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Less reps more weight or more reps less weight?

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Old 01-23-2012, 11:49 PM   #1
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Default Less reps more weight or more reps less weight?

Hey everyone! I'm starting to add strength training to my workout but I'm not sure about one thing. Am I supposed to do more reps with less weight or less reps with more weight? My goal is to tone more (I still have fat to lose though). Also, please provide how many reps I should be doing with your answer since I really have no idea.

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Old 01-24-2012, 12:48 AM   #2
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HEAVY weight, fewer reps!

I am not an expert, but I do know that doing more than 3 sets of 15 reps is a total waste of time. Very, very generic recommendations: beginners usually do 2 sets of 15 reps, as you get into a routine aim for 3 sets of 8-10 reps. The weights should be sufficiently heavy that the last few reps of each set are difficult to complete.

Your goal (whether it is building muscle or losing fat) impacts more your diet rather than your lifting. Eating above maintenance will help build muscle, below maintenance will help lose fat. Either way you want to lift HEAVY. Lifting heavy in a caloric deficit will help maintain and tone muscle during weight loss. Lifting lighter for more reps will do nothing!
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Old 01-24-2012, 01:10 AM   #3
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If you want to gain more muscle, then you have to work the muscles harder, which means lifting heavier weights. As you know, the more muscle you have, the more calories you will burn.

On the flip side, as ultimately, weight loss is connected to calorie burn v. intake, nearly any type of exercise will make you lose weight if you do it long enough to burn the right amount of calories.

A very circular answer, I know! It all depends on how you physically want to look - more obviously muscular, which comes from more weight less reps, or more subtly muscular/toned - which comes from more reps less weight.
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Old 01-24-2012, 02:33 AM   #4
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Originally Posted by pattyhues View Post
It all depends on how you physically want to look - more obviously muscular, which comes from more weight less reps, or more subtly muscular/toned - which comes from more reps less weight.
This is the myth about lifting that I tried to counter in my previous post.

There is NO difference between lifting and toning. This is an unfortunate myth perpetuated by Shape, Women's Health, and other disappointing magazines that suggest it is possible to gain that "long lean toned" look like Gwyneth Paltrow, and that it requires lifting lighter weights at lower reps. Lifting heavy with larger reps is for people looking to build muscle, they claim, like men.

Lifting HEAVY either builds muscle or drops fat. It depends on if you are in a caloric deficit or surfeit. You CANNOT build muscle (except possibly a very small amount if you are a total beginner) if you are in a caloric deficit, as the above poster is implying. It doesn't matter how heavy you are lifting, it is just impossible.

Lifting lighter at higher reps doesn't really do much. It doesn't fatigue and tear the microfibers of muscle necessary to cause building of muscle (if you are eating above maintenance) or fat loss to repair muscle (if you are in eating below maintenance).

There are some good articles on Stumptuous.com like this one: http://www.stumptuous.com/lies-in-the-gym. Any decent lifting book, like New Rules of Lifting for Women, will quickly dismiss the myth that there is such thing as "toning" and that it is done with higher reps/lower weights.
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Old 01-24-2012, 03:16 PM   #5
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My trainer has me doing the following to build strength and I'm telling you I SWEAT SO MUCH!

I do 3 reps with a heavy weight (right now deadlifting 95lbs) 3 times, then I do 3 man pushups and rest for 1 minute, repeat 10 times.

It builds strength and I have noticed a huge difference in my strength and inches lost doing this.

ETA: Mind you I didn't start off this way, I've been strength training for 4 months now. I started using body weight before I even started using weights.
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Old 01-24-2012, 03:19 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by indiblue View Post
HEAVY weight, fewer reps!

I am not an expert, but I do know that doing more than 3 sets of 15 reps is a total waste of time. Very, very generic recommendations: beginners usually do 2 sets of 15 reps, as you get into a routine aim for 3 sets of 8-10 reps. The weights should be sufficiently heavy that the last few reps of each set are difficult to complete.

Your goal (whether it is building muscle or losing fat) impacts more your diet rather than your lifting. Eating above maintenance will help build muscle, below maintenance will help lose fat. Either way you want to lift HEAVY. Lifting heavy in a caloric deficit will help maintain and tone muscle during weight loss. Lifting lighter for more reps will do nothing!
Yeah this! You reminded me of where I started! LOL Yup I did 2 sets of 15 reps when I started without weights then gradually added weights. Like lunges for instance.
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Old 01-24-2012, 07:58 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by indiblue View Post
HEAVY weight, fewer reps!

I am not an expert, but I do know that doing more than 3 sets of 15 reps is a total waste of time. Very, very generic recommendations: beginners usually do 2 sets of 15 reps, as you get into a routine aim for 3 sets of 8-10 reps. The weights should be sufficiently heavy that the last few reps of each set are difficult to complete.

