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The question of whether to use heavy weights or light weights to build muscle is one of the most common training questions. The answer is not so straight forward. The fact of the matter is that in order to build as much muscle as possible you better learn that you need to lift light weights at times and heavy weights at other times. In fact, there is a third way that you should be lifting as well if you want to get serious muscle.
In this video, I use the example of the shoulder side lateral raise to illustrate how to build muscle using both light weights and heavy weights on the same exercise. It has to do with the portion of the contraction that you are attempting to focus the overload necessary for building mass on. If you are looking to overload the concentric or positive portion of the lift then you better get used to lowering the weight that you are using.
That’s right. Leave the ego lifting at the door when you are trying to build muscle by overloading the concentric. Often times, way too much momentum is used to throw a weight up during the concentric on an exercise. This disperses the force from the single area that you are trying to build up to the many areas and muscles around the muscle in question and therefore weakens the overall effect on the target muscle.
On the contrary, if you are trying to stress the eccentric or lowering phase of a muscle contraction on a target muscle then you better get used to asking for help from surrounding muscles in order for this to work the best. In the example of the side lateral raise for shoulders, the middle delts can recruit additional help from the traps, rear delts and even torso muscles to safely help cheat the weight up into position where a stronger eccentric can be performed.
Relying solely on the amount of weight that can be strictly muscled up by the singular muscle in question will limit the amount of weight that you can use on an eccentric (and therefore will be limiting your size potential). This technique is actually something that you can apply to not just this one exercise but almost every exercise you can do.
That said, this combination of heavy weights and light weights is not enough to complete the picture. The explosive component of your training can only be achieved by using a weight that is in the middle of the two extremes shown here and focusing on accelerating the weight as you lift it. This introduces the element of power to strength. Power combined with concentric and eccentric overload makes your size and strength gains even more functional.
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