Heavy Weights vs High Reps
Heavy Weights vs. High Reps - What works best?

by Lazar Angelov

A lot of my clients ask me: “Which is better for muscle growth and fat loss – heavy weights or high reps?”

First of all, the question itself is not asked correctly. Muscle growth and fat loss are basically anabolic and catabolic states of the body. They are determined primarily by the diet, as a higher caloric surplus implies weight gain and lower caloric deficit implies weight loss. I don’t believe in doing a lot of repetitions for fat loss specifically. High repetitions have their place in the routine for increasing mitochondrial efficiency and getting a good blood flow to the worked muscle. 

The correct question should be “Does muscle growth comes as a result of heavy weights or doing more repetitions with medium weights?” I am an advocate of lifting heavy and will always be a person who stands for heavy training as the only way for natural bodybuilders to gain quality muscle mass. I will illustrate what I mean with an example from my personal experience.

Let’s say I squat 5 reps with 200 kg. If I start doing 20 reps squat sets with 100 kilograms for several weeks my max weight will fall and I won’t be able to squat with 200 kilograms. However, if I increase my max weight for 5 reps to 210 kilograms, then I will be able to do the 20 reps sets with higher weight, for example 105-110 kilograms. 

This means that squatting heavy also gives me more power and stamina to squat longer sets with lighter weight, while the opposite doesn’t hold true. I haven’t seen a guy (or woman) regularly doing 20-30 reps to be strong, but I know that strong guys (and women) can lift very high weight for high reps, simply because they are strong enough to handle it. What’s the conclusion to this?

It’s critical for you to get stronger in order to have constant progress.

The reason why so many people fail to see progress in gaining (lean) mass has 2 main reasons.

1. You don’t eat enough calories.

2. You don’t increase your strength.

 My advice is always to have heavy compound exercises into your program. I like doing between 3 and 8 reps for muscle mass. Of course I also do 10-15 reps sometimes to get a good pump and fill the muscles with vital nutrients after the heavy sets. High reps are definitely needed, but as a supplement to the heavy weights.

What I like doing is to have several heavy low rep sets (3-5 reps, NO failure) and after this to do high rep sets with lighter weight (till failure). After the heavy weight I am always able to lift more reps on the lighter weight, then I normally do. Try it out for yourself!

Who is Lazar Angelov

— If you are reading this, then you must have heard of me. I am Lazar Angelov, one of the world's top fitness models and a certified personal trainer. You ask yourself the question how did I do it, how did I sculpt my body and attained such aesthetic physique? Some say I took the easy route, but trust me, I made many mistakes along the long road to success. I learned from those mistakes and now I am trying to help others avoid them. There are no shortcuts, my friend, the only way is through hard work and dedication.


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