Are heavy weights the ONLY way to go?

Many of us that go to the gym have a variety of goals; whether that is feeling better, looking better, playing sports better, etc. There are countless number of ways to work your way towards these goals. HOWEVER, we do not need to hit heavy weights in order to reach these goals. It HELPS if we use heavy weights, but it is definitely not mandatory. 

For majority of us, our goal is not to compete at the world championship of power lifting. Most of us do not even have goals that are similar in lifting heavy. Thus, we do not need to be lifting heavy weights during our training sessions. In this article we will go through reasons why light to moderate weights could be better training options for most trainees. Ask your personal Trainer in Richmond if they only lift heavy. 

Injury prevention 

Lifting heavy weights, in my opinion, is lifting 90% of what you are capable of lifting one time (max). In other words, heavy lifting is the definition of lifting close to your maximum weight – whether you are squatting it, pressing it or simply lifting it off the floor. With heavy lifts, the RPE can be anywhere from seven to nine. RPE is defined as ‘rate of perceived exertion’ and it simply means how subjectively difficult it is to perform that task.  

With such a taxing movement it heavily impacts our body as a whole. Specifically, lifting heavy puts additional stress on our musculoskeletal system such as our tendons, ligaments and bones. Let’s take heavy squats for an example. With such a heavy load on our back it compresses our spine as we work through the movement. Note that a small amount of compression is healthy for the spine and for bone health. However, with excessive compression it will deteriorate the spine. 

Apart from our backs, the knees and ankles also take a beating with heavy squats. Flexion and extension of the knee under heavy loads will cause stress within the ligaments, tendons and muscles. Finally, without conscious stabilization of the ankles, heavy weight will cause harm to the ankles and feet. Ask your personal trainer in Richmond if they squat heavy. 

Metabolic Conditioning 

Majority of people who hit the gym generally want to look better. Most of them want to shred off the extra pounds and tone up their bodies. With this goal in mind, weight training and conditioning (metabolic conditioning – also known as MetCon) is the way to go. This is a fast-pace, intensive training method that taxes the muscular and cardiovascular system. With this training method, you CANNOT use heavy weights with it. The reason is that if you perform heavy lifts, you have already fatigued your nervous system and muscular system, and will not be able to perform the conditioning. And even if you have very good stamina, the quality of movements will not be as good compared to if you did not perform heavy weights. 

In order for MetCon to play its part, moderate weights are recommended along with conditioning movements. Both parts of this method need to balance each other out. With performing weights, you also need to perform conditioning movements with little or no break. Together this is MetCon – both strength training and conditioning in order to tax the body’s muscular and cardiovascular system. Ask your personal trainer in Richmond if they perform any MetCon. 

Specific goals 

Depending on the goals you want to achieve, heavy weights may not be useful to you at all. 

For example, with power training it is recommended to work explosively with approximately 30% of your 1 RM. The idea is to move as fast as you can with the weight in order to achieve neural and muscular gains. In this case, heavy weights will not be ideal because the load would be too much to move quickly. 

Another example is with rehabilitation goals. With an injured individual or an athlete it is crucial that you start very, very light and work your way up. Otherwise you run the risk of re-injury. Injury prevention is our number one goal no matter what you are training for. 

Until next time, 

Coach Marco 

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