We have mentioned the three factors of intensity; Load, Effort and Exertion. Load (how much weight you use) is one of the most important factors for your intensity and is measured as a percentage of your 1 repetition maximum.

It can also be measured as how many reps you can handle at a given weight; f. ex 10RM is a weight heavy enough for failure to occur at 10 repetitions. You can calculate your 1RM with several methods available online.

Lift Heavy

When focusing on building strength, lifting heavy is beneficial. This is especially true if you are an experienced athlete. Light loads (lighter than 20 RM) also build strength, but heavy loads (heavier than 15RM) build significantly more. This is because heavy weights to a greater extent make your nervous system more effective at activating many muscle fibers at the same time, generating more power: a process known as neuromuscular adaption.

This means that you get stronger without necessarily increasing your muscle mass. Keep in mind that no matter what load, you will still stimulate both strength and hypertrophy (muscle mass), but to different extents. Loads for maximal strength are around 60% of 1RM for beginners, 80% of 1RM for more experienced lifters and 85% of 1RM for competitive athletes (which equals 3-4RM).

Caution: When going heavy it is important to remember to prioritize good form, as injury risk is much higher than with lighter weights.

P.S. For all our women readers who don’t want a more “masculine” physique, we want to point out that heavy weights WON’T make you bulky, but still make you stronger! Being strong as a woman is not only going to give you a longer healthier life, it is also very empowering! So go for it!

EBT (Evidence Based Training) M.Ds with a passion for public health making fitness & nutrition science simple. Build muscle, burn fat, perform better. Like, comment & follow us on IG & Facebook, and check out ebtofficial.com for our full blog with tons of free content. The information above is not medical advice.

1. Schoenfeld BJ. Muscular adaptations in low- versus high-load resistance training: A meta-analysis. Eur J Sport Sci. 2014 Dec 20:1-10.

2. Rhea MR. A meta-analysis to determine the dose response for strength development. Med Sci Sports Exerc. 2003 Mar;35(3):456-64.

3. Peterson MD. Maximizing strength development in athletes: a meta-analysis to determine the dose-response relationship. J Strength Cond Res. 2004 May;18(2):377-82.

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