TOLL FREE: 877-347-7506

Low Weight, High Rep: Can You Even Make Gains, Bro?

If you haven't seen a flock of meatheads snickering derisively at the soccer moms on the other side of the weight room lifting 5-pound dumbbells for over 20 reps per set, then you obviously haven't been to a gym lately. Most people assume there's no benefit whatsoever to lifting low weight for higher reps. But is this just an old wives tale, or is there a kernel of truth behind the flak that low weight high rep workouts get? As your number one authority for everything health, fitness, and muscle, we here at have taken it upon ourselves to get to the bottom of this mystery. And we found some very interesting results.

High Reps Low Weight

MuscleHelp Presents: Reasons to Love Low Weight, High Rep Workouts

Maybe you are a soccer mom who wants to sculpt those sexy Michelle Obama arms without getting too bulky. Or maybe you're a typical gym rat who just finished a hard bulking phase, but you can't quite see those sexy new muscles without flexing really hard. In either scenario, you need to work on muscle tone. Personal trainers have known for decades that the best way to improve muscle tone is to lift light with high reps. 20% To 25% of your ORM for about 20 reps per set is the most commonly agreed-upon sweet spot. But feel free to experiment with the weight load and rep range that works best for you.

Another area where low weight, high rep becomes useful is for people over the age of 50. If you have gone through menopause (or andropause, for the fellas), you're going to start to experience signs of bone and or muscle loss due to natural changes in your sex hormones. Lifting low weight, high rep is a good way to counterbalance these changes. It's harder to recover from injuries as you get older, so it'll help you get the workouts you need without putting your body under excess amounts of stress. It's also useful for people who either haven't worked out in a very long time, or who are just starting to get into fitness and exercise.

Reasons Not to Give up on High Weights, Low Rep Workouts Just Yet

There are still many things that a high weight, low rep workout can do for you inside as well as outside of the gym. So you shouldn't give up on these workouts just yet. Lifting heavy can help you meet your fitness goals, no matter what they might be. Such as:

  • Heavy weight increases neuromuscular adaptation - among other things, neuromuscular adaptation is the process by which your brain helps your muscles lift heavier. It's the nerd way of saying "mind over matter". Improving your muscular adaptation strengthens your mind so that you can lift heavier matter - get it?
  • Heavy weight and HIIT cardio are two sides of the same coin - Lifting high weight, low rep is the strength training version of high-intensity interval training ( HIIT) cardio. As a matter of fact, studies show that athletes who attempted to lose weight by lifting heavy vs. people who stuck to a HIIT cardio routine lost the same amount of weight but lost more fat than those who were doing cardio alone. Intensity is key when it comes to getting lean and shredded, and lifting heavy can help you do that in spades.
  • Gaining strength as well as size - There are all sorts of different methods and strategies for increasing the size of your muscles. That mostly comes down to your genetics and how good your personal trainer is. But your overall strength - the difference between whether it's you or some other dude-bro lifting the heaviest weights in the gym - comes from lifting heavy and lifting often. So shoot for an 80 to 90% ORM weight load for 6 reps or less per set if you want to set new world records!

How to Lift Your Best Life

Here at, we know that you don't lift to live - you live to lift! So here are a few tips you should keep in mind while trying to balance your low weight, high rep and high weight, low rep gym routines. Creating a balanced workout is the best way to meet all of your fitness goals as quickly as possible.

We know it's tempting to try and lift heavy all the time. There are so many benefits, why not just go for it? Two words: system shock. The more shock you can send to your system, the easier it will be to lose weight fast, build bigger muscles faster, or hit whatever fitness goals you're aiming for. The more confused your body is, the harder it will work to recover from your exercise - emerging stronger, bigger, better, and more robust than before. But if you keep repeating the same old high weight, low rep workout again and again, your muscles will get bored with the routine. So keep your body guessing!

Also, make sure you get good sleep. There's so much evidence to support this that it's almost ridiculous that we have to keep going over it. According to recent sleep studies, even if you have a perfect day of eating right and exercising to your limits, most of your gains will be for naught if your sleep at night is of a poor quality or short duration. Adults should be getting around 8 hours of non segmented sleep in a cool, dark room with minimal distractions each and every night. That's the sweet spot for optimal health and wellness.

Good luck, and happy lifting - no matter how heavy or light your weights may be!