Reach for the Tiny Weights

Reach for the Tiny Weights

Don't knock yourself out with super-heavy lifting. You can make your muscles bigger and stronger by pumping the little stuff.

You just have to lift it more times. In a study, researchers found that the men who did 24 leg extensions with lighter weights built just as much muscle as the men who did 5 reps with heavier weights.

Flex Your Muscle
Whether you like big weights or little ones, the key seems to be lifting them to the point of fatigue. That's important in building more muscle mass, researchers note. And strength training that combines light weights with high reps is a great way to stimulate those muscle cells to build more tissue. That's all the more important as we get older, because our bodies tend to lose muscle with age. But some of us just aren't up for power lifting. (But don't forget this type of exercise; it can mean less arthritis pain later.)

Be a Lightweight
Still, New Year's resolutions aside, don't dive headfirst into serious strength training if your body is not used to exercise. It's a perfect formula for injury -- which will get you nowhere fast on the path to fitness. So talk with your doctor about a strength-training program that will gradually get you into shape. Once you have the green light to start building a strong, lean body, try these strength-training tips on for size:

Medically reviewed in January 2020.

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4 Strength-Training Tips
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