Your goal (whether it is building muscle or losing fat) impacts more your diet rather than your lifting. Eating above maintenance will help build muscle, below maintenance will help lose fat. Either way you want to lift HEAVY. Lifting heavy in a caloric deficit will help maintain and tone muscle during weight loss. Lifting lighter for more reps will do nothing!
I probably do not know as much about this subject as you do, but all I can say is that I do not lift heavy. In fact, my "strength training" is mainly comprised of fitness-class type workouts--circuits and some light lifting (body bar, etc.). I definitely have built muscle over time. I can see definition in my shoulders, arms and legs. So, while I may have developed much more muscle lifting heavy, it those workouts definitely did do something in terms of muscle gain.
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Old 01-24-2012, 10:45 PM   #8
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lin I think the difference is you are in maintenance and the OP is looking for fat loss. Body weight, bars, circuits, etc are fine for keeping muscles engaged and reaping benefits of weight-bearing activity. My recommendation was specifically to the OP, who is looking to preserve muscle and lose fat while she is dieting/in a caloric deficit.

Again, not an expert on the subject, but I think both approaches are perfectly fine. Lifting heavy is generally ideal I think, but both are great. I only urged heavy lifting because of the OP's stated goals.
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Old 01-25-2012, 12:11 PM   #9
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thanks indiblue, for your input.

I have a question...what about people who use their own body for weight bearing exercising? - how does this fit into the equation? for instance, like when doing lunges or squats. do you have to add weights as you progress? won't there come a time when you simply cannot add any more weight? what then?
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Old 01-25-2012, 01:29 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by indiblue View Post
lin I think the difference is you are in maintenance and the OP is looking for fat loss. Body weight, bars, circuits, etc are fine for keeping muscles engaged and reaping benefits of weight-bearing activity. My recommendation was specifically to the OP, who is looking to preserve muscle and lose fat while she is dieting/in a caloric deficit.

Again, not an expert on the subject, but I think both approaches are perfectly fine. Lifting heavy is generally ideal I think, but both are great. I only urged heavy lifting because of the OP's stated goals.
Okay, I see. Thanks for the clarification. (But since I read this post, I'm thinking of mixing it up a bit and going heavier once a week ).
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Old 01-25-2012, 03:39 PM   #11
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Originally Posted by Beach Patrol View Post
thanks indiblue, for your input.

I have a question...what about people who use their own body for weight bearing exercising? - how does this fit into the equation? for instance, like when doing lunges or squats. do you have to add weights as you progress? won't there come a time when you simply cannot add any more weight? what then?
I use heavy weights when I do lunges and squats. If you want to make progress, you do increase the weight, but at some point, you would probably just decide that you like the way you look and keep lifting the same to maintain it, rather than increase the weight you are using in order to build more muscle.
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Old 02-29-2012, 08:29 AM   #12
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Depends on what you want. Heavy weight short reps adds bulk, low weight high reps adds endurance. Heavy and short or lighter and longer?
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Old 02-29-2012, 10:46 AM   #13
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Depends on what you want. Heavy weight short reps adds bulk, low weight high reps adds endurance. Heavy and short or lighter and longer?
This is not true. As Indieblue was explaining earlier in this thread, building muscle and toning muscle are the same thing. Additionally, muscles only come in one shape: you can't choose to build short, bulky muscles or longer, leaner muscles. You just can build muscles. Doing more reps does get you endurance (like the way that cycling or walking gets you muscular endurance), but the goal of lifting weights is to build and maintain strong muscles. For that, fewer reps with heavier weights is more effective. (Also, for my money, way more fun.)
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Old 02-29-2012, 10:50 AM   #14
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Just wanted to add that you still gain muscle with doing more reps with less weight, but still trying to max out. You have to do what you like to do and will continue to do. So, if you try lifting heavy and hate it, try something different.

I HATE machines and doing weight work alone so I take a class. I take bodypump which is lower weights with more reps. I do that 2 times a week and I keep pushing myself so that I keep increasing the weights. If I don't get to the point of muscle fatigue, then my weights are too light. I have developed good muscle definition and have dropped inches. It might not be as fast as if I did heavy weights, but I know I would never do heavy weights as that would mean doing it alone and not in a class which never works for me.

Like everything else, doing SOMETHING is far better than doing nothing.
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Old 03-12-2012, 01:41 PM   #15
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I agree about lifting heavy and myth busting the whole "getting too bulky" b.s.

However, as a personal trainer who is also going out with a former body builder, I have to say that there is something to be said for mixing up a routine with less weights and more reps.

I didn't think so before I was with this guy, but I've seen the results in clients. His body building routine involved heavy weights galore mixed in with high reps and super sets. Mind you, his idea of high reps is 5 sets of 20 reps. It's killer.
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