Working out with higher weights and fewer reps versus lower weights and more reps is a hot debate. The only definite is that picking up any weight is better than nothing.
But how much and for how long depends on your intended result.
If you’re just starting out, start low and work your way up. Lower weights will help you master your form to prevent injury, and then increase reps or weight to challenge your muscles and stamina.
If you are looking to sculpt your muscles, start with a moderate weight for 8 to 10 reps. You can also keep your weights low and train to fatigue, meaning your last two reps should be a challenge.
If you don’t need a break after your set, you aren’t challenged enough.
If you want a sleek and toned look, stick to lower weights with higher reps. To start, grab 5-pound dumbbells with high reps. If your body feels bored or the workout is too easy, add a higher weight or add resistance bands.
Of course, if just building strength is your end goal, heavy weights are the answer.
Remember, strength is relative. If you’re not picking up progressively heavier weight, then you’re not building strength. You need to constantly load your muscles to build new fibers.
One study revealed that after eight weeks of strength training, those who lifted heavier weights with fewer reps had more strength. But the study also showed that people who lifted with lower weights but high reps had more muscle-building activity.
Regardless of the weights and reps, consider mixing higher weights and fewer reps or lower weight and more reps into your workout to keep your body in its best condition and to keep yourself from getting bored.
Basically, if you are doing the same workout over and over with no substantial increases in load, sets or frequency, you will see a decrease in positive changes.