Better Muscle Quality
There is a distinctive difference between training for muscle size—technically called hypertrophy—and training for strength and increasing a muscle’s ability to generate force. While lifting heavy can improve the force output of a muscle without significantly increasing its size, training for size can increase muscle volume without necessarily improving strength.
Lifting with higher repetitions can increase the sarcoplasmic hypertrophy of a muscle by increasing the amount of fluid in the sarcoplasm of muscle cells. Using a heavy weight for fewer repetitions results in myofibrillar hypertrophy by increasing the thickness of individual muscle fibers.
Sarcoplasmic hypertrophy increases the size of a muscle, while myofibrillar hypertrophy results in thicker muscle fibers capable of generating higher levels of force. This “dense” muscle coupled with “thick” muscle bellies creates a different appearance than the softer look of sarcoplasmic hypertrophy by itself, and the flatter, less full myofibrillar hypertrophy appearance alone.
Improved Intramuscular Coordination
Intramuscular coordination is the number of type ll motor units and muscle fibers engaged within a specific muscle. Ever experience the “shaking” under heavy weight or during fatigue? This is recruiting of the larger type II muscle fibers that are only challenged with heavy resistance or when working to fatigue.
Improved Intermuscular Coordination
Lifting heavy will require multi-joint (compound) movements, as low repetition, heavy weight resistance training is not recommended for isolation movements, at least in higher volume, to protect joints. Movements like the deadlift, squats, chest press, and many Olympic lifts, can improve intermuscular coordination. This intermuscular coordination improves the ability for muscles to work together to generate and control high levels of force through multiple joints. It’s similar to a team. Together everyone achieves more, and the team works together better if they practice.
Elevation of Anabolic Hormones
Lifting heavy weights will elevate levels of anabolic hormones like growth hormone, testosterone, and insulin-like growth factor (IGF-1), which repairs muscle fibers damaged during exercise. This helps the muscle fibers become thicker and capable of generating higher levels of force.
Improve Mental Capacity
Lifting heavy weights increases production of the hormone IGF-1. This hormone is related to production of brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF), which is responsible for stimulating growth in the brain for new neural pathways, and enhancing communication between existing pathways.
Increased Muscle Definition
Besides body fat percentage, increased muscle definition occurs as the result of muscles remaining in a state of semi-contraction and heavy weight training recruits the larger type II muscle fibers responsible for a muscle’s appearance.
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