Metastudy review of 192 studies determines lighter weights and more reps builds more muscle than lower reps and heavier weights

BackInTheGame78

Moderator
Joined
Sep 10, 2014
Messages
13,701
Reaction score
14,575
Seems counterintuitive but apparently that is the result of the review of 192 studies in this metastudy.

All resistance training helps build both strength and muscle but apparently they determined lighter weights and higher reps built more muscle while heavier weights and lower reps built more strength.

 

BackInTheGame78

Moderator
Joined
Sep 10, 2014
Messages
13,701
Reaction score
14,575
“Builds muscle” is a nebulous goal. That’s why the “data” can say anything one wants it to.
OK, well to summarize, people who lifted lighter weights with more reps built more muscle than their counterparts who lifted heavier with lower reps when they analyzed 192 studies and their participants.

That seems pretty clear that if your goal is to build muscle as much as possible, you should probably follow suit.
 

sangheilios

Master Don Juan
Joined
Sep 25, 2018
Messages
2,645
Reaction score
2,710
Age
34
OK, well to summarize, people who lifted lighter weights with more reps built more muscle than their counterparts who lifted heavier with lower reps when they analyzed 192 studies and their participants.

That seems pretty clear that if your goal is to build muscle as much as possible, you should probably follow suit.
It's not rocket science. Muscle growth is heavily based on total volume of work and progressively doing more and more with each workout over time. If you are training heavy, near one rep max stuff with say a 3 sets of 3 reps you aren't going to grow much from just that alone. It's also much harder to recover from something like this than say doing multiple sets of 10-12 reps, also harder on the body overall.
 

JizzLord

Don Juan
Joined
Jul 29, 2023
Messages
10
Reaction score
6
This isn't new in the world of body building. However, something to be said is the mass gained from high rep training might come, in large part from a greater retention of sarcoplasm, as opposed to actual fiber growth.
 

Gamisch

Master Don Juan
Joined
May 2, 2022
Messages
3,291
Reaction score
4,072
So what do you guys say about this?

E.g i do benches. I start as heavy as I can for 1 set 8 times. Than I take off 40 pounds and do light weight ,2 sets like 12 reps or more .

Basically trying to combine the two concepts of both heavy and low weights.
 

JizzLord

Don Juan
Joined
Jul 29, 2023
Messages
10
Reaction score
6
Basically trying to combine the two concepts of both heavy and low weights.
Haven't seen any literature on this kind of program, but it couldn't hurt to try. I'm doing something similar myself.

Doing 1 heavy set (per week?) won't take you anywhere fast. Try 3 heavy sets per session and see if you get incremental progress from week to week.
 

EyeBRollin

Master Don Juan
Joined
Oct 18, 2015
Messages
10,721
Reaction score
8,644
Age
35
OK, well to summarize, people who lifted lighter weights with more reps built more muscle than their counterparts who lifted heavier with lower reps when they analyzed 192 studies and their participants.
I don’t need a study to tell me that a man that can deadlift 500 lbs is going to be bigger than a man that does a bunch of light weight dumbbell work.
 

BackInTheGame78

Moderator
Joined
Sep 10, 2014
Messages
13,701
Reaction score
14,575
I don’t need a study to tell me that a man that can deadlift 500 lbs is going to be bigger than a man that does a bunch of light weight dumbbell work.
Might also be because he is fatter since a lot of those people are strong with high body fat
 

Obee1

Don Juan
Joined
Jun 24, 2021
Messages
117
Reaction score
93
Age
56
Seems counterintuitive but apparently that is the result of the review of 192 studies in this metastudy.

All resistance training helps build both strength and muscle but apparently they determined lighter weights and higher reps built more muscle while heavier weights and lower reps built more strength.

I really love reading these studies so thanks for posting BackInTheGame78. As I've discussed before however, I hate it when the media takes it upon themselves to skew the findings with their lack of curiosity. The author basically tells the reader that this study of studies has finally put this debate to rest. What? You mean the previous 192 studies didn't? I'm still going over it but what I've gotten from it so far is that resistance training of any type is better than none at all. I suspect that the 192 studies, for the most part, used different variables from one study to another. Such as were they athletes, novices, old or young, untrained or trained? What were the lifts? How long of a training program did they use. Were they taking supplements and what were their diets? Were they taking measurements or biopsies? For 40 years I have spent about 75% of my training with low reps. I have more muscle than my 23 year old son who also lifts. If we did a 6 week study with him on high reps and me on low reps, I'll guarantee my son will have grown more new muscle tissue then me. IMO we need multiple studies using time under tension instead of reps. If I do 5 reps of 5 sets at 80% of my one rep max can I get the same muscle growth if the TUT was the same as 70% for 3 sets of 10-12 reps? I don't know but my N=1 experiments say yes.

