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Make Light Weights Part of Your Routine

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I’m an advocate of lifting heavy to build strength and muscle mass. For most of my workouts, I try to stay in the 4-6 rep range. However, I do believe occasionally lifting light weights can help round out your fitness routine.

For example, I’ve been having trouble with my squats. When I was younger I did not give my legs the attention they needed so now that I’m in my 40’s (47), my legs remain a weak point. I’ve been trying to focus on building strength in my legs and even though the amount of weight I can squat has been increasing, I don’t feel the same level of confidence squatting as I do when doing a bench press. My legs are shaky and I don’t feel the connection with my leg muscles.

The bottom line is that my nervous system is unfamiliar with moves. I don’t have the same mind-body connection that I do with my upper body. The key to resolving this is to simply do more squats with perfect form which will help develop the neural pathways. The problem is that, at my age, I can’t do squats with heavy weights more than once per week – I’ve tried and found that it doesn’t give me enough recovery time between sessions.

My strategy at this point is to do moderately heavy squats (rep range 6-10) one day and very low weight squats another day (nonconsecutive). On the low weight day, it’s all about form and not going to failure. I’m probably not stimulating the muscles enough to grow on my low weight day but that’s not the goal. I’m just trying to train my nervous system. I am also building muscular endurance and helping to develop connective tissues. I am training myself so that I can give 100% (or more) on my heavy squat day.

Using light weights gives you an opportunity to really take it slow and focus on form. I know of a lifelong bodybuilder who would use light weight for weeks when adding a new exercise into his routine. He’s still working those muscles with other exercises but is patient enough to only add the new exercise when his body is trained to handle it.

For a person of my age and size, I’m really proud of my chest routine. I can go to extreme levels of intensity and really push myself, getting that extra rep or two beyond failure. I believe the reason I can do this is due to my early years of doing a sick amount of push-ups. I have such an intimate connection with the muscles in my chest, triceps and wrists so I know how far I can push them.

Go heavy or go home, but if you do go home, give light weights a try.

 

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Written by Tim ThinkAuthor

May 11, 2014 at 4:47 pm