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1RM vs. Varied weight resistance training, which one is best?

Strength and hypertrophy adaptations between low- versus high-load resistance training: A systematic review and meta-analysis.


Schoenfeld BJ1, Grgic J, Ogborn D, Krieger JW.

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The purpose of this paper was to conduct a systematic review of the current body of literature and a meta-analysis to compare changes in strength and hypertrophy between low- versus high-load resistance training protocols.

Searches of PubMed/MEDLINE, Cochrane Library and Scopus were conducted for studies that met the following criteria: 1) an experimental trial involving both low- (≤60% 1 RM) and high- (>60% 1 RM) load training; 2) with all sets in the training protocols being performed to momentary muscular failure; 3) at least one method of estimating changes in muscle mass and/or dynamic, isometric or isokinetic strength was used; 4) the training protocol lasted for a minimum of 6 weeks; 5) the study involved participants with no known medical conditions or injuries impairing training capacity.


One Rep Max (1RM) results:

A total of 21 studies were ultimately included for analysis. Gains in 1RM strength were significantly greater in favour of high- versus low-load training, while no significant differences were found for isometric strength between conditions.

Volume Training results:

Changes in measures of muscle hypertrophy were similar between conditions. The findings indicate that maximal strength benefits are obtained from the use of heavy loads while muscle hypertrophy can be equally achieved across a spectrum of loading ranges.

To conclude, depending on what your fitness goal is, you will have to train according to that requirement. Those looking to gain strength and muscle size ultimately should be looking to train with a lower rep range (6 to 8) with a higher (60% of 1RM) weight.

For those individuals who want to burn fat, cut down and/or maintain their size and strength they should be looking to do a mediocre rep range (10-15) with a medium (35%-45% of 1RM) weight.

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