Most Common Mistakes - Lifting Too Light
It tends to be women more than men who fall victim to this common mistake (men are far too macho to lift light weights).
The most common reason is the fear of “getting too muscley”, along with some people just not willing to push themselves in the gym, or simply not realising that they need to be lifting heavier.
Others think it’s too risky and they’ll end up getting injured (this will only happen if your technique is poor or you’re trying to lift too heavy. If this is the case, seek the help of a qualified Trainer to oversee your training and ensure you have both good technique, and are using the appropriate weights).
Lifting too light (or not at all) is a HUGE mistake, for a number of reasons.
Firstly, lifting weights and working hard are essential for building strength which, as I’ve said many times before, has no downside. If you want to stay fit and healthy and mobile into your old age, it’s vital that you build, or at least maintain, as much strength as possible.
Secondly, resistance training places stress on the bones and joints, which also helps stave off osteoporosis, again helping you out in old age.
Thirdly, if you want to change your body shape, burn excess fat, and “tone up” (i.e. get a firmer look), you’ll need to be working your muscles regularly. If you wave around the 2kg weights your muscles aren’t likely to be working hard enough to really firm up. The harder you work your muscles, the firmer they will get - light weights might “burn” but they won’t tone your muscles any time soon.
Fourth, most gym-goers, and women in particular, struggle to gain any substantial amount of muscle even when they are lifting heavy and working hard. For women it’s mostly because of a much lower testosterone level than men, which makes it incredibly hard to gain a lot of muscle tissue (so hats off to those that do manage this without “help”).
Even for men, who do have adequate testosterone levels - muscle just can’t come quickly enough! Just ask any guy in the gym!
Fifth, a lot of people do far more “cardio” than they need to, leaving little time for weights. For anyone not training for a marathon or the likes, this is a mistake (although even the marathon runners would benefit hugely from including strength work in their program). Aim to train with weights at least twice a week, and lift as heavy as you can for your target rep ranges, with good form.
There are multiple other reasons that lifting light weights is of little benefit, but these main ones should hopefully be enough to convince you.
Do bear in mind that “light” and “heavy” are relative. For some people, lifting a 5kg weight overhead will be heavy, for others it’s barely a warm-up.
“Heavy” means at the limits of what you can do with good technique for a given rep range.
What is heavy to some is light for others.
As long as you’re working yourself as hard as you can, the actual weight you’re lifting is irrelevant - just aim to gradually increase it over time in order to build strength.
Whilst there’s definitely a place for high rep work, it’s not likely to build much strength or change your shape too much.
Low to mid rep ranges (5-15 reps per set) will do more for your strength than hundreds of lightweight reps.
Ironically, for those afraid of getting bigger, the heavier weights will firm the muscles up more and the high rep “light” work will actually “pump” your muscles more and give the perception of bigger muscles!
So definitely don’t avoid lifting heavy if your goal is just to tone up. It won’t make you big unless you’re training AND eating for muscle gain.
Lifting light may have its place, but for the majority of people wanting to look and feel better, your focus should be on getting stronger and working a bit harder.
DO NOT avoid lifting a bit heavier!