Building muscle without heavy weights

April 26, 2012

Weight training at a lower intensity but with more repetitions may be as effective for building muscle as lifting heavy weights says a new opinion piece in Applied Physiology, Nutrition, and Metabolism.

"The perspective provided in this review highlights that other resistance protocols, beyond the often discussed high-intensity training, can be effective in stimulating a muscle building response that may translate into bigger muscles after ," says lead author Nicholas Burd. "These findings have important implications from a public health standpoint because skeletal muscle mass is a large contributor to daily energy expenditure and it assists in weight management. Additionally, skeletal muscle mass, because of its overall size, is the primary site of blood sugar disposal and thus will likely play a role in reducing the risk for development of ."

The authors from McMaster University conducted a series of experiments that manipulated various resistance exercise variables (e.g., intensity, volume, and muscle time under tension). They found that high-intensity muscle contractions derived from lifting heavy loads were not the only drivers of exercise-induced muscle development. In resistance-trained young men a lower workout intensity and a higher volume of repetitions of , performed until failure, was equally effective in stimulating muscle proteins as a heavy workout intensity at lower repetition rates. An additional benefit of the low-intensity workout is that the higher repetitions required to achieve fatigue will also be beneficial for sustaining the muscle building response for days.

Explore further: How exercise helps you avoid a broken heart

More information: Burd, N.A., Mitchell, C.J., Churchward-Venne, T.A., Phillips, S.M. Bigger weights may not beget bigger muscles: evidence from acute muscle protein synthetic responses after resistance exercise. Applied Physiology, Nutrition, and Metabolism, 37(3): 551-554, doi: 10.1139/ H2012-022

Related Stories

How exercise helps you avoid a broken heart

January 16, 2012
Joseph Libonati, PhD, associate professor of nursing at Penn Nursing answer’s questions about how exercise betters your heart health. Dr. Libonati is a cardiac physiology expert who focuses on heart health and hypertension.

Increased muscle mass may lower risk of pre-diabetes

July 28, 2011
A recent study accepted for publication in The Endocrine Society's Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism (JCEM) found that the greater an individual's total muscle mass, the lower the person's risk of having insulin ...

Study finds popular muscle-boosting supplement does not increase blood flow

August 10, 2011
A Baylor University study has found that a popular nutritional supplement that is marketed to lead to greater muscle strength through increasing blood flow to the muscle does not increase blood flow as claimed on the bottle.

Brief, high-intensity workouts show promise in helping diabetics lower blood sugar: study

December 12, 2011
Researchers at McMaster University have found that brief high intensity workouts, as little as six sessions over two weeks, rapidly lower blood sugar levels in type 2 diabetics, offering a potential fix for patients who struggle ...

Recommended for you

New shoe makes running 4 percent easier, 2-hour marathon possible, study shows

November 17, 2017
Eleven days after Boulder-born Shalane Flanagan won the New York City Marathon in new state-of-the-art racing flats known as "4%s," University of Colorado Boulder researchers have published the study that inspired the shoes' ...

Vaping while pregnant could cause craniofacial birth defects, study shows

November 16, 2017
Using e-cigarettes during pregnancy could cause birth defects of the oral cavity and face, according to a recent Virginia Commonwealth University study.

Study: For older women, every movement matters

November 16, 2017
Folding your laundry or doing the dishes might not be the most enjoyable parts of your day. But simple activities like these may help prolong your life, according to the findings of a new study in older women led by the University ...

When vegetables are closer in price to chips, people eat healthier, study finds

November 16, 2017
When healthier food, like vegetables and dairy products, is pricier compared to unhealthy items, like salty snacks and sugary sweets, Americans are significantly less likely to have a high-quality diet, a new Drexel University ...

Children's exposure to secondhand smoke may be vastly underestimated by parents

November 15, 2017
Four out of 10 children in the US are exposed to secondhand smoke, according to the American Heart Association. A new Tel Aviv University study suggests that parents who smoke mistakenly rely on their own physical senses ...

How pomegranate extract alters breast cancer stem cell properties

November 15, 2017
A University at Albany research team has found evidence suggesting that the same antioxidant that gives pomegranate fruit their vibrant red color can alter the characteristics of breast cancer stem cells, showing the superfood's ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.