Share the Weight: the benefits of mixing light and heavyweights

A new study shows that the best way to build and maintain muscle is by integrating both light and heavy weights, while training.

Published: 30th January 2022 05:00 AM  |   Last Updated: 29th January 2022 05:50 PM   |  A+A-

Express News Service

All the huffing, puffing and heavy weightlifting are not going to take you far. A combination of heavy and light strength training will show lasting results, according to new research.  Published in the journal, Sports Medicine, the review emphasises the need to mix things up to build endurance and a toned body. “When you lift heavy weights you create lean muscle, and when you lift lightweights, you promote fat loss. The upshot of this is better muscular hypertrophy. Additionally, you don’t have to spend hours in the gym. If done consistently, the technique requires only 30 minutes,” says Delhi-based physique trainer Gul Malhotra. 

Doing multiple sets come with an added advantage. Two to six are recommended. If you are an athlete, a professional fitness instructor or have experience with weight training, you can go higher than six sets. A two to three minute gap between each is recommended. Never overdo weight training as the process damages muscles. The good part is that the body repairs these muscles but ‘delayed onset muscle soreness’ caused by microscopic muscle damage in the process is a side-effect to watch out for. 

Maintaining proper form while undertaking weight training is crucial to avoid an injury. “A common mistake people make is to start with heavyweights in all their initial enthusiasm. Start with one kg dumbbells and make your way up. Focus on form rather than reps. As a rule of the thumb, keep the body tight. Feel the contraction in the target muscle group. Beginners should perform these while standing instead of sitting. Free weights are better than machine weights. Better still, speak to your coach and see what works best for you. Take a demonstration to understand the mechanics of each exercise better,” says Malhotra.  

The benefits of mixing low and heavyweights are plenty. “It increases metabolism, whereby you burn more calories. You gain stronger muscles over time. Your functional fitness levels see a marked improvement, and bone density increases, besides you feel more energetic,” says Malhotra. The traditional model of weight training comes with a major pitfall. It tends to fatigue you fast. There comes a point when instead of building hypertrophy or muscle growth, your body plateaus with little progress thereafter. “Constantly increasing the weight value exhausts the body and it does not give the nervous system a chance to adjust to the new fibre activation in the muscles,” says Malhotra, adding, “You can begin with low reps with heavyweights that will aid in muscle-building, in addition to combining it with high reps with lightweight to increases muscle resilience.”

Doing this is only a part of the equation. The other important link is nutrition. “Make protein—the dietary building block of muscles —your best friend. The ideal amount for gaining muscle is 1.6 grams per kilogram of body mass,” says Chandigarh-based nutritionist Parag Tokas.

Break down your meals into six or seven servings in a day, when weight training. This stabilises blood sugar levels and fires up the metabolism. One of these meals should be a pre-workout meal. “Scheduled eating maximises digestion, curbs overeating and prevents bloating. Include lean protein such as chicken, fish, and turkey. Vegetarians can have Tofu, tempeh, and lentils,” says  Tokas. 

Don’t run away from carbohydrates. These biomolecules give you the energy to power through a muscle-building workout. “Spread out your carb intake through the day, giving your body the chance to break it down properly. 35gm is more than sufficient for one meal,” says Tokas. This should prepare you for all the ‘heavy-lifting’ to stay fit.

Why mixing weights help

✥ Lifting heavier weights helps in building muscle, while lightweights build functional stamina
✥ Mixing things up prevents reaching a plateau. When your body gets used to a certain workout, it does not give the results you want.
✥ Combination weight training builds more muscle endurance and improves range of muscle motion
✥ The process does not exhaust you 

Best sources of protein and complex carbs during weight training 

Eggs: Besides healthy fats, one egg has six grams of protein
Chicken: Contains 31gm of protein per 100gm
Tuna: Not just protein, Tuna is full of vitamins
Salmon: Rich in both protein and Omega-3 fatty acids

Beans: Choose any kind—black, cannellini, pinto, kidney, 
lima, chickpeas. All are great sources of lean protein
Tofu: Rich in protein and calcium
Cottage cheese: Packs in 25gm of protein per serving
Greek yoghurt: Offers 5gm per 100gm
Quinoa: This offers about 8gm of protein per cup
Peanuts: These nuts have the highest protein content out of all the commonly found nuts


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