Seven benefits of heavy resistance training
Here are seven benefits of how using heavy resistance can maximize the results from your fitness program.
- Training for muscle strength is different than training for muscle size. A six- to 10-week strength-focused mesocycle of heavy resistance and low reps followed by a six- to 10-week hypertrophy (bodybuilder) mesocycle of moderate weight for higher rep ranges can produce significant gains in both size and strength.
- Using heavy weights increases intramuscular coordination, the number of type II motor units and the amount of muscle fibers engaged within a specific muscle. Have you ever felt your muscles shaking while lifting heavy weights? This is because you are recruiting and activating the larger type II muscle fibers, which are only stimulated to work when a muscle is challenged with heavy resistance or working to fatigue.
- Using maximal loads for compound (multi-joint) movements like the deadlift, squat-to-shoulder press, bent-over row or chest press can improve intermuscular coordination, which is the ability of many muscles to work together to generate and control high levels of force through multiple joints.
- Lifting heavy weights elevates levels of anabolic hormones—specifically testosterone, growth hormone and insulin-like growth factor (IGF-1)—which are used to repair muscle fibers damaged during exercise. This helps the muscle fibers to become thicker and capable of generating higher levels of force.
- Lifting heavy weights increases production of the hormone IGF-1. This hormone is related to the production of brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF), which is a neurotransmitter responsible for stimulating the growth of new neural pathways in the brain along with enhancing communication between existing pathways. In short, lifting heavy could make you smarter by enhancing cognitive function.
- Training with heavy weights helps you to improve your self-confidence. Knowing that you can lift heavy stuff gives you the confidence that you can handle common challenges, such as a putting a bag in the overhead bin on an airplane or carrying a heavy piece of furniture while reorganizing a room or helping a friend move.
- Strength training with heavy weights improves muscle definition. Muscle definition occurs as the result of muscles remaining in a state of semi-contraction and heavy strength training recruits the larger type II muscle fibers responsible for a muscle’s appearance.