Written by Alex Simpson
5 Top Tips
Bodybuilding, and health and fitness in general for that matter, is all about progress. For many of us, it can seem counter intuitive to lift weights that we’ve been able to deal with no problem at all, for as long as we can remember. People seem to think that the only way to progress in the gym, is to lift the heaviest weights they can manage, this is not the case. Of course there are benefits associated with lifting heavy, just as there are drawbacks associated with lifting heavy, which is why you may wish to mix things up from time to time and to focus on lifting much lighter loads instead. If you’re stuck in a training plateau, or if you just wish to try something new, here are a few reasons to lighten the load in the gym, as we look at 5 reasons to lift lighter weights.
#1 Better Form
When lifting, your form is arguably the most important component of your training, as poor form not only results in less gains, but more importantly than that, poor form can also make you far more susceptible to injury. If you are trying to lift heavy weights, obviously you will be struggling a great deal and so your form will suffer. With light weights however, you can really focus on mastering your form and technique so that you are working your target muscle groups with whichever exercise it is that you are performing. This not only helps keep you safe, but it also educates you and will benefit you in the future, as you will quickly learn how to execute each exercise with perfect form.
#2 Better Pump
Whilst muscle pumps are generally more for show than they are for function, there are some programs, FST-7 for example, that place an emphasis on achieving an impressive muscle pump through high volume. Breaking down and stretching muscle fascia tissue, will in turn make the muscles more visible and defined, and it will allow you to target them much easier. In order to achieve a muscle pump however, you need to place an emphasis on high volume working sets, and you can’t perform high volume sets with heavy weights. With light weights you can work the muscles for higher reps, which in turn will force more blood into them, resulting in more impressive muscle pumps. This in turn will help to achieve slighter greater levels of hypertrophy, plus you will look great in the mirror when pumped, which will motivate you and spur you on further.
#3 Bring Up Lagging Body Parts
If you have a certain part of your body that you feel is lacking in comparison with the other muscle groups in your body, light weight training could be your key to progress. When you train with light weights, you can really isolate stubborn body parts and target them to make them grow, which you simply wouldn’t be able to do with heavy weights. Say for example, you wanted to grow your biceps and only your biceps, you couldn’t target them with heavy barbell curls because they are compound exercises. Concentration curls performed with a light dumbbell however, will allow you to really isolate the bicep and get a fantastic squeeze with each rep. At first they may feel painfully easy, but once you reach 10 reps or so, you’ll quickly begin to feel the burn and will feel the bicep muscle fibres really ripping and being worked.
#4 Fun Alternative
If you’re used to training with heavy weights and performing 4 – 6 reps, or even if you stick with a more typical bodybuilding program and aim for weights which allow you to perform 8 – 12 reps, if you drop the poundages and lighten the load and use much lighter weights, you will find that your training becomes a great deal more enjoyable. They do say, a change is as good as a rest. With light weights you can focus on high rep ranges and can train until you reach failure on every single set. Whilst a set of skullcrushers with 10lb dumbbells may seem easy to start with, if you focus on performing 20+ reps per working set, by the time you finish, your triceps will literally feel as if they are on fire. Switching up your training is a great way of keeping things fresh, plus it keeps the body guessing, which again, is a great way of shocking the muscles into new growth.
#5 Burn Fat
When you train with light weights, obviously you will be performing high volume working sets, otherwise you won’t feel the benefit. Studies have found that high volume training will cause your heart rate to increase a great deal more than a lower volume program, which means that your metabolism will increase and you will burn more calories. More calories means more fat being burnt off, and from a bodybuilding perspective, who doesn’t want that?