CS.Fit | Casey Simmons


The Best Way to Strengthen Your Muscles

The Best Way to Strengthen Your Muscles


A recurring question that I often receive is: Which is actually the best way to strengthen my muscles?

The first option is light weights with high reps, which is geared more towards muscle toning and endurance. Heavy weights with low reps are more for muscle bulking and increasing power.

Both of these approaches are beneficial depending on what your end goal is. However, before starting one or the other, it’s important to solidify your desired result into a concrete objective and plan.

If muscle tone and overall increased endurance is your goal, then CS Fit is a perfect match for you.

Beginners or those who are getting back into seriously working out may be unfamiliar with term one repetition maximum (1RM). This is the maximum amount of weight that can be lifted/generated for one rep.

Weight and the number of repetitions are inversely related as the number of repetitions goes down as weight increases. 1RM tables are incredibly useful and accessible for anyone to use in order to target their desired fitness goals while using the right amount of weight for their body.

Fitness Goal: Strength

If your goal is ultimately increasing your overall strength, low reps with heavy weight are the way to go according to research. While high reps with light weight is not the route commonly taken in order to achieve strength, there is still much strength that can be gained from it.

Powerlifters train with focus on increasing neuromuscular adaptation. By obtaining control over the efficiency of the brain to control the muscles, it becomes easier to gain strength through muscle size. By combining the two (muscle size and neuromuscular adaptation), you will be able to significantly increase your strength, more so than with one or the other.

Fitness Goal: Fat Loss

Is lifting heavier weights conducive to burning fat or is it only good for building muscle? Will you turn into something resembling the Hulk?

Studies have shown that dieting weight lifters and dieting individuals who only did cardio lost the same amount of weight. However, those who did only cardio lost both muscle and fat while weight lifters only lost fat and retained (and gained) muscle.

It is becoming increasingly evident that the intensity of the workout is what burns the most fat, rather than the amount of weight used or the number of reps.You want to create muscular failure with less time between exercises. This can provide you with powerful calorie burn, hormonal, and metabolic effects.

While an intense workout or amount of weight used has a large part in fat loss, proper nutrition will have the biggest impact.

A few things to keep in mind to optimize fat loss with nutrition:

  • Dark leafy greens like spinach and kale contain essential minerals that help your body heal from working out.
  • Getting enough protein is key. After working out, it is advisable to eat approximately 20-40 grams of protein.
  • Complex carbs are more reliable sources of energy than simple carbs. By eating whole grains and oats, sustainable energy will be produced to power your body.
  • STAY HYDRATED. This cannot be stressed enough. Working out while dehydrated means that you will be too tired and mentally weakened to give your best athletic performance. Adding electrolytes to your water is helpful if you sweat heavily or work out in excessively hot conditions.

Fitness Goal: Building Muscle

Most people are under the impression that the more weight you lift, the quicker you will build muscle. This isn’t true, as building muscle is something that progresses over time by slowly increasing the intensity of the workout and eating the correct amount of calories. Raising the amount of weight will not help you gain muscle mass if you don’t eat more calories than you burn. Women tend to have more issues with this, they possess only a tenth of the testosterone (the muscle-building hormone) that men have. Any increase in strength with a deficit in calories is probably due only to neuromuscular adaptation, not muscle mass increase.

Benefits of Using Lighter Weights

The goal of strengthening muscles without gaining the bulk is a commonly desired result of many of my clients, especially in the female demographic. This fitness approach embraces lighter weights or even no weights, targeting the type 1 muscle fibers which are otherwise known as slow-twitch muscle fibers. Type 1 muscle fibers provide the body with stamina and endurance.

Doing more reps is easier with lighter or no weight. By doing the correct form with a high amount of repetitions, your body is more likely to create the right muscle memory for proper form. Chances of injury or pain are drastically decreased if proper form is adhered to. Another advantage of maintaining the correct form is that it challenges the body’s muscular endurance. Low weight-high rep exercises would be just about impossible for your average person to do with weights over 10 pounds for the exact same amount of time.

Lighter Weights Reduce the Risk of Injury

Exercising with lower weights and higher repetitions significantly reduces risk for injury because it decreases the load and strain that are put on the joints versus during exercises with higher weight. Accessory muscles are not the ones being strengthened, which means the intended muscle groups are the ones gaining the desired strength ESPECIALLY with the correct form.

Each way of resistance training has its own pros and cons

Low weight and high reps training means that recovery and rest periods will be short between workouts and sets. Consequently, the amount of calories burned is higher with less pressure put on the joints.

On the other hand, high weight and low repetitions will take longer to build up bulk. Muscle gains are much more noticeable quicker when lifting heavier weights. While the pros are worth it, the flip side is that a longer recovery period is necessary for the muscles you are training, workouts will be longer, and the likelihood of injury is stronger as your joints are placed under a lot of stress.

CS Fit was established to give everyone an effective, safe, intelligent, and ENJOYABLE workout experience, no matter the end goal. Workout programs that have been meticulously crafted with well-informed thought behind them have always been my specialty.