What do you guys think of this?
Building muscle doesn't require lifting heavy weights: study
HAMILTON, ON. August 10, 2010 – Current gym dogma holds that to build muscle size you need to lift heavy weights. However, a new study conducted at McMaster University has shown that a similar degree of muscle building can be achieved by using lighter weights. The secret is to pump iron until you reach muscle fatigue.
The findings are published in PLoS ONE http://www.plosone.org/article/info%...l.pone.0012033
"Rather than grunting and straining to lift heavy weights, you can grab something much lighter but you have to lift it until you can't lift it anymore," says Stuart Phillips, associate professor of kinesiology at McMaster University. "We're convinced that growing muscle means stimulating your muscle to make new muscle proteins, a process in the body that over time accumulates into bigger muscles."
Phillips praised lead author and senior Ph.D. student Nicholas Burd for masterminding the project that showed it's really not the weight that you lift but the fact that you get muscular fatigue that's the critical point in building muscle. The study used light weights that represented a percentage of what the subjects could lift. The heavier weights were set to 90% of a person's best lift and the light weights at a mere 30% of what people could lift. "It's a very light weight," says Phillips noting that the 90-80% range is usually something people can lift from 5-10 times before fatigue sets in. At 30%, Burd reported that subjects could lift that weight at least 24 times before they felt fatigue.
"We're excited to see where this new paradigm will lead," says Phillips, adding that these new data have practical significance for gym enthusiasts but more importantly for people with compromised skeletal muscle mass, such as the elderly, patients with cancer, or those who are recovering from trauma, surgery or even stroke.
I think this has been known and generally accepted by bodybuilders for quite some time but it's still good to have science to back up something like this.
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I don't buy it.
This guy can write up as many so called studies as he wants, but the only study we need is this;
Compare the guy who goes into the gym and squats 750 lbs for 5-10 solid reps to a guy who goes in and does 250 for 24 reps. Who do you think will have more muscle on their legs?
I'm not saying high volume can't help some people, but I think the biggest guys on this planet built there muscular dense physiques by pushing some massive weights. Maybe later on in life they dropped down the weight and did more volume and maybe even put on more muscle, but I still believe heavy weights > light weight high volume.
Better yet though, heavy weight high volume. This article states 30% weight for 24 reps, heres a video of Platz (best legs in bodybuilding history) doing 500 lbs for 23. Its obviously no where close to 30% of his workload, if it was, he'd be squatting 1500 lbs for 1.
In the end though, everyone is different, so anyone can claim whatever they want.
So basically, they've just realized the repetition method is one way of producing muscle tension. This is 30-40 years behind the times.
It's funny because Simmons has talked about very, very high rep work in his articles.
my n00b journal
This proves nothing, but
Last edited by joey54; 08-11-2010 at 07:25 PM.
Do we really need another study that confirms that untrained individuals will see improvement doing just about anything?
Then again, this study didn't even really confirm that, because after their intense leg extension workout trial was over, the authors never even measured which group had put on the most mass, or gained the most strength.
Last edited by Kastro; 08-11-2010 at 08:49 PM.
I don't think this study proves anything of the sort the title says it does. To note just one thing they use the term "assumption" several times throughout the study. And for another look at the last three paragraphs of the study. Read the first sentence of the first two. Then read the last sentence of the last paragraph. Just from those sentences alone you can tell that the data is incomplete and includes speculation.
Now my personal take on this:
Lifting consistently to failure (unless it's well-monitored) is as likely to overtrain you as to build muscle.
Sure you can build muscle without lifting heavy weights. But if anyone thinks that they can build optimum muscle mass/strength without ever lifting heavy weights (and remember "heavy" is a relative term)...I'd have to say they are absolutely on the wrong track.
Last edited by Songsangnim; 08-11-2010 at 10:37 PM.
But would you rather lift heavy for 15 minutes or lift light for 45 minutes to get the same effectiveness?
Last edited by Coqui; 08-12-2010 at 02:27 AM.
Articles and studies like these do more harm than good for new/inexperienced trainees.
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We also might do that for one or maybe two exercises, not the entire accessory workout.
As far as the study, I'd have to agree the guy is correct. You could kinda argue that the vid of Tom Platz, he's working his muscles to fatigue. The article doesn't say that you have to use 135lbs for your squats forever. Because Tom was such a strong squatter, 500 wasn't heavy at all for him.
Jay Cutler is another prime example. He's made it very clear over the years that he doesn't train using super heavy weights.
What the article leaves out is its definition of light and how people should know when to progress.
