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Pumping Iron? A Lighter Load May Give Better Results [news]

Enough with the grunting and groaning at the gym. New research this week in PLoS One shows that, to build muscle, it's more effective to lift a lighter weight many times than to lift a heavy load that you can only manage five or 10 times.
Researchers at McMaster University in Canada asked a group of young men to lift the heaviest weight that they could (doing just one lift). Some of those men were then assigned, in the weeks that followed, to exercise doing sets of leg extensions with a weight that was 90% of their max possible weight, while others were assigned to do sets with just 30% of their max weight.

Members of the lighter-load group were consistently able to perform greater total exercise  volume -- that is, greater load X repetitions. More importantly, muscle biopsies and blood samples revealed that "low-load high volume resistance exercise is more effective in inducing acute muscle anabolism," the researchers write.

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