Heavy Resistance V Light Resistance in Bodybuilding Exercises
It's one of the most controversial questions in the gym, which is better: lifting very heavy weights a few times, or lifting lighter weights longer?
In other words, which is the better bodybuilding exercise for muscle gain – heavy resistance or light resistance? First of all, the terminology needs to be defined.
Resistance Exercises - This is where body muscle is built up by subjecting them to resistance. The weights actually cause microscopic damage to the muscles. This is called "catabolism." When the muscles repair themselves, the muscles are regenerated and grow stronger. This is termed as "anabolism." This is where the term "anabolic steroids" comes from.
Heavy Resistance Exercises - Heavy resistance bodybuilding is lifting weights so heavy that the maximum amount of times this can be done is 6-10 times before the 'fail', i.e. when you can't lift any more.
Low Resistance Exercises - This is where the weights are lighter and therefore cause less resistance. These can be lifted for a much longer time before the fail. A general rule would be that the fail occurs around 90 seconds after the first lift.
Which Is the More Effective Bodybuilding Exercise
There are different schools on which is better. In the last few years there have been various studies into which is more effective in building muscle - heavy resistance training and low resistance training. These studies indicate that low resistance training can be more effective in bodybuilding for muscle mass than heavy resistance training.
The key is in how resistance training affects protein synthesis, anabolic signaling, and gene expression. The participants were asked to engage in sessions of heavy resistance and then in low resistance exercises.
In the heavy resistance training, participants were asked to lift 80kg for as much as they could do. The average was 5 times. The other group had to lift around 28kg for as much as they could do. The average was around 24 times. What the study showed was that, in total, the ones who had the low resistance program lifted a total of 1073kg as opposed to 710kg in the heavy resistance program.
Another factor was protein synthesis. This is what causes muscles to grow and the process continues after resistance training. Therefore, what happens in the muscles after resistance training is just as important as the actual amount of lifting.
The study showed that just after the bodybuilding exercises, the protein synthesis was similar. However, it showed that 4 hours after training the protein synthesis in those who engaged in low resistance training was higher and after 12 hours significantly higher.
These results suggest that low resistance training is more effective in building muscle than high resistance training.
Guide to Bodybuilding Workouts for Awesome Ab
Abs are the one muscle group that almost everyone wishes they had and that almost everyone wants to make more impressive. The abs are often considered among the ‘sexiest’ muscle groups and are a sign that a person is slim, toned and athletic. At the same time, building great abs gives you strength and performance benefits that can bleed into every other aspect of your physical ability. That’s because the abs provide your core and give you the strength to stabilize yourself during other movements.
But the problem is that many people have no idea how to workout to build their abs. With that in mind then, read on and we’ll explore what makes the difference between a six pack and a beer belly.
The first thing to recognize is that you need to reduce your body fat percentage if you’re going to have visible abs. You can have the strongest muscles possible here but if you don’t lower your body fat percentage, then they still won’t be visible.
Note that you can’t target fat loss. This means that one of the most important keys to building visible muscle here is to make sure that you incorporate CV in order to burn fat as well.
Engaging the Abs for Bodybuilding
Another thing to recognize is that you need to actually engage your abs during workouts. Many people will perform ab exercises but won’t actually be building their abs so much as their hips. The hip flexors can perform a very similar job to the abs by folding the body in half but of course they don’t have quite the same visual appeal (if you ask most people).
In short, if you are performing sit ups and leg raises so that your body folds at the waist, then it’s not training the abs. Instead, you need to actually roll the abs and curl your stomach around through the movements.
The Different Ab Muscles
Making your bodybuilding life more confusing is the fact that you actually have multiple different muscles in the mid-section. The ‘abs’ as many of us think about them (the six pack) are defined by your rectus abdominis – the muscle plate that sits on the front of your stomach and has the six indentations we all want to achieve.
Meanwhile though, you also have the transverse abdominis. The purpose of this muscle is to provide support for the lower spine and also to ‘hold in’ the stomach. Workingout this muscle is not only important for performance; it also helps you to create flatter abs. You can hit this muscle by using the myotatic crunch (a crunch performed over a bosu ball so that your back goes past flat) or by using the ‘cat vomit’ exercise that involves sucking your abs in while on all fours to create an ‘ab vacuum’.
Finally, you have the obliques. These sit on either side of the rectus abdominis and give you more definition here as well as the ability to torque. Build them using twisting sit ups and similar movements.
