Higher repetitions and lighter weight training resulted in greater fat loss over a 12-week training period compared to moderate weight. Similar increases in muscle mass and strength occurred between the groups.
BENEFITS OF HIGH REP TRAINING KEY POINTS:
- The benefits of high rep training may be greater fat loss. Higher repetitions and lighter weight training resulted in greater fat loss over a 12-week training period compared to moderate weight.
- Similar increases in muscle mass and strength occurred between the groups.
High-intensity Interval Training (HIIT) comprising short bursts of intense exercise with minimal rest periods has been found to improve body composition, cardiovascular fitness, and strength.(1) High-Intensity Functional Training is performed similarly in the gym in which multi-joint exercises are performed with the desired number of repetitions with short rest periods between sets has been found to reduce body fat and improve strength gains.(2, 3).
To date, no one has examined the effects of HIFT with different training intensities on body composition and strength. Previous studies have found that when sets are taken close to muscular failure, there are similar increases in muscle when comparing moderate (i.e., 8-12 reps) and light-weight intensity (20+ reps).(4) The literature suggests that light weight/high repetition training can be equally effective for increasing muscle mass as moderate weight/lower repetitions exercises.(5) This can be advantageous to give the joints and ligaments a break from heavier lifting while still increasing muscle mass.
Benefits of High Rep Training Study
A new study adds to the existing literature that higher repetition/light weight training may be beneficial for losing body fat compared to moderate weight training. Researchers had 41 healthy, young, physically active individuals (19 males and 22 females) train with either a moderate-load (70% 1-RM) training with 8-12 reps or low load resistance training (30% 1-RM) training with 24-28 reps or a control group (CON). The participants performed as many reps as possible during the 30-second training sets. The training program included five functional exercises performed in a circuit fashion for 30 seconds each, with 30 seconds of rest in between, totaling four rounds of five exercises per session. Volume load (load x sets x number of repetitions) was equal in the two groups. The subjects performed a full-body workout three days a week.
At the end of the study, both groups increased lean muscle mass and lost body fat over 12 weeks, but the fat loss was greater in the low load/high repetition training group. Interestingly, the greatest fat loss changes occurred in the last six weeks of training (i.e., weeks 6-12) for the higher repetition group, while the moderate weight group had no further decrease in body fat from weeks 6-12. See the chart below.