If you’re trying to build lean body mass, the time-tested way to do it is to lift heavy weights until failure. By doing this, you create microscopic tears in the muscle fibers that leads to muscle growth. But maxing out on the weights every time you hit the gym can be exhausting, and sometimes the thought of lifting another set of heavy set of barbells is enough to drive you away from the gym and back to the comfort of your easy chair. When weight training burn-out sets in, some people take a few days away from the gym, while others lighten up on the weights and do higher reps.What are the benefits of training with light weights?
Lifting light weights doesn’t place the kind of stress on muscle you need to build mass, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t benefits to training with light weights. When you use light weights and do higher reps, you get more of an endurance workout. Your heart rate rises, and if you do it without resting between sets, light weight training has cardiovascular benefits. This is especially true if you do compound exercises that work more than one muscle group at a time. When you get your heart rate up, you burn more calories.
Another benefit of lifting light weights is it gives you a chance to concentrate on form. When you max out the amount of weight you use, you’re so focused on lifting the weight that your form can suffer. Lifting lighter weights lets you concentrate exclusively on form without being distracted by the weight of the dumbbell or barbell. An occasional light training session will help you get more benefits from your heavy weight training sessions.
Light weight training sessions also give you a physical and mental break from heavy weight lifting. Lifting light for a session or two can help restore your motivation to lift heavier weights again. Training with lighter weights feels good for a change, and it burns calories and gives you metabolic benefits if you do it without resting between sets.
You can also combine light weight training with cardio intervals for a calorie-burning circuit workout. To do this, do a light weight training set followed by one to three minutes of cardio. Then move on to the next weight training set. Alternate back and forth until you complete your workout. If you do multiple sets targeting the same muscle group during a circuit workout, you may still get muscle development even using lighter weights since muscles respond to the total tension placed on them. Plus, you get the additional cardiovascular benefits.
Lifting heavy weights builds larger, stronger muscles, while light weight lifting boosts muscle endurance and allows you to concentrate more closely on form. They both have their place in a well-rounded strength training program.