Can You Get Stronger With Only Light Weights?
This shocked me.
It didn't think it would be this high.
82% of 2000 Americans say they workout at home.
Over the past 2 years more people have turned extra space into a home gyms.
For obvious Covid reasons. But this workout at home trend seems to be continuing.
- It's convenient.
- Zero judgement.
- No travel.
- No time restraints.
- Save a lot of money.
Yet, there's one glaring issue with home workouts.
Most workouts, kinda suck. They're...
- Heavy on the hype train
- And most provide zero training or real coaching
Plus, home gyms lack the one thing that make a great gym... great...
A Variety Of Weights
Like a lot of things, the price of weights has skyrocketed over the last two years.
But damn! A 35lb kettlebell costs $70 now.
If you think that's high, check out Kettlebell Kings. They're 35lb kettlebell costs over $100.
And that doesn't include shipping.
It's insanity out there.
It's enough to make you ask...
"Can you build muscle if you only have light weights?"
The Secret To Building Muscle
The only way to build muscle is through progressive overload.
You have to stress your muscles and force them to adapt to intense stimulus.
It's the only way to:
- Build more muscle
- Get stronger
- Burn body fat
- Increase flexibility
- Improve balance
- Become more flexible
You have to ride the fine line of too much intensity to get the results you want.
The easy way to progressive overload is by increasing the amount of weight you're using.
Great if you have access to a lot of weights. Though it's missing one key ingredient. I'll tell you in a minute.
- What if you only have a few weights.
- And what if your heaviest weight is only 15 pounds?
Are you out of luck and regulated back to the gym? Or to suffer in weakness forever?
Increase Rep Volume
Find a baseline for how many reps you can do with your light weight before it becomes very... VERY... tough to complete the next rep.
Track this number. It's important.
Push yourself to beat this number each time you workout. Though there are many ways to overload your muscles.
- If last week you did 3 sets of 25 squats...
- This week do 3 sets of 30 squats.
- Or instead of 3 sets, do 6 sets of 25.
"Old school" training forced us to believe high reps only increase endurance, not strength.
However, new school training says otherwise:
A 2019 study found that light weight with high reps had nearly the same outcome on muscle growth as heavy weight with low reps.
It all comes down stressing your muscles.
Think in terms or weight volume used over the entire workout. Here's what I mean.
- If you do 10 reps of 100 lbs for a squat... that's 1,000 lbs total volume.
- If you do 20 reps of 50 lbs for a squat... that's 1,000 lbs total volume.
It's the same 1,000 lbs of volume.
But you have to make sure you complete all 20 reps in a row. You can't break them up too much or you won't stress your muscles.
What's the downside?
There's more, but I think this is a HUGE benefit.
I also think it takes little more mental toughness to go with lighter weights. Your muscles will burn more.
It will be more mentally taxing to get through high rep counts with your muscles are on fire. If you can force yourself to keep pushing... you'll develop a badass level of mental strength.
Here's something else you can do.
Increasing Time Under Tension
Increase the amount of time your muscles stay active. I.E. working.
Take 3-5 seconds to complete the eccentric (lengthening) portion of a repetition. This is called a negative rep .
(You can do the same for the concentric as well.)
This is incredibly effective for strength training.
This study compared slow, lighter weights (50% 1RM) to high intensity strength training and found it lead to equal strength and muscle gains.
There are 3 parts of a rep:
- Concentric: Shortening
- Eccentric: Lengthening
- Isometric: No movement. Stabilization
During a bicep curl, curling your dumbbell up towards your shoulder is the concentric phase.
Lowering back down is the eccentric.
And if you were to hold it mid movement, that's isometric.
If you were to decrease the speed to take 3-5 (or even longer), you'd place a lot of tension on the muscles and encourage strength adaptation.
One last thing about negatives...
They're hard so you have to go light.
That's why they're so perfect if your weight options are low.
Okay... we've covered increasing reps and increasing time under tension.
I've got more for you.
Try Harder Moves & Variations
Challenge yourself by doing new (harder) variations of fundamental exercises.
If squats are boring and you're tired of doing 100 body weight squats, try...
- Narrow squats,
- Bulgarian split squats
- Heel raised squats
- Prisoner squats
- Single leg squats (pistol)
- There are so many great squat variations
Make sure you sign up for my 5 Minute Mondays for some FREE workouts or come train with me LIVE in Fit Women's Weekly LIVE .
If conventional deadlifts aren't burning your hamstrings and glutes like they used to, try...
- Single leg deadlifts
- Hip thrusts (single leg are so tough)
- Kettlebell swings variations
- There's more!
Have fun challenging yourself to learn new skills and movements.
You might struggle with new movements. This is the point. It's why they work to produce new results.
While you learn the move, your body will become stronger!
Results come from consistent challenges and if your workouts aren't challenging you, they aren't changing you.
Before you start your next workout, ask yourself...
"Am I ready to go outside my comfort zone?"
If yes, great!
If no, consider making some changes like...
Trying Fit Women's Weekly LIVE and the Ignite Reset for 14 days to see just how fun AND challenging fitness can be.
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Workout LIVE or workout with a video replay.
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Every day has a goal for you to hit... just follow the plan.
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