Several times through my 12 week transformation I have received the very same question and it goes a little like this – ‘’what weights are you lifting?’’ Occasionally I may share with you what kind of poundage I am shifting but the fact of the matter is it just doesn’t matter. . . . Or does it? I will sit and ‘argue’ the fact that it doesn’t until the cows come home and here is why!
What is the purpose of using a weight to train your muscles? In simple terms a weight simply provides a level of resistance against the muscle which forces the muscle to fatigue and then fail. Over a period of time, where progression is applied the muscle is forced to grow in order to cope with the ever increasing levels of strain placed upon it. OK, now I can take a breath as well as a break from talking like an over condescending school teacher with those ridiculous spectacles 2/3s the way down my nose.
So back to the point, why does weight not matter? Your muscle has no means of gauging the specific weight of the resistance; it only knows when it cannot move the weight any longer. Therefore it doesn’t matter if you are using a 10KG dumbbell or a 50Kg dumbbell does it? You might say ‘’so why does everybody use heavy weights?’’ This is simply because that is what they can lift for a given repetition range. Nothing says that you need to be able to lift a certain poundage in order to stimulate muscle hypertrophy!
Focussing on your form and muscle contraction is much more important than the weight you can lift. If you look at some professional bodybuilders you will notice the weight they can lift is relatively small compared to their size and this is because they are genetically able to stimulate muscle growth. Therefore this shows weight is certainly not everything.
In fact I would argue that if you take a weight you can just about manage to press for 6 repetitions, just about, you would achieve a much better muscular contraction by using a weight about 20% lighter and using a slower and more controlled action.
Analysing the weight you or anybody else can lift is essentially comparing your strength for strengths sake; it has little or no bearing on your ability to stimulate muscle growth! So often I will train with people who lift heavier weight yet I have a more developed physique. Maybe this is because they are stronger or perhaps because I appreciate the value of a proper muscular contraction therefore I focus on this instead of the weight.
Now just before we tie this up I wanted to make one last point, IT IS REALLY IMPORTANT TO LIFT HEAVY! ‘’What the hell do you mean?’’ is what I suspect you are thinking! Maybe I went a little over board about how weight doesn’t matter and now I am going the other way! The reason I did that was to get my point across, what you can lift doesn’t really matter and what I or anybody else can lift doesn’t matter to you unless you’re a weightlifter! There is a difference between lifting as heavy as you can for X amount of reps and trying to lift a specific weight for the sake of it.
After it is all said and done, the fire has settled and you have worked through my tongue twisting, contradicting text here is what I hope you realise.
A) Muscle contraction and form is key to building muscle mass, NOT weight!
B) Lifting as heavy as you can whilst maintaining good form and gaining a full muscle contraction is key!
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