Heavy weight Training Makes You Bulky: A Fallacy.
By Vishwa on Training
November 30, 2009
It is a general perception that heavy weights make you bulky, and likewise low weights with high reps are best suited to stay thin. Posters of bodybuilders on gym walls and bodybuilding magazines are to be blamed for the above statement. Any individual, who wants to be fit and healthy, would approach a gym to pursue his dream and after watching the bodybuilding posters would be petrified to join that gym, as I have heard many of them suggesting me when they come to enroll that they would never wish to grow to such monolithic proportion. We should be very clear that in most of the cases the huge muscle bulk we see in bodybuilders in gym wall posters and in bodybuilding magazines are all steroid users. In addition, they also belong to the genetically elite group which means that building muscle is relatively easy for them. Whereas, average men/women like many of us who want to be fit and pose a healthy body, cannot build muscle to such gargantuan proportions, as we lack the genetic potential when compared to the above mentioned athlete and importantly we would never dream of supplementing with steroids as that would defeat the whole purpose of flaunting a healthy body. On the other hand, I have seen many who are afraid to supplement with whey protein, at the least, for they fear that to be a chemical which helps in building huge muscles. However, it requires many years of consistent and diligent effort to possess a descent physique, lest a herculean physique. In addition, proper exercise programming integrated with a well supported nutritional plan, and supplementation is also paramount to build a muscular body.
It is a very well known fact that weightlifters, power lifters, track and field athletes are the ones who train with heavy weights. For example, as quoted in Dr Mel Siff’s books Facts and Fallacies of Fitness, Boris Becker (two time Wimbledon winner) Ben Johnson (world class sprinter) and Mike Powell (long jump record holder) all trained with heavy weights. If you can recall how Becker was on the tennis court, you can notice that he was one of the most athletic player till date. It also suggests that he was not in any way a man who possessed monstrous muscle belly. It is also very well known that power lifters and weight lifters are no way closer to the muscle belly which bodybuilders pose though they train with heavy weights in relation to bodybuilders. Likewise, power lifers and weightlifters rarely indulge in executing high number of repetitions for any given exercise. They are most of the time lifting super heavy weights for very less repetitions, as their training is aimed towards strength, power, and skill rather than hypertrophy. In addition, among the bodybuilding community, it’s a rarity to find a bodybuilder who trains very heavy. Also, if we watch any of the training videos of these elite bodybuilders we see that they experiment a lot by doing various exercises and they also tend to play around with different repetition range(usually moderate to high repetitions). Naturally, performing high repetitions which bodybuilders more often engage in cannot be executed with heavy weights. Dr Mel Siff very clearly sums up when he says, “Most bodybuilders have found that training with moderate to moderately heavy weights, rather than with maximum weights is a better way to enhance muscle hypertrophy. Moreover, the majority of top bodybuilders use anabolic-androgenic steroids deliberately to accelerate hypertrophy, because it is the aim of their training to become massively bulky. Olympic weightlifters, on the other hand, who often train with extremely heavy weights, do not develop this enormous hypertrophy, simply because strength and power, not bulk, are the primary goals of their training”.
He further adds “massive hypertrophy is not the automatic result of heavy weight training-instead this is a result of the appropriate genetics, an appropriate training programme, careful nutrition and very often, supplementation with legal and illegal ergogenic aids.” Most of my gym clients train with heavy weights for low reps. As a result none of my clients are huge carrying monstrous muscle belly. In addition, none of us indulge in the use of anabolic-androgenic steroids. So, stop whining and lift heavy weights, for the results will speak for themselves which you will never regret. And do not commit yourself to perform high repetitions, for you may develop unwanted(sarcoplasmic) hypertrophy.
PS: To read more on sarcoplasmic(unwanted) hypertrophy, please read the blog entry titled Functional Training and Its benefits.