Lifting heavy weights is a proven method to build more muscle. It’s the reason we go to a gym where we can find machines and devices that are purpose-built for lifting. The heavy weights we lift provide an artificial load for our muscles to basically trick them and our brain into believing we need to do hard work regularly so new muscle must be created. Even if we really sit behind a desk all day or drive a vehicle or otherwise don’t really need that muscle for our everyday work of lifting heavy weights.
Lifting Heavy Weights is Stress
But there is an aspect to this that we must accept. It’s very hard to lift heavy weights and that puts stress on many systems of the body, from the muscles to the connective tissue to the organs that need to clear the waste products out of our body when we are done lifting. By definition it requires an enormous amount of exertion relative to how much we usually stress ourselves. The truth is it is actually a lethal level of stress. It is literally possible to work a human to death over a period of time and these absolute peak levels of exertion would speed the process.
It is also true however, that lifting heavy weights and building muscle has an enormous number of healthful benefits. I’ve talked about these before, they are well-known and include improved hormone levels, stronger joints, higher bone density, better self-image and much more. So there is also no question that resistance training is beneficial.
Many things share this same paradox. Virtually every medicine we take and nutrients from water to vitamins can also be taken to toxic levels of consumption. Too little vitamin A and you can get very ill, too much and your bones get weak and brittle, lethargy takes hold and you’re very sick.
So how much vitamin A should you take? How much iron? How much blood pressure medicine? The smart answer – the only answer, in my view – is to take just the amount you need to ensure your health and fitness but no more. After all, why take more of a potentially lethal substance than is absolutely necessary?
Minimum Effective Dosage
From the very beginning of my interest in lifting weights and building muscle I have been fixated on what is called the “minimum effective dose” in the world of medicine. That’s exactly why, over a period of nearly twenty years we have experimented to determine how little exercise is necessary when lifting heavy weights to build muscle. The answer so far? A five-second static hold will stimulate substantial muscle growth in all the large skeletal muscle groups. Thousand of people have proven this in hundreds of thousands (perhaps millions) of Static Contraction workouts.
Knowing that, what would be the argument for adding more stress to the body and the systems that support the body when lifting heavy weights? Why push farther toward the level of detrimental dosages? Why heap extra stresses on your tendons, ligaments, joints, muscles and supporting organs once the effective dosage of lifting heavy weights has been reached? I have never been persuaded that there is a good argument to exceed the minimum effective dosage.
If you are lifting heavy weights to build muscle, for goodness sake, train smart.