In the fitness world, the statement is often heard…”light weight, high reps.”  What does that mean? “Light weight, high reps, is one of the most misunderstood statements in fitness.  Honestly, I usually hear this statement from people who shy away from hard work. (not just in the gym, but many times in regular life)  In an attempt to clear up this statement, and maybe take it out of your vocabulary, let’s look at some false assumptions.

False Assumptions:

1) Heavy makes you bulky

2) The more I sweat the harder I worked

3) Light weight makes you toned

Let’s take a look at false assumption #1) Heavy makes you bulky

Heavy is not the culprit of bulk.  Yes, it is true, when you want to gain bulk, you left heavier.  There are other factors that contribute to gaining bulk.  ie. Increased calorie content, decreased repititions, increased rest period.  There are also genetic and hormonal factors that contribute to bulk.  The point of the weight is to break down the muscle tissue to repair stronger.  If you remain with the same weight, you remain at the same strength.  This essentially defeats the purpose of weight training.  TRUTH: The stronger you are, the more calories you burn at rest.

Assumption #2) The more I sweat, the harder I worked

Sweat is a poor indicator of work intensity.  Yes, when you work, your body produces heat, and sweat is used to cool your body down.  However, people sweat at different rates.  Again, there are more factors than intensity that lead to sweat.  ie. temperature, hydration, clothing, and other genetic and hormonal factors.  People sweat when seated, nervous, or merely strolling through the mall.  The point of sweat is to cool you down.  Merely “breaking a sweat” does not constitute a workout.  It just means your body is not at it’s normal temperature.

Assumption #3) Lightweight makes you toned

Before the season, bodybuilders may lower their lifting weight and raise their reps to “cut” in preperation for a show/comptition.  However, given the circumstance, this is not “light” weight.  They also follow a strict diet to ensure their success.  For the general population, “light” weight tends to fall somewhere between a bag of sugar and the 2lbs dumbells used for aerobics videos.  ”Light” weight still needs to have the ability to break down muscle.


Resistance training is an important part of fitness.  The goal is to break the muscle down.  Weight needs to be appropriate enough to break down muscles.  The body needs to learn to move efficiently.  If exercise doesn’t challenge our body to become stronger, we lose it’s purpose.  Exercise increases the body’s efficiency on all levels.  As the body adapts, our workouts and resistance must change.  That will include increasing the amount of weight lifted.  Avoid the idea of “light weight, high reps,” and embrace the idea of “right weight high reps.”

In order increase bulk however more factors than weight lifted are needed.  In the grand scheme, just because you’re looking to be toned doesn’t mean you should avoid lifting heavy.  Lifting heavy weight is actual important in toning muscles.  If you find yourself “bulking up,” DO NOT blame it on your heavy weights. Examine the entire picture. ie. calorie intake, cardio activity, sleep, food quality etc.  Some days, you just need to “lift heavy”, regardless of your goal.

As a side note, credit can be given to the statement, “anything is better than nothing.” It may be the first step of motivation, but don’t stick with it. Continue to improve.