Here we’ll talk about various studies proving that one or another approach is better for growing muscle tissue. Let’s start with strength-training exercises featuring many reps.
Highly repetitive strength-training exercises – to build muscle, and not to increase strength
If you are engaged in strength training in order to build muscle, you can use not only the weights with which you perform 10 repetitions in the set but also those with which you can perform 30 repetitions. This was discovered by American sports scientist Brad Schonfeld. But to improve strength indicators and increase endurance, high rep training is less effective.
Workouts until failure or with low intensity
Schonfeld conducted an experiment with 18 young people, whose training experience averaged about three years. The researcher divided the athletes into two groups, each of which conducted a full-body training three times a week for eight weeks.
The subjects performed seven basic exercises: a bench press, an army bench press, the pull of the upper block, the pull of the lower block to the belt (rowing), squats, leg press and leg extension in the simulator. The exercises were carried out to failure.
Half of the subjects trained with weights of 70-80% of the one-repeat maximum (1RM). In one set, they performed 8-12 reps (high intensity). The other half of the subjects trained with weights of 30-50% of the one-repeat maximum. They performed 25-35 repetitions in one set (low intensity).
What training is the best? Research results
At the end of the eight-week cycle, both groups received the same increase in muscle mass (biceps, triceps, quadriceps). Apparently, for the growth of muscle mass, it does not matter with which weights the exercises are performed – relatively heavy or light.
The single-repeat maximum in the bench press and squats with the barbell increased more in the group that trained with heavier weights. The increase in 1RM in the bench press in the low-intensity group was not even statistically significant.
But by the end of the experiment, test groups of low intensity were able to perform significantly more repetitions in the bench press with a weight of 50% of their 1RM. The total number of kilograms that subjects from the high-intensity group were able to complete to failure with a weight of 50% of their 1RM actually decreased, but not significantly.
Conclusion on strength-training exercises
“Low-intensity training is effective in stimulating muscle hypertrophy in well-trained people,” Schonfeld concluded. “The increase in muscle volume from training with low weights is equivalent to the result obtained from traditional training recommended for maximum muscle hypertrophy.“
“Provided that maximum muscle hypertrophy is the main goal of the strength-training exercises, regardless of the growth of strength indicators, the results of the study should be considered as recommendations for drawing up training programs aimed at hypertrophy. Low weight training is encouraged as a viable option.”
“On the other hand, if maximizing strength is paramount, then training loads with heavy weights should be used, and work with low weights should be ruled out.”
In addition to Schonfeld’s conclusion, it can be added that if the goal is a certain average indicator between hypertrophy, an increase in strength endurance, and an increase in maximum strength. Then it is necessary to combine two types of training – high and low intensity, as, for example, in the methodology for training bench press athletes.
Additionally, see the most effective muscle growth diet.
What is more, we’ve prepared the best combination of muscle groups to workout.