For beginners I feel its really important to get a good mix of BOTH, some good heavy training in addition to the high rep work. The high rep work really pushes a lot of blood in the muscles and ligiments which aids recovery. All by itself though it's not going to be quite as productive initially because they are unable to move heavy enough weights to make a good impact on their muscle breakdown.
But, Jay has also stated in the years he spent trying to catch and then pass Coleman, he did more basic, heavy movements. And, light weights to Jay is relative. Dude was benching 315 for high reps in high school. A mixture,like Travis suggests makes the most sense to me.
Specific Adaptation to Imposed Demand.
Requiring the body to lift a small load multiple times will cause an adaptive response, this we know. Skeletal muscle will need to enlarge to store more glycogen, mitochondrial density may increase (to speed energy conversion), you'll see an increase in number of contractile proteins (as more contracting sub-structures provide greater protection for each individual piece)... at least so common knowledge goes (and it's true enough)
So yes, it's nice when research finally offers some support to things we already "knew".
However, big caveats... Bear in mind this research was done by a PhD student who perhaps didn't choose the most applicable loads or exercises. The subjects did leg extensions with either 30% of their 1RM or 90%. I don't know too many people who do 90% work for hypertrophy. If he had compared 30% of 1RM to 60-80% of 1RM in a true multi-joint movement, the findings might have been more applicable.
Also, if you read the discussion:
"We report for the first time that low-load high volume resistance exercise (30FAIL) is more effective at increasing muscle protein synthesis than high-load low volume resistance exercise (90FAIL). Specifically, the 30FAIL protocol induced similar increases in MYO protein synthesis to that induced by the 90FAIL protocol at 4 h post-exercise but this response was sustained at 24 h only in 30FAIL. Furthermore, the MYO response in 30WM are in agreement with those of Kumar and colleagues  who demonstrated a dose-dependent relationship of exercise-load when volume (i.e., external work—expressed as repetitions×load) is equalized. In contrast to recommendations , that heavy loads (i.e., high intensity) are necessary to optimally stimulate MYO protein synthesis, it is now apparent that the extent of MYO protein synthesis after resistance exercise is not entirely load dependent, but appears to be related to exercise volume and, we speculate, to muscle fibre activation and most likely to the extent of type II fibre recruitment."
If you read the last sentence, your "Duh, really?" meter might start dinging.
If you'd like to read the entire study: http://www.plosone.org/article/info:...e-0012033-t002
What these sorts of studies do is give interesting information, but a little more scrutiny is required when it comes to drawing conclusions. Sure, high repetition work may be good for short term hypertrophy, but would you use that alone for a program designed to make you notably bigger and stronger? To what extent will the body plateau on that sort of training?
Primary concern to almost anybody on this board is sustained gains.
So what you can gain from this study... keep doing what everybody tells you to do, which is a mixture of both high rep low weight and low rep high weight work.
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Here is a very good round table on that article.
Success is achieved by doing a little more than you thought you could, and a lot more than anyone else.
Unilateral leg extensions? **** that study.
Im sure higher rep stuff COULD work, but it sucks monkey balls, and almost nobody will do it. A set 100 BW squats isn't going to build huge legs. Maybe a set of 50 with 315, but ya, that would not be fun.
Also, the added benefits of being stronger only come about by by increasing loads, not increasing just reps.
I agree with others, these studies are just useless. You dont see guys in the gym benching 225 for sets of 40-50. You see guys either doing 95lbs for 20 reps, or 135 for <10 reps. And if they go any heavier, they immediately become 1/2-1/4 reps.
As for squats, nobody is ever doing 20 rep squats with anything over 135. And the same phenomenon of ROM decreasing as weight goes up is also true here.
EDIT: Also I dont know enough about hypertrophy studies, but i'd actually like to see some real world results, and not just changes in protein synthesis rates with a small sample of just 15 people.
Last edited by Dan Fanelli; 12-14-2010 at 06:52 PM.
What works for a 4 or 12 week study with untrained individuals or twits is hardly what is going to make anyone big...
My quads aren't getting any bigger with 100 lbs squats...
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One more thing to add.
"Participants reported engaging in lower body exercise such as resistance exercise alone or in combination with cycling more than three times weekly for the prior six months."
So we know that each week they were training with weights for more than 3 times a week for at least the last six months...for all we know some could have been training even longer than that. Then again we don't know how long they trained per session, what exercises they used, what weights they were lifting...in those months prior to the study
All of course which makes the study questionable at best in terms of proving its objective.
This is a great example of how for every good scientific study out there, there exists many bad studies. This seems to be a particular problem for this field of study IMO.
3 hour gym sessions FTL?