The secret to muscle building is not heavier weights; say scientists from McMaster University, but to pump iron for longer with lighter weights until you reach muscle fatigue. Published in the journal PLoS ONE, the new study contradicts current gym dogma.
"Rather than grunting and straining to lift heavy weights, you can grab something much lighter but you have to lift it until you can't lift it anymore," says McMaster's Stuart Phillips. "We're convinced that growing muscle means stimulating your muscle to make new muscle proteins, a process in the body that over time accumulates into bigger muscles."
The study shows it's really not the weight that you lift, but the fact that you get muscular fatigue that's the critical point in building muscle. The researchers used light weights that represented a percentage of what the subjects could lift. The heavier weights were set to 90 percent of a person's best lift and the light weights at a mere 30 percent. "It's a very light weight," says Phillips noting that the 90-80 percent range is usually something people can lift from 5-10 times before fatigue sets in. At 30 percent, the subjects could lift that weight at least 24 times before they felt fatigue.
"We're excited to see where this new paradigm will lead," says Phillips, who believes the study has practical significance for gym enthusiasts and for people with compromised skeletal muscle mass, such as the elderly.
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Source: McMaster University