Well, the answer to that age old question, should I lift heavy or light weights really depends on you. What is it that you want? Are you trying to get very strong and powerful? Are you trying to grow big and look like the “Flex Magazine” people? Are you simply trying to keep some muscle tone, and get healthy? Do you prefer a “Men’s Fitness” physique?
One of my biggest fears back in the old days, when I used to train very heavy, was that if I didn’t train super heavy and hard, that I’d never grow or develop my physique. As such, I used to lift extremely heavy weight for someone my size.
At my lightest weight, which was about 155 pounds, I was bench pressing over 300 pounds regularly. During my heavier periods, walking at around 180 or so, I was throwing up about 410 pounds for about 5 REAL, unassisted reps. For such a small dude, this may sound impressive, but it is my belief that lifting this way is what jacked up my wrists so badly where I can’t even bend them anymore. My muscles may have been strong enough to lift the weight, but my frame wasn’t designed for such heavy loads, and I think that’s the price I’m paying now. This is however, all speculation on my part.
Using my current transformation, I’m going to provide you with my present theory. That is all this is, a theory. I may be completely off, or, this may be right for me, and not for you, but it’s worth noting.
These days I do a lot of cardio, by cardio I mean the elliptical, running, stair climber, and of course my HIIT classes. When it comes to strength training, I’ve pretty much shifted that into my classes. I teach two “strength” classes a week, and nearly every day I do some form of strength and conditioning training. In terms of lifting heavy weights in the back, I haven’t really been doing that these days. On occasion I’ll go back there and do some moderate bench presses, but my strength training has been coming from my classes, and the others I take.
Here is where it gets rather interesting. As my body is transitioning into a leaner specimen, in terms of my appearance, I don’t see much difference from how I looked on the days I lifted super heavy weight. Now granted, I was much stronger physically, and I appeared a bit fuller, but the difference thus far appears to be negligible to me. This could mean I wasn’t training right back then, it could even mean I’m not training right now. Or, it could simply mean that you don’t need to put yourself under 410 pounds of bone crushing weight in order to make the nearly same exact gains.
This is all speculation based on what I’m seeing today. I often wonder if I had included much more heavy weight training in my regiment, if I’d be much further along in this journey? Honestly, I can’t say. I can only speak on what I’m seeing, and this is my observation.
In strength classes, we work with rather light weight, but do dozens of repetitions. The focus is more on endurance and conditioning rather than simply on power. I do have one day a week where I work with a heavier kettlebell for squats, deadlifts, and farmers walks. On occasion I’ll do bench presses, but other than that, I’m just teaching and participating in classes. And without doing any ridiculous weight lifting, my body is still changing. Could I have changed more, or faster if I were throwing around super heavy weight again? I don’t know, but for my goals and purposes, I’m perfectly content with how things are going.
This is just something for you to consider. I’m not saying abandon weight training, NEVER! I’m saying don’t go hurting yourself by lifting beyond your abilities because you think it is necessary in order to make progress.