Maybe high reps takes you 0-60 mph in 4 seconds whereas low reps it takes 10 seconds. Meaning they will put on similar muscle but it takes a little longer with low reps but you have the added benefit of better strength. I'm not knocking the study. I'm glad they're doing them. I don't purport to know more than these researchers either. I do truly enjoy reading these and learning from them as I have this one. I just don't like the lack of curiosity in the Yahoo writer. Some readers will not bother looking at the study link and then will take the writers conclusion/ opinion and pass it along as a irrefutable scientific conclusion. This study is not conclusive enough to change my approach to training. IMO, all rep ranges are needed as to grow type 1, type II, and type IIx fibers. I'm hopeful that Dr Brad Schoenfeld, Dr Andy Galpin, and Layne Norton will soon give their input on this study. All that said, I don't think the researchers in this study would agree with the Yahoo author's statement that the study has put the low rep/ high rep issue to rest. Keep them coming BackInTheGame78.
 

EyeBRollin

Master Don Juan
Joined
Oct 18, 2015
Messages
10,721
Reaction score
8,644
Age
35
Maybe high reps takes you 0-60 mph in 4 seconds whereas low reps it takes 10 seconds. Meaning they will put on similar muscle but it takes a little longer with low reps but you have the added benefit of better strength.
I am still skeptical as I bet these were studies with a lot of confounding variables and holes in them. That being said, my first comment was that “building muscle” as a goal is nebulous.

What is the point of “building muscle” without the strength to go with it?
 

Obee1

Don Juan
Joined
Jun 24, 2021
Messages
117
Reaction score
93
Age
56
I am still skeptical as I bet these were studies with a lot of confounding variables and holes in them. That being said, my first comment was that “building muscle” as a goal is nebulous.

What is the point of “building muscle” without the strength to go with it?
Couldn't agree more. On a "slightly" different topic but related to studies, in 2020 a paper was published in Nature by 9 researchers showing the high probability to catch cancer early by analyzing the microbiome in blood and tissue. https://www.nature.com/articles/s41586-020-2095-1. The study was cited hundreds of times in other papers and the data was also used in at least 10 other studies. There was also a commercial startup based on using the microbial sequencing as cited in the study. I'm sure millions if not billions of dollars have been raised using this 2020 study as evidence to it's viability. Three years later, like 3 days ago, the researchers published this. https://www.biorxiv.org/content/10.1101/2023.07.28.550993v1. This is why when someone tells me to "trust the science," I'm reminded that scientist are humans too. Like Ronald Reagan said, "Trust but verify." Now, let's just hope that Nicholas Cage doesn't come out with a movie this year. We all know what happens when he does. People die. Drownings.png
 

CAPSLOCK BANDIT

Master Don Juan
Joined
Jul 29, 2020
Messages
2,844
Reaction score
2,174
This is actually likely because your spending more time with lighter weights while the muscle is under strain, there are many studies now finding that a lot of exercises such as a bicep curl should actually be cut in half, you shouldn't be doing the full up and down but rather just half way up and back down, there's a word for it, I think it's Concentric but I can't remember and I don't have time right now to cite the source I'll do it when I come back or you guys can look

But I remember the results were significantly in favor of keeping the muscle in that place under strain as opposed to just a Rep which isn't a big surprise to me anyways it's just likely more prone to injury at higher weights doing that

Time Under Tension is the phrase for slowing your reps down, it's a well established concept I won't cite a source you can find it if you like, it's just basic logic to me

Yeah so under tension you go slow and then when in a mechanical movement you blow through it fast to create a pump a shoot blood into the muscle, pump is thought to be a very big factor in working out by many different PhDs like Renaissance Periodization on youtube for example but I remember reading a new study saying you could skip the pump entirely which I will cite below, thus cutting the Rep in half

).


Here's RP's video in favor of it, there are quite a few about pump I just picked the top one
 
Last edited:
Top