What Role Does Your Choice of Weights Play In Your Body Transformation

With the new year in full swing and your training war paint still freshly applied, it’s time to put your training planning to work. You head to the gym and walk into the weights section. As you head on over to the rack and figure out your routine, you stop and ask yourself:

“Do I go for the heaviest weight I can muster? Should I squeeze in an impressive 1 to 2 reps, because only if I go heavy will I grow right? Or do I go the lighter route and rather tone up my arms a bit with more reps?”

Common Misconceptions

What should we be doing? I would like to address a common misconception around this. People often think if you want to tone up and lose weight, then you have to drop the weights and up your reps. Similarly, it is thought that if you want to get big, bulky and grow like a mountain beast then you have to drop those reps and start lifting some heavy-ass weights. This notion is somewhat misleading. In contrast, here is how our bodies actually work:

The body’s ability to “tone” and build muscle can be matched equally whether you use lighter or heavy weights.


The most important thing is calories consumed and making sure you are reaching adequate levels of hypertrophy (level of exertion required for muscle growth). Whether you are lifting heavy or light, as long as you maintain hypertrophy and you eat in a surplus you will put on muscle. If you are in a calorie deficit and use either light or heavy weight you will continue to tone, but the muscle will not grow past a point for lack of adequate nutrition. Your nutrition plays the role in whether you lose or gain weight, not the size of your weights.

What Should I Be Doing?

For those just starting out, I recommend grabbing weights that are challenging but still allow you to do a good number of reps (between 8 -15). Once you reached good form and increased strength, then you can start incorporating days with heavier weights as well. Notice how I say “as well“… Use a combination of both in your training routine as they provide incremental benefits to your overall physique and performance.

Training days with lighter weight variation will help build greater muscle endurance. Days with much heavier (but still controlled) weights will start activating those explosive muscle fibres and improve overall strength. If you want to grow, eat in a surplus. If you want to tone and lean out then eat in a deficit.

I hope you have learnt how to use both heavy and light weights to your advantage. Happy lifting everyone!

PS. If you would like to ask me anything about your fitness journey, feel free to send me a message to Ask Attwell.