Lifting heavy weight has to be one of the most effective ways to stimulate overall body recomposition; both gains in muscle mass and a loss in body fat can be achieved doing this. As a result a lot of gym goers like to follow a typical ‘’hypertrophy’’ training format whereby they stay in single digit rep ranges. As a result the weight they are using in order to force failure within just a few reps usually needs to be relatively heavy for that individual. Great in many ways, not so great in others.
The negative aspect of lifting in low rep ranges is generally only apparent if you do it constantly with little to no variation over a matter of weeks. In an ideal world you would rotate your training split and rep ranges over a 3-4 week period which would consist of –
Week 1 – heavy weight, low reps
Week 2 – moderate weight, low to moderate reps
Week 3 – moderate to light weight, moderate to high reps
Week 4 – repeat week 1
This is purely for example; however it gives you an idea of how cycling your rep ranges looks on paper.
So why is it not ideal to lift heavy, every week?
From the point of view of building a better physique it doesn’t make sense because you want to stimulate as many muscle fibres as you possibly can. To do that you need lots of variation – fast reps, slow reps, high reps, low reps, short rest periods, longer rest periods, new exercises and different training volumes. However that isn’t really the point of this article. Instead we are focussing more on the health of your joints and the connective tissues which hold them together.
When you lift weight you will cause a degree of inflammation to occur, to what degree is usually dictated by intensity and weight lifted (in theory). Excess inflammation can cause havoc within your joints if it occurs on a consistent basis. Tendonitis is a very common issue as a result of this and two of the most commonly effected areas with people who lift heavy all of the time in their elbows and knees.
Does this mean you shouldn’t lift heavy? As the training cycle above illustrates, absolutely not! It just means that you need to be aware of what is happening when you lift heavy, within low rep ranges and especially to the point of failure. If over time you don’t allow your joints to recover from the levels of inflammation you are causing with your training style it will in all likelihood catch you up!