Do I Need to Lift Heavy to Get Big?

Each time someone hits the weight floor of the gym gets stunned by this question. Should someone lift heavy to get bigger muscles? Well, the answer is partially both yes and no.

Heavyweight will definitely make you bigger; however, strength and endurance will be an issue at that time. We used to know that only lifting heavy can make you stronger. It looks like there is a paradigm shift taking place.

Recent studies found that even lightweight with high reps can generate the same results. This finding makes the question more valid now. Do I need to lift heavy to get big? Let’s dive into the discussion to see whether we can fathom any solutions.

Why do I need to lift heavy to get big?

Lift heavy or higher reps

Once upon a time, 3 to 5 reps with heavier weight was the trademark of the bigger and muscular people. Celebrities like Jack LaLanne or Arnold Schwarzenegger set up the trend of heavyweight lifting.

It is evident that heavy lifting was not everyone’s cup of tea. Thus, heavier and bigger muscles became a distant dream for many. Eventually, fitness enthusiasts and gym-rats realized that lightweights could do the same magic too.

All you have to do is to increase the reps within the range of 8 to 12. Higher reps ensure your muscles are stretching and constantly compressing for a longer period of time. This is a great way to enhance muscle endurance and build muscle-brain sync.

The muscle-brain sync is a unique combination of muscle and brain to focus and train the muscle. This way, you can concentrate on every muscle group and train them to gain the maximum outcomes.

The significant difference between the heavyweight and high–reps methods is in their outcome. Heavier weights will make you perform any job quickly; nevertheless, you can’t continue the same pace for an extended period.

Think about how a Cheetah accelerates. It is the fastest animal on earth, but only for a few seconds. On the contrary, muscle endurance gained by the low weight and high reps won’t let you get tired that quickly. Thus, you can perform the same job for an extended time without getting exhausted.

All muscles do not respond equally to same weights

All exercise methods do not work equally. In the same way, all the muscle groups of the human body won’t respond to the same exercise methods.

The heavyweight exercises with low reps may be effective on Type II or “fast-twitch muscle fibres.” These muscles require high resistance to twitch. Therefore, the heavier weight makes them move more effectively.

Despite the low number of reps, these robust muscles can grow bigger quickly with more weight. This finding is still under the experimental phase; nevertheless, they have established a robust correlation until now.

The next topic is “slow-twitch muscle fibres.” As the name says, these muscles stretch and compress slowly. Therefore, heavier weights may generate counterproductive outcomes like muscle damage and failure.

Longer reps ensure constant workout of these muscles. In this way, they can train themselves slowly but steadily. These muscles maintain a constant supply of energy and support when you are working on it.

One thing is evident that both methods have a unique effect on a particular muscle group and the outcome. Thus, it will not be feasible to choose one over another. In fact, a balanced approach can be the only solution.

SAID principle can be an answer

The SAID principle said that our body could adapt to almost any stress if it is introduced slowly or stayed for a longer time period. The acronyms stand for “Specific Adaptation to Imposed Demand.”

However, the adaptation process is not done by any single method. In fact, it is a combination of techniques that make a balanced approach to endure the change.

Now you may ask how the SAID principle is related to the choice between heavy or lightweight training programs. Well, both programs require a particular part of the body to be adapted to the program.

Only the high weight and low reps will strengthen a few groups of muscles. Especially muscles with larger cross-sectional areas works best with those. On the contrary, slower muscles on the small cross-sectional regions are more effective with lightweight and high reps.

The SAID principle combines both methods to endure the body to the mixed approach of the heavy and lightweight. This training strengthens the longer muscles, whereas sustaining the short muscles at a time.

The SAID principle can be considered as the middle ground between the two approaches. It offers effective outcomes to form the combined method of mixing heavy weightlifting and high reps.

One of the main purposes of the SAID principle is to apply the stress eventually and slowly. This ensures the body and the brain is ready for it. Besides, the body becomes capable of enduring the changes and generating the expected outcomes.

Continuous practice under the SAID principle is highly effective for sports and fitness. This enhances agility as well as strength. So, according to what we have learned before, following the PAID will make us complete the job without getting exhausted too much.


The reply to the question of whether you should lift heavy to get bigger is still sceptical. There is not a definitive answer yet fully backed by established data. However, the existing search shows a clear paradigm shift to low-weight and higher reps.

The mixed approach, blended with both power and endurance training, is making its way to the mainstream. According to the SAID principle, the middle ground between the two approaches is more effective than one single method.

Now. It is much easier to answer that burning question. Yes, you need to lift heavy; however, you have to do some high reps with low weight. Your next session in the weight room in the gym should be less perplexing without seeking the answer—instead, more concentration on workouts.