HEAVY is a Relative Term


I spoke to some dude in the gym earlier this week. He was giving me a roundup of his current chest program. He said that he is doing 125 for his flat bench which he said was heavy for him. But I don’t think so; I saw him earlier doing that weight for at least 8 and more reps.

Most lifters make the mistake of classifying a weight as “heavy” or “light” based upon the poundage itself. This is wrong.

Heavy and light are relative to the person lifting the weight. One can only tell if a certain weight is heavy or light based upon the maximum number or reps he or she can with that given weight.

8 reps for a given weight is NOT heavy. 8 reps is just right on the spot for a hypertrophic response. 5 reps and below is heavy and is most efficient if your goal is strength. 12 or more reps on the other hand is what one could consider as “light” and just a little more and you’d be crossing the endurance zone. Ronnie Coleman generally lifts “light” around the 12 reps range.

What’s Heavy for you is light for Johnnie Jackson – Johnnie’s lifting light on that photo:

johnnie jackson lifts ligt

However for lower body 12 to 15 reps tend to be the hypertrophic range. But more than 20 reps is too light. Therefore if you can already do more than 12 reps for upper body and 16 reps for lower body – increase the weight until you get back to 6-10 reps (upper body) or 12-15 reps (for lower body) which is the efficient range for stimulating muscle growth.

By the way don’t forget to do “periodization”. One way to do periodization is you can put your rep ranges at the heavier range of the efficient range (example: around 6 reps for upper body) for 2 months and on the “light range of the efficient range for other 2 months (example: around 10 to 12 reps for upper body). That will allow your body to be shocked continuously so that it will continue adapting. Eat your eggs, people!

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