Jerry Brainum finally sets the record straight about lifting light weight and building mass muscle.

STRAIGHT FACTS WITH JERRY BRAINUM – is an in depth exploration of the more complicated elements behind bodybuilding training, nutrition, and supplements. Hosted by legendary and longtime industry expert, Jerry Brainum, Straight Facts answers user questions so no one is left in the dark.

Bodybuilding and heavy weights normally go hand in hand. The kind of hardcore massive weight that is conjured when thinking about stereotypes of bodybuilders. But for as long as bodybuilding has existed – people have debated whether or not you really need to lift heavy weight. One big reason for this debate is that lifting heavy weight constantly can lead to injuries – especially as you get older. But will you lose muscle mass for switching to light weight?

Jerry Brainum uses countless studies to prove that light weight can actually lead to the same exact results when it comes to muscle mass (but not necessarily strength). Sounds crazy? Well there is catch that many might not follow – leading to the misconception that you need to lift heavy. Get the straight facts in our episode above!

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68 COMMENTS

  1. Yes, you can gain a lot of muscle lifting light.. with certain techniques like super setting, giant sets, to failure, full body.. so on… But you cant build huge dense muscle unless you go heavy, period. You cant be an Olympian unless you go heavy.. Drugs play a HUGE part in how heavy you can go… I’m a natural lifter so I can only go so heavy.. as heavy as I can go, but that could never lead to what people “see” as a bodybuilder. Don’t care either cuz the bodybuilders of today look like shit

    • I just did 6 weeks of 20 rep sets on everything. I plan to try 1 week heavy 6-10 reps and one week 20 reps all around. We need to experiment this way to see what works best. By the way 20 reps gave me some awesome pumps. Rest pause was necessary in some sets.

  2. It seems like you’d plateau quicker training with light weights. With all the betaine and creatine everyone takes you’d have to work out for like 7 hrs just to feel like you actually did something. I think if your new to it you should def go light but once you get stronger and more experienced you should prob go heavier.

  3. Pain and suffering is unfortunately the best way to build mass. For me personally, if im laughing and joking around in the gym, then im not pushing myself to the max. If im not begging for mercy after the first set, then im not going to grow. If tears arent streaming down my face with temporary ptsd when i go home for the day, then I havent worked hard enough. It WILL pay off in the long run. Keep marching forward and NEVER give up on yourself.

    • True but most people grow to love that feeling, a pump is comparable to a high, plus you increase seratonin, neuroepinephrine and dopamine levels by lifting (which is exactly what recreational drugs do). So its really a win win, you feel great in the moment and Look great in the future as a result of your effort.

  4. Haha whats “heavy” ? If someone can apply the same about of tension on the working muscle with less momentum more control and less impact on ur joints and involvement from secondary muscles…. how does a blind man tell if he is lifting heavy ? ! By feeling the tension…

  5. The real truth is building muscle is more a product of applying tension to a specific muscle group. Obviously as you increase muscle mass your strength will also increase. However, each muscle group is comprised of fast and slow twitch muscle fibers, and the genetic make up of your muscle fibers determine whether short, intense (heavier) lifts or longer time under tension will build more muscle tissue.

    Strength in itself is a byproduct of muscle hypertrophy AND CNS (central. Nervous system) stimulation. Heavier weights for lower reps will stimulate your cns and slow twitch muscle fibers, and increase your strength. But because most skeletal muscle is comprised of fast twitch muscle fibers, higher rep sets (8-15 approximately) will be more effective for these. So the best bet for building strength is to do both higher and lower rep sets for every muscle.

    Having said all this, heavy is a relative term. No one is going to become a mass monster by benching 135 for 50 reps. A better is to use slow controlled form and form a mind muscle connection (being aware of the muscle you are targeting and consciously using it to move the weight). You can alter the movement in some cases to do this. For instance, when you bench. Only go 3/4 of the way up, as locking it out hits more of your triceps. Also control the negative portion of the movement, and pause at the bottom to stretch your chest. As you push up, pretend you are squeezing your hands together on the bar (but don’t actually move your hands) just focus on squeezing in and contracting your chest. Same with flies, imagine you are wrapping your arms around a tree, you want to keep your arms out but squeeze your chest in.

    When you use techniques like these, you’ll have to use less weight but it will increase muscle hypertrophy. On the other hand if you are trying to power lift and use the maximum amount if weight possible, you want to use as many muscle groups as possible to move the weight.

  6. Serge Nubret always lifted lighter weight for higher volume and he won 2nd in Olympia in 1975 next to Arnold and Lou. And he guest posed at age 65 and looked almost as damn good as he did in his 20’s in 1975 – thick with muscle, lean around the waist and shredded (classic physique though of course).

  7. Uuhhmmmm, dont think so, for muscle growth you gotta take the muscle to failure and thats impossible with light weights, at least you perform many repetitions but that is not natural.

  8. Abraham, if you control the weight and keep your muscle under tension longer you can use lighter weights to get the job done.

    I didn’t start seeing good muscle growth in my arms until I lowered the weight and focused on forcing blood into the muscles.

    Now that I’m approaching 40 and my knees are shot from the insane weights I did in my 20s and early 30s i do the same for quads. I don’t have anything to prove and competing isn’t in the picture either.

    I would rather not have to get a knee replacement anytime soon. It’s not worth it.

    • i use heavy weights (or whatever called heavy for me, im natty and i have packed more than 20 pounds of muscle in the last months) wich i can move for 8-10 reps and control, i like to use the HIIT style of training, wich is give all you have at the last set of every exercise, ive learned you have to take the muscle to failure in 1 all out set to make it grow, recovery is as important as training and good diet as well… like i said, you can build muscle with light weights but that will make you perform many repetitions.

  9. You can but it will not be the “hardened” muscle of heavy lifters, or not for a long time. Heavy lifters muscles are always hard, whereas light weight trainers are soft muscle bellies.. I know I have done both and now at 57 I have to train a bit lighter and fell my muscles are softer, rather than rock hard for extended periods of time. They get pumped bc I do up to 50 reps 50, 40, 30, 20, 15, 10, 10 10 to failure chest, legs, and back Arms a bit lighter) up to 315 for sets. But it is not the same. Still kind of large though. Different feelings.

    • Abraham Suffy you are on a generation iron page , it’s a bodybuilding page ! 😳 there no such thing as a natural bodybuilder 🙄 saying that people who use anabolics think they know how to build muscle is probably one of the most uneducated things I have read today! You sir get the award 🥇 for stupidity ! Take those poor genetics and try any type of weight and get some results because this 45 year old does train light weight 😂

  10. OK basically do heavy weight to failure will target the type 2 muscle fibre and do light weight to failure will target type 1 muscle fibre. Research have shown both type 1 and type 2 muscles will grow as long as you train them to failure each time….. For those who didn’t really read on any research please stop your bro science

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