Light weights are as effective as heavier ones for strength and bulk, a study found, if one perseveres to the point of fatigue.
Training with weights that are close to your maximum limit is a tried-and-tested method of gaining strength and bulk.
But a new study by researchers at McMaster University suggests that light ones work just as well.
The study, which was published in the Journal of Applied Physiology, involved 49 young male participants who had trained with weights for a year or more.
Participants underwent tests that measured their strength, fitness, hormonal compositions and muscular health, before being randomly put in groups.The two groups engaged in different weight training routines that took place four times a week over three months.
Those in first group lifted weights that were set in a range of 75 to 90 per cent of their maximum limit, to the point of fatigue, with most posting around 10 repetitions.
Men in the second group trained with weights that were between between 30 to 50 per cent of their maximum limit, recording as many as 25 repetitions before they could lift no longer.
At the end of the experiment, all participants were put through the same tests that measured indicators like muscle strength and size. Results were not significantly different, researchers found.
Professor Stuart Phillips, who teaches kinesiology at the institution, said that heavy weights deter some from embarking on resistance-training programmes.
“Some people will find it much easier or less intimidating” to train with lighter weights, he told The New York Times. The study was funded by the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada.
Still, lifting to the point of fatigue remains a key factor for strength training. “There should be some discomfort” but its impact on muscle growth is “enormous,” he added.
For more information, read The New York Times.