A New Way of Doing Heavy-Light Training you Haven’t Tried Before and Why I love it

Is cycling from 4 rep max for X sets to 10 rep max for X sets considered periodization, or is that effectively 100% all the time i.e. overtraining?

I understand low reps is good tension for strength building, ie 4 rep max, and I understand higher reps like 10 rep max is good for hypertrophy, and I want to combine both in one cycle. So I go : day 1, 4 reps for X sets; day 2, 5 reps for X sets; …… up to day 6, 10 reps for X sets. I am always lifting the max weight I can lift for that amount of reps, and I am always lifting the same amount of sets. I am just varying the amount of reps. Is this overtraining or acceptable periodization. I’m assuming one press exercise, one pull exercise, and squats. Abs I do wheel roll outs so that’s different.

(Asked by a perplexed musclehead on Quora)

My friend, I can see that you are doing a variation of the Light/Heavy training (or Heavy-Light whichever you want to call it!). Light heavy training was very popular in the old ages of resistance training.

Chuck sipes was one of the great bodybuilders of the old days to use Heavy/light workouts, and just to prove my point, here’s how he did it:


Two bars are loaded for the alternate exercises (one heavy, one light). Go from the heavy set to the light, pumping set without delay. Alternate Routine One and Routine Two and perform four workouts per week.


Press Behind Neck – 4 sets of 2 reps
alternated with
Barbell Front Raise – 4 sets of 10 reps

Bench Press – 4 sets of 1 rep
alternated with
Barbell Straight-Arm Pullover – 4 sets of 12 reps

Cheat Barbell Curl – 4 sets of 1
alternated with
Preacher Curl 4 x 12

Conventional Deadlift – 4 x 2
alternated with
Front Bend (with broomstick behind neck) – 4 x 12

Barbell Row – 4 x 2
alternated with
Lat Pulldown – 4 x 15


Lying Triceps Extension – 5 sets of 2 reps
alternated with
Pressdowns – 5 x 15 reps

Back Squat – 4 sets of 2
alternated with
Leg Extension – 4 x 15

Standing Calf Raise – 4 sets of 2
alternated with
Bodyweight Heel Raise – 4 x 20

Shrug – 4 x 8
Reverse Curl – 4 x 8
Abs – 4 x 20


And he’s no pushover, if you don’t know who Chuck Sipes is, then here’s a photo of him:

chuck sipes heavy light


That’s just a sample on a few of Sipe’s workouts using this method. We also have our own version of the heavy light routine. I even applied this to the 2 day a week split for individuals who cannot afford to go to the gym often.

What is good about this setup is that you can get the best of both worlds. Since one needs to maximize muscle growth but strength gains will also equate to more weight thus more poundage thus greater growth stimulus.

But this is NOT necessarily the best method for powerlifting training (just a disclaimer) – keep that in mind. A properly optimized powerlifting routine is designed to favour progressive overload or increasing the poundage one can carry in time. Powerlifting programs should also contain accessory exercises for the main lifts (whichever lift they would compete in).

Needless to say that it works; for one the mixed schemes would allow for a great carry-over no matter your goal (especially if your goal is mass gain). And furthermore it’s a great shock for the body to do light weights – not light weights per se but to do a scheme that focuses solely on sarcoplasmic hypertrophy (ones with rep ranges from 10-12) and then some bouts of heavy weights in the other session.

Is this a form of periodization?
Short answer NO; just because one uses both heavy and light schemes in one lifting week doesn’t mean that you are already doing periodization with that. BUT that is a part of the whole periodization scheme itself. I can see that being a part of a micro-periodization, wherein the changes in schemes are more frequent. In your next few months try to change it back to the normal scheme of workout so you can accomplish a “periodized” training thus giving your body multiple types of stimuli to work with.

Would I recommend the training scheme in question?
Yes I do! First of all the light/Heavy workouts have been used from the stone ages of bodybuilding and weightlifting by some of the greatest of all time and “it works”; simple as that! Furthermore what was presented there us an even more interesting way to do it which is to do heavy and light in separate days but in the same training week as each other.

What I recommend though is that you do the “heavy” training first in your training week. You need to be fresh if you want to do your 4 rep max properly.

Recommendation 2: “Failure”. Doing 4 reps is quite intense. Therefore you should do these 4 reps with a weight that you can do for a maximum of 5 reps, NO MORE, NO LESS! Why is that you ask? We all know that power sets are not really meant to be taken to failure, at least for it to serve its “power” benefits. Plus you would be doing more sets with a four rep max (since that should abide to the principle of less reps, more sets and vice versa) imagine going to failure with a heavy ass weight for 6 or 8 sets? That’s just crazy and unsafe!

Will this lead to overtraining?
No it won’t unless you take you heavy 4 rep lifts to failure! You will still train hard on your “light” days but you will still be working hard because the scheme that you will use on your light days will be the ones where your take a sets to failure and beyond. You could apply HIT techniques on those days like drop sets, inflitonic sets, Omni-contractions, pre-exhaust, etc.

Remember to eat well and take a post workout protein like eggs – at least 5 WHOLE EGGS (DON’T BE A PANSY ASS LICKERS WHO ONLY TAKE EGG WHITES) or some inexpensive whey protein like Optimum nutrition Gold Standard – this is not like Muscletech or other bodybuilding products with which prices are hiked because of hype. Gold standard is just as good as Muscletech Nitrotech but with only half the price!

Hope that helps! All in all train hard then EAT YOUR EGGS, PEOPLE!

A-Lifter- Don't forget to leave your comment/feedback below.  If this article was helpful, I am sure our book Real Talk Muscle will help you even more in your quest for muscle gain. Check it out you can read the first few chapters as well.
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