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Fitness and motivation

High Reps, Light Weights Vs Low Reps, Heavy Weights

By Karen Crudgington June 09, 2016

The fitness world can be a tricky one full of options and questions. Strength training tends to fall into two camps; those who lift heavier weights, fewer times and those who lift lighter weights more times. 

Karen Crudgington, Personal Trainer at Body Development, talks us through the different training methods, so you can work out what is best for you and your goals. 

"Whether an individual opts for low reps at a heavy load or high reps at a light load, is dependent on their training goals. Both can be the right choice, providing they suit the chosen outcome of the training.

Before discussing this any further I should also point out that whatever the rep number is, the muscles need to be fully fatigued by the end of the set in order to see effective results! High reps=light weight, low reps=heavy weight.

For Maximum Strength Training

1. If the goal is maximum strength in relation to body weight without a significant increase in muscle size, then 1-5 reps using a heavy load is preferred. The set should last up to 20 seconds.

For Functional Hypertrophy 

2. For functional hypertrophy, or an increase in both muscle size and strength, then around 6-8 reps with the set lasting 20-40 seconds would be suitable.

For Pure Hypertrophy

3. For pure hypertrophy (the kind of training commonly used for fat loss and body building), 
a rep range of 8-12 with sets lasting around 40-70 seconds is pretty effective.

For Strength Endurance

4. Finally for strength endurance training that’s used for muscular endurance (without any desire to gain any significant size of muscle) then anything from 13-20 reps is a typical range. The muscle will have a "toned" appearance, but more so when under load (when performing weights) than when at rest.

Programmes should also be periodised so that different rep ranges are used at the right time to prevent a loss of strength and to reduce stress to the central nervous system, particularly when using low reps and high loads. However, the subject of planned periodisation is another article for another day!"

Karen Crudgington

Written by Karen Crudgington

With over 14 years of experience as a personal trainer, I think its fair to say that I absolutely love what I do! I enjoy interval training, strength training and running. At my place of work, Body Development Bath, I specialise in training women and both taking and formulating our group training sessions. I have studied constantly throughout my career and continue to do so on my favourite subjects of fat loss, nutrition and group training. I also love travelling, music, art, good food and dogs!!


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