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Training Volume: Low Load Versus High Load

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Training volume with kettlebells

A new study provides insight regarding whether to go heavy with fewer reps or to go lighter for more training volume if the goal is muscle growth. For untrained men, training with low loads to muscle failure promotes more hypertrophy than not training to failure; in contrast, when training with high loads, muscle hypertrophy occurs even if failure is not achieved, according to a study published in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning and Research (2022; 36 [2], 346–51).

Researchers from the University of São Paulo, Brazil, concluded that when using low loads, training with a high effort seems to be more important than total training volume to increase muscle hypertrophy. When training with a high load, muscle failure does not provide any additional benefits. Overall, muscle strength gains are superior with higher weight loads.

See also: Training Loads for Women Over 40

Shirley Archer-Eichenberger, JD, MA

Shirley Archer, JD, MA, is an internationally acknowledged integrative health and mindfulness specialist, best-selling author of 16 fitness and wellness books translated into multiple languages and sold worldwide, award-winning health journalist, contributing editor to Fitness Journal, media spokesperson, and IDEA's 2008 Fitness Instructor of the Year. She's a 25-year industry veteran and former health and fitness educator at the Stanford Prevention Research Center, who has served on multiple industry committees and co-authored trade books and manuals for ACE, ACSM and YMCA of the USA. She has appeared on TV worldwide and was a featured trainer on America's Next Top Model.

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