Heavier Reps Make Stronger Muscles. Full Stop.
“If you want to optimize the amount of strength you’re building, then training with lighter weights won’t cut it,” says Nathaniel Jenkins, Ph.D., an exercise scientist at Oklahoma State University. “You’ll need to include heavy-load training, at weights of at least 75 percent of your one-rep max.” His research found that exercisers who lifted heavier weights to failure for three sets of low reps and those who lifted lighter weights to failure for three sets of high reps saw similar changes in muscle size. “But heavy lifting caused greater increases in strength,” Jenkins says. That’s because heavy loads more effectively stimulate your motor neurons, cells that send electrical signals to muscles. As a result, you’re training your central nervous system to generate more force from your muscles. And you’ll feel that strength bonus in everything you do, from taking HIIT class to schlepping heavy bags. Level up now with these moves from Radan Sturm, the founder of Liftonic studio in New York City. Start with a set of weights that is a little heavier than what you’re used to. If you’re still able to do the last four reps at the same speed you did the first eight, go for more weight next time. And stick to the expert tips on these pages—they’ll keep you in great form as you work your way to a new personal best.