By Matt Evans published
When you think of getting stronger or toning up, most people think of Arnold Schwarzenegger pumping gigantic, heavy dumbbells in the gym. However, you don't have to lift big heavy weights in order to really see an increase in fitness, strength and muscle tone.
This is especially good news for those who are currently in a second lockdown situation, and only have a certain size of our best adjustable dumbbells or light weight to choose from.
For experienced lifters, heavy weights are still essential for getting stronger. However, if you are just starting on your muscle-building journey, there's plenty you can get done by sticking with lighter weights.
A study published in the Journal of Applied Physiology looked at 49 lifters who used lighter and heavy weights to encourage strength and muscle growth. Both groups "trained to failure", until they physically couldn't complete the exercise. While the lighter weights obviously took a lot longer to get to this point, it was found similar results could be achieved with both light and heavy weights.
In fact, even if you don't train to failure, you can gain benefits from light weights. If you lift something heavy, you often struggle to maintain control, lowering your weights very quickly once you reach the apex of the lift.
Not so if you try using less weight. You're able to lower your dumbbell or barbell under control, which contributes to the muscle-building process. The process of lowering your weight is known as the "eccentric phase" of a muscle-building movement, and the slower and more controlled you're able to make it, the more strength you'll build. It's as important as the actual lifting phase, according to the journal Frontier Physiology.
It's also much safer for beginners to use a weight they know they can lift and lower easily: heavier weights lifted without good form lend themselves to a greater risk of injury.
If you're training with weights, try taking things down a notch to reap the rewards.
Matt Evans is an experienced health and fitness journalist and Channel Editor at Fit&Well. He's previously written for titles like Men's Health and Red Bull, and covers all things exercise and nutrition on the Fit&Well website. Matt originally discovered exercise through martial arts: he holds a black belt in Karate and remains a keen kickboxer and runner. His top fitness tip? Stretch.
Why are so many sports earbuds wireless?
FITNESS They can soundtrack any workout, but why are most sports earbuds wireless?
By Louise Bond • Published
Pelvic floor exercise can help protect your health as you age – Here’s how it’s done
Health Looking after your pelvic floor can make life a lot easier when you're older and it takes up very little time
By Jessica Downey • Published