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Heavy or Light Weights Part 3
In our third instalment of articles on this topic, we are going to look at another study which compared the effects of either high repetition low load versus low repetition, high load on muscle hypertrophy. What makes this particular study interesting is firstly, the researches this time used a whole body resistance training program on resistance trained men, to eliminate the so-called N00B gains phenomenon. Secondly, the researchers also looked at the effect circulating hormones play on hypertrophy. As it is a commonly held belief that acute rises in anabolic hormones drive increases in lean mass.
Neither load nor systemic hormones determine resistance training-mediated hypertrophy or strength gains in resistance-trained young men.
Why they did it: Compared the effects of 12-weeks of either heavy or light whole-body resistance training in a group of resistance-trained men.
What they measured: Strength, hormone concentrations and body composition.
What they found: Both heavy and lighter resistance training programs were equally effective at increasing lean muscle mass and strength. Interestingly, the lighter weights, higher repetition program was more effective at increasing bench press strength. Finally, the researchers found no relationship between post-exercise circulating hormone levels, lean muscle mass and strength.
What does this mean: Lighter weight, higher repetition training programs can be equally effective at increasing lean muscle and strength in resistance trained men. As such, trainers and coaches should consider changing repetition and load schemes when or if a client begins to plateau particularly if they have been using heavier weights and lower repetitions for some time. The results also show that some upper body exercises like the bench press may benefit more from lower weight higher repetition training. Finally, the results of this demonstrated post exercise hormonal changes were not related to strength or lean muscle mass.
Morton, R. W., Oikawa, S. Y., Wavell, C. G., Mazara, N., McGlory, C., Quadrilatero, J., … & Phillips, S. M. (2016). Neither load nor systemic hormones determine resistance training-mediated hypertrophy or strength gains in resistance-trained young men. Journal of Applied Physiology, 121(1), 129-138.