Let’s get one thing ALL the way straight… lifting heavy is NOT the end all be all of muscle gain. Now that we got that out of the way, we can get started.
The age-old notion that the only way to see any significant gains in muscle size and strength is my lifting impossibly heavy has been debunked little by little. There are now significant studies that have shown that lifting lighter can be beneficial. This is great news for everyone from beginners to veteran lifters looking for a new routine, and definitely for anyone looking to nurse back to health an injured muscle. Here are just a few of the many ways in which lifting lighter weights can actually help you reach those gains goals.
Improve and increase range of motion
When a dumbbell, plate-stacked barbell, or even kettlebell is just unrelentingly heavy, it can seem hopeless that you’ll get in more than a handful of reps. Even with just a few reps, they may not even be complete or in good form because the weight is just too much to handle. Now compare this to lifting lighter. With a lighter weight on your muscles, you can focus on getting a complete motion and getting the obtaining the total benefit from each and every rep. No wasted effort and all of the muscle work going toward your goals.
Work the entire muscle
When a piece of equipment is overly heavy, our body tends to rely on other methods to get it up or lifted. A lot of times, this means relying on momentum to swing it, twirl it, or bounce it up. This pretty much defeats the purpose of even lifting in the first place. Your muscles aren’t actually even working and you’re using gravity to help you out. Put the unreasonably heavy weight down and pick up something within your abilities so that you can use your own muscles strength to move it efficiently. The wild flailing arms thing doesn’t look good on anyone.
Target the underdog muscles
Lighter weights are a great resource for targeting smaller, harder to reach muscles. When the load is lighter, these specific muscles are able to take it on without larger muscles having to jump in and save the day by compensating for the lesser ability of a smaller, weaker muscle. Take for example movements targeting the triceps. When the weight is manageable by that muscle alone, it can help build it by focusing the force on that area. If the weight becomes unbearable by just the triceps, a large muscle, like the shoulder muscles get activated and thus take over the lift. The triceps are then used less and not forced to grow.
Lifting light is a great way to keep the pump going without getting into unnecessary uses of your strength. Forget what you think you know and try lighter weights for more reps next time. Your muscles will thank you.