Why Mechanical Drop Sets Are the Secret to Successful Bodybuilding Training
If you’re looking to build more body muscle, burn more fat and generally get into the best shape of your life then bodybuilding training has an awful lot going for it. This is a way to work out that will allow you to train anywhere, to build better ‘strength to weight ratio’ and to increase the challenge as you progress. You don’t need any equipment, you don’t need any instruction… just drop and give me 20!
But that said, there are ways and ways of using bodybuilding training and unfortunately a lot of people don’t approach this in the right way.
Because if you compare a bench press to a press up, it is immediately apparent that the former provides a significantly greater challenge. A bench press allows you to lift 50, 100, 150k… whereas a press up means lifting a third of your bodyweight. So what do you do to increase the challenge?
You can always perform more repetitions but ultimately this is only going to become a resistance workout rather than helping you to build size and strength.
And that’s why mechanical drop sets are so critical…
What is a Mechanical Drop Set?
For those who are not au fait with bodybuilding parlance, a ‘drop set’ basically means a type of workout where you are continuously dropping the amount of weight you’re pushing or pulling against. Each time you max out your strength and can’t perform another repetition, you decrease the weight by moving the pin and that allows you to keep going. This is called going ‘past failure’ because you are continuing to train to the point where your muscles have started to give out and where normally you would be forced to stop.
A mechanical drop set essentially means that you’re doing the same thing. The difference is that this time you’re not moving a pin or changing your dumbbell – because you can’t when you’re just using your muscle mass.
Instead, a mechanical drop set means that you’re changing the exercise to make it harder or easier, while still focusing on the same muscle groups. So for example, you might perform 10 one handed pushups and then immediately switch to regular push-ups. This way you have gone ‘past failure’ again and you should feel the burn in your pec muscles. There’s no break in between and this way you can create the maximum number of microtears to really stimulate your bodybuilding growth and strength development.
Incorporating These into Your Training
If you’re used to doing circuits or just doing sets and reps, then this might come as a shock at first. It’s time to stop thinking in terms of ‘3 x 10’ and instead to think in terms of ‘how can I get my body to respond?’. You need to learn to feel when your muscles are aching in the right way and know how far to push them to stimulate growth. Using drop sets of any sort is one of the very best ways to do just that.
How to Train Your Legs with Bodybuilding Exercises
Training the legs is something of a hot topic among bodybuilders and athletes. Gym goers who ‘skip leg day’ are often referred to unfavorably and for good reason; training the legs has knock-on benefits throughout the entire body whereas leaving them out tends to make you look disproportioned and odd.
The question then is why so many people leave legs out of their bodybuilding routine in the first place. And the answer is a) legs are boring and b) legs are hard to train.
The simple fact of the matter is that your legs don’t have hands attached to them. And this means it’s harder to pick up a weight, thus meaning you have to load yourself up some other way and involve the whole body. That instantly reduces the number of exercises available to you and means that leg exercises necessarily take up more space and leave you a lot tireder.
And it also makes it much harder to train your legs with bodybuilding weights alone. But there are ways. Read on to discover some of the best of them…
One of the simplest ways to build your legs with your bodyweight alone is to use jumping squats. This simply means that you’re squatting down and then jumping at the apex. This is a simple exercise and you wouldn’t think that it would make a huge difference – but it is great for building up power and can quickly create a burn thanks to the amount of acceleration involved.
Speaking of which, box jumps require even more power to launch you high enough into the air – especially if you stack them high. This is in some ways just as challenging as a squat and a great way to build hamstrings, quads, calves and hips.
This is simply a lunge where you jump, switch legs in mid-air and then land with your legs in the opposite position. Doing this is a great way to build strength in the hamstrings and again involves jumping to create more acceleration.
Simply walking by stepping from one lunge into the next. This is a surprisingly effective workout because you’re plunging so deep in between and spending the majority of your time under tension.
Single Leg Squat
Another way to make the squat more challenging with just bodybuilding is of course to do it on just one leg. This then requires twice the strength and also forces you to balance a lot as well. A more advanced version is the ‘pistol squat’ which requires your foot to be flat on the ground while the other one is pointed straight out in front of you, toes facing up.
This is between a squat and a lunge and involves stepping out to one side, lunging deep and then stepping back to the middle before repeating on the other side.
Finally, a sissy squat is a squat you perform by leaning back and going up on your toes. Your knees point forward and you lean back like Neo. This is tough on the joints so more of a party trick to be used sparingly!