This just in: High rep, low-weight “toning” is crap

April 5th, 2010  |  Published in Stumpblog  |  4 Comments

From the NYT:

Lifting heavy weights makes you big and bulky — or at least that’s the conventional wisdom. It’s the reason many women (and some men) who want slim and “toned” physiques opt for lighter weights, lifted more times.

But the notion is not supported by science. Producing bulky muscles requires not just heavy weights but heavy calorie consumption as well, typically far above the 2,000 daily calories recommended for many adults. [Krista note: And for most women, testosterone “supplementation”.]

For people who lift weights to tone up and slim down, experts say, a regimen that includes a combination of challenging weights and fewer repetitions can help significantly. In a 2002 study, for example, scientists looked at what happened when women performed various resistance exercises at different weights and repetitions (85 percent of their maximum ability for 8 reps, versus 45 percent for 15). Subjects lifting more weight fewer times burned more energy and had a greater metabolic boost after exercise.

In another study published last year, scientists followed 122 women for six years. They found that those who were assigned to do resistance exercises three times a week — sets of 8 reps at 70 to 80 percent of their ability — lost the most weight and body fat. A similar two-year study of women who did strength training with challenging weight twice weekly found similar effects on body and “intra-abdominal” fat.


  1. High rep, low-weight “toning” is crap « Fitness Overload says:

    April 5th, 2010at 4:33 pm(#)

    […] From The New York Times via […]

  2. braidwood says:

    April 5th, 2010at 11:38 pm(#)

    Thank you for posting this, Krista. I KNOW this from my own experience, but I haven’t lifted weights in awhile and I needed to be reminded and have it confirmed that it really is as effective as I remembered it being.

    I ran – I was training for a marathon, and I was in great cardiovascular shape, but then a bone in my foot got a stress fracture. While I recovered I lifted weights. Holy Cow! Nothing had ever gotten me in such good (looking) shape before in my life! It was amazing.

    I recovered and went on to train for a marathon and I just didn’t have the energy to run that much and weight lift- I love running and it gets me in better shape endurance wise than anything- but it doesn’t change the shape of my body or help me lose weight at all- weight lifting definately does.

    Ok, good reminder to start weight lifting again.

  3. Simma says:

    April 6th, 2010at 8:39 pm(#)

    Better late than never.

    Maybe now, when a woman hits me up for advice and I tell her to lift heavier and do fewer reps, and some meathead inserts himself into the conversation and says, “Oh no, you don’t want to do that–you’ll get big!”, she’ll listen to me instead of Random Meathead.

    braidwood, have you thought about cutting back on distances and incorporating more interval training? It produces improvements in long-distance performance while allowing runners to cut back drastically on total volume of running. That way, you may have more time for weight training as well, which also has been shown to benefit endurance athletes for performance and for injury prevention.

  4. CrossFit Ireland » Wed, Apr 14th says:

    April 13th, 2010at 6:31 pm(#)

    […] Do What You’re Told – Bryan Walsh Just in: High Rep Low Weight “Toning” is Crap – […]

Get "Fuck Calories"

Enter your information below and the magical gnomes that run Stumptuous will send you a copy of the "Fuck Calories" e-book for free!
Email Marketing by Javelin