More Weight or More Reps to Build Your Body?

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Does more weight or more reps build your body best?

Learn why lifting more reps isn't always the supreme strength training strategy.


Measuring Intensity

The benefits of adding more weight vs more reps has been vigorously researched by Static Contraction author and trainer Pete Sisco.

Writing in Train Smart!, Sisco discusses the importance of measuring intensity, explaining how science can sometimes throw us a curve ball and why the weight on your barbell is critical.

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Here is what he discovered.

Sisco showed how in physics, moving a 100-pound weight 12 inches is the same amount of work as moving a 200-pound weight 6 inches or a 400-pound weight 3 inches (to picture these kinds of weights, a 2 foot adult turtle is 100 pounds and a Ford Coyote V8 engine tops the scales at 400 pounds).

Anyone would agree lifting a 400 pounds engine any distance is a lot more demanding than lifting a 100 pounds turtle, yet all too often you will find gym-goers hoisting peewee weights for many repetitions - an action that reduces intensity.

Here is one reason why you should always select those exercises which permit you to use the most weight, thereby keeping intensity levels at their highest.


Photo courtesy of return the sun

Reps or Weight

A second reason why you should choose more weight over repetitions in your quest to build a powerful physique was presented by Dave Maurice and Rich Rydin almost two decades ago.

Maurice and Rydin would show how adding one more rep or one extra pound on your barbell doesn't provide similar increases in load on the body as is commonly believed, and that the two training methods are quite different.

This difference would demonstrate why attempting an extra rep isn't always the supreme strength training strategy.

More Weight or More Reps?

Writing in the September 1992 issue of HARDGAINER, Maurice and Rydin presented two formulae for converting poundage between different rep numbers. These charts showed how to convert one poundage and rep combination to another - but perhaps most importantly, they revealed how an increase of just one repetition can correspond to a 3-9% decrease in resistance.

Why are these numbers so significant?

Making the jump from 5 to 6 reps in a 180-pounds overhead press is comparable to adding 5.5 pounds to your barbell - a perilous leap if 5 repetitions are already demanding for you.

So is there a better progression solution?

There is!

Try this simple trick: hold your rep count at 5, and instead add one pound or so onto your barbell; then, as you continue with these small increments several times, you will effortlessly achieve your equivalent one-rep gain without any perceived training difficulty.

In Summary

Does more weight or more reps build your body best?

Learn why lifting more reps isn't always the supreme strength training strategy.


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More Weight or More Reps to Muscle Building