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Exercise and Fitness

More weight or more repetitions

10/08/2002

Question:

What is best when using weights, more weight or more repetitions. For example, is it better to bench press 140 pds 15 times for a total of 2100 pds or press 120 pds 20 times for a total of 2400 pds?

Answer:

The answer to your question is based on your personal goal. The American College of Sports Medicine`s Guidelines for Exercise Testing and Prescription (6th edition) compares the two types of muscular conditioning you are describing. Muscular strength and endurance are developed by the overload principal - by increasing the resistance to movement or the frequency or duration of activity to levels above those normally experienced. Muscular strength is best developed by using weights that evoke maximal or nearly maximal muscle tension with relatively few repetitions. Muscular endurance is best developed by using lighter weights with a greater number of repetitions. To improve in both muscular strength and endurance, most experts recommend 8 to 12 repetitions for healthy participants under 50 to 60 years of age and 10 to 15 repetitions for individuals older than 50 to 60 years of age. Keep in mind, a well-rounded exercise program involves all components of fitness including cardiovascular conditioning, muscular strength and/or muscular endurance, and flexibility. Good luck to you with your fitness program. 

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Response by:

Carolyn   Nickol, RD, MEd Carolyn Nickol, RD, MEd
Director
Fitness Center at CARE\Crawley
University of Cincinnati