It would help a great deal of egos if lifting heavy weights made you bulky. Unfortunately, that’s not the case. Most strength and conditioning coaches try to shoot this faulty logic down and the masses assume it’s their bias speaking, but the science is old and decided on this.
Lifts that happen at or above 90% of one’s output requires both the mechanical work of muscle tissues and the central nervous system efficiency to recruit enough muscle firing to accomplish the lift. However, the demand on the system at the heaviest loads possible doesn’t develop muscle growth. The largest stress and adaptation in the system is neurological. Said differently, while having bigger muscles would help you lift the heaviest weights possible, lifting the heaviest weights possible (90% of one rep max or more) won’t develop bigger muscles. It does alter the brain’s efficiency for firing the muscles you do have to better accomplish the work, though..
In fact, whether you’re worried about putting on muscle mass or adding size is your ultimate goal, we can look to the science again for how to do this and it’s not lifting the heaviest weights possible. Rep schemes between four and twelve repetitions is optimal for muscle growth (hypertrophy). Keep in mind that the heaviest weights possible are too heavy to move for this many reps, which makes heavy weight ineligible for bulking up, by definition. We can look to the world’s masters in developing muscle growth for confirmation here, which, of course, is the bodybuilding community. They are kings of moderate weight, moderate rep training to promote the infamous pump. The man that wins Mr. Olympia this year won’t become champion because of his one rep max bench press. In fact, that title will much more likely be earned with an impressive twelve rep max.
If you don’t want to lift heavy weights out of fear, be my guest, but the excuse that you’re going to turn into a muscly man is just untrue. Go heavy!
Complete 3 rounds for quality:
:45 Ring Plank
12 Inverted Shoulder Taps
6 Candle Stick Negatives
With a partner, AMRAP 10
200′ Keg Carry
Partner B: Rest