Hypertrophy and Strength Changes Similar After Training With Heavy or Light Load

When training to repetition failure, load has no effect on hypertrophy or strength in experienced lifters— according to a study led by Stuart Phillips and Robert Morton from McMaster University in Hamilton, Canada. Test subjects performed three sets of nine to 12 repetitions to failure in four exercises, three times per week. Resistance was either heavy (75 to 90 percent of max for each lift) or light (30 to 50 percent of max). Both groups made substantial increases in strength and muscle mass, but there were no differences between groups. This study showed that training load has no effect on gains in lean muscle mass or strength following 12 weeks of strength training, three times per week to failure. This was a well-controlled study. However, at this time we cannot extrapolate these data to power athletes trying to increase strength and power for sport. (Journal Applied Physiology, 121: 129-138, 2016)

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