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Is it Better to Lift Less Weight With Higher Reps to Lose Weight?

By Ollie Odebunmi

The number of repetitions and amount of weight you lift largely determine the results you should expect from a weight training program. However, though high reps may play a role in a weight-loss program, the correlation between high reps and weight loss is not as straightforward as generally perceived.


Lifting weights, irrespective of the repetitions -- providing there is sufficient intensity, will increase your strength and help increase lean muscle tissue. Lean muscle tissue boosts your metabolism and ability to burn fat. A rep range of six to 12 with heavy weights will maximize strength and muscle gains. A high rep range of 12 to 25 with less weight will primarily improve muscle endurance.


It is generally thought that high repetitions with lighter weight burns fat and will help you lose weight. However, according to, this is a myth. A high-rep set takes 20 to 30 seconds. Exercise within this minimal time span does not demand enough oxygen to burn fat. Energy is provided by carbohydrates or glycogen stored in the muscles. However, you can incorporate high repetitions and less weight into specific weight training routines to encourage weight loss.

High Repetition Intense Training

Focus on the major muscle groups of the chest, back, shoulders, glutes and legs. Do exercises such as the bench press, military press, rowing, squats or leg presses. Include isolation exercises such as barbell curls, triceps pushdowns and leg curls. Do two sets per exercise using light weights for 15 to 20 reps. Rest for no more than 30 seconds between sets. Rest for three to five minutes after completing all seven exercises, then repeat. This high-rep intense workout of about 20 minutes will elevate your heart rate and prompt oxygen to burn fat. Your carbohydrate and muscle glycogen reserves will also be depleted. After exercise, your body will be induced to use its fat reserves as energy for metabolism. If you are a beginner, reduce the number of exercises or increase the rest period between sets.

Circuit Training

Set up a station of eight to 10 exercises. Include exercises for the major muscle groups and body weight exercises such as ab crunches and push-ups. Do 15 to 20 reps per station and maximum reps for the crunches and push-ups. Do not rest between stations or exercises. Rest for three to five minutes after your first circuit, then repeat circuit two or three times. This high-rep, light-weight circuit routine will elevate your heart rate and burn calories to induce weight loss.

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