Build Muscle Without Lifting Heavier Weights

Build muscle

I recently sent out an email to my clients asking if they were to go to a workshop/ retreat what would they want to do/learn. One of the answers was how to Build Muscle Without Lifting Heavier Weights

I don’t think you need to go to a workshop to learn this so let’s talk about it.

It all comes down to the principle of progressive overload. This means you have to do something different than you’ve done before that places greater tension on your muscles that will over time cause them to grow.

Here are some ways to build muscles without lifting heavy.

Take shorter rest periods

I don’t usually have my clients rest in between exercises because I want them to get the most out of the time they are with me. However, if you do rest in between exercises instead of resting for three minutes rest for two minutes. You will not be able to lift as much weight because you didn’t have as much time to recover and your muscle will fatigue faster causing muscle growth. I sometimes have my clients do two exercises back to back, let’s say back and chest. While they are resting the chest they are working their back and they keep going back and forth for a certain amount of sets.

Change the speed

By slowing down the speed you will have more time under tension. You will not get as many reps but you will reach failure faster without adding extra weight. For example for a bicep curl, you might do 5 sec on the up motion (concentric) of the exercise and 5 to 7 seconds on the downward motion (eccentric). This will also make you sore if you don’t train like this often.

Increase the number of reps

The key here is “close to failure”! You can lift lighter weights and do more reps (up to 30) but you have to go to failure or close to it. Let’s say you use a weight you can do 20 reps with and you stop at 15. Only some of the muscle fibers will be recruited. If you continue the set to get the 20 reps and you can’t do any more with good form you will recruit more muscle fibers and build more muscle.

Focus on the muscle and have good form

I almost always tell my clients what muscle they are using and to focus there. So say you are doing a lat pulldown if you are just going through the motions you can use the biceps, shoulders, and other muscles as the prime movers and not get as much out of the exercise. Now if I say focus on the wide part of your back and engage your lats before you pull the bar down you will fatigue that muscle faster (build muscle).

If your goal is to build muscle without lifting heavier weights the bottom line is to go to failure or close to it, with good form and focus on the muscle you are working on.
Another thing to remember is if you don’t eat well you won’t be able to see the muscle you worked so hard to build. I will discuss that in another blog post. Check out a post I wrote about healthy eating
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Be well,

I own a personal training studio in Lewis Center, Ohio. I love learning about nutrition, health, fashion, blogging, being outside, animals, and helping you to get healthy and lean. I am also a photographer. You can follow my fashion blog at

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Medical Disclaimer I am not a physician or medical health professional. Any of the information shared in this blog (text, graphics, images and other material) is based on my research and/or personal experience. None of my posts should serve as a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Consult your physician before launching any new health care regimen.

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