or have been training for years, you need to do more work loading up the barbell for compound moves.
Some of the key exercises include back squats, dead lifts, bench press, and military press.
In each of these exercises your body requires a entire muscle groups not just individual muscles.
Whereas, isolation exercises like lateral raises or bicep curl really only work one muscle or a small triad of muscles.
While isolation has its place, there is one key factor to heavy compound lifting you can’t get elsewhere.
When your body is forced to recruit entire groups of muscles to accomplish a lift, you will inevitably find areas where you are weaker and have possible muscle imbalances.
With muscle imbalance comes potential for injury. Once identified, now you have an idea of what to fix.
For instance if you find a weakness in your back strength, now you know what to spend an extra day on.
For example in a general split geared toward back strength. Monday is pull day, Tuesday is push day, and Thursday is legs. These 3 days do all your heavy compound lifts. Then on Friday, do another pull day focused on isolation of the back.
Lastly, when you lift heavy you create more confidence.
Mental strength is a big part of the Pioneer Fit program.
Unfortunately, so many people start out with or have a low self-efficacy.
People are generally afraid of real challenges because of fear from failure.
Lifting heavy helps change that. So often we are a lot stronger than we think. There are so many times in life that require us to lift or move something heavy and we do it because its routine.
When it comes to the gym, often people shy away from lifting heavy.
However, when you go to do a dead lift at 80% of your 1RM and accomplish 4 to 6 reps, that is a huge motivator.
Sure it might be unpleasant, but working out is generally unpleasant. It is just a short part of the day and after you accomplish it, think of how motivated you will be because you accomplished something you didn’t think possible.
Another aspect is our visual sense.
When you start developing a leaner overall physique and seeing the changes, that is a huge motivator.
On top of that, when others say it, you will know you are on the right path.
We have looked at 4 reasons why you should lift heavy. Now let’s discuss one reason why you should not lift heavy.
If you are unable to safely and effectively lift heavy weight, drop the weight down.
The opposite side of people with a low self-efficacy, some people have an inflated high self- efficacy.
They go in thinking they need to lift more than the person next to them to show off.
Leave the ego at the door and focus on good form.
Having bad form can cause serious injury if not taken care of. Besides injury, if you don’t have the ability to hit the full range of motion on an exercise due to weight, then its too heavy.
For instance on a squat, this exercise requires a full range of motion to be effective. If your thighs are not getting below 45 degrees then lighten the load and work on form before strength. Instead of 80% maybe drop it down to 70%. Still not enough, go to 60%.
Then make sure to focus on isolation exercises to fix weakness and muscle imbalances that are causing you not to hit your weight range.