There are two practiced forms of heavy and light training in bodybuilding. Both have equal merits and in this course we will use the two of them in our workouts. But first, WHY LIGHT AND HEAVY?
One of the most talked about topics in bodybuilding is “Should I train light or should I train heavy?” There are just as many advocates of the heavy school of training as there are of the light. Mike Mentzer trains heavy and Serge Nubret trains light, yet both have world class physiques.
Recent scientific research regarding muscle fibers reveals that there are actually two different types, red fibers (or slow twitch), and white fibers (or fast twitch). It would appear that to develop a muscle to its fullest potential both kinds of fibers must be stimulated. The research indicates that the slow twitch fibers respond to heavy training, and the fast twitch require lighter training. So, it would seem that you have to train both heavy and light to develop your muscles to their fullest potential.
Long before research into fast and slow twitch fibers, Reg Park used and recommended the use of heavy and light workloads in training. During that era, his physique was considered one of the best of all time, and even today he is considered highly.
Reg often wrote workout schedules incorporating his own system of light and heavy training, and it is from his wisdom that we recommend the following routine as our first Heavy and Light workout.
First Heavy and Light Routine
Train four days per week. Monday, Wednesday, Friday, Saturday.
On Mondays and Fridays do your chest, shoulders, triceps and forearms (push and grip) as follows:
1) Bench Press (Heavy) 5 sets of 6 reps.
2) Dumbbell Flyes (Light) 4 x 12.
1) Standing Press Behind Neck 5 sets of 6.
2) Seated Dumbbell Lateral Raise 4 x 12.
1) Lying Triceps Extension (Heavy) 5 x 6.
2) Triceps Pressdown (Light) 4 x 12.
1) Reverse Curl (Heavy) 5 x 6.
2) Wrist Curl (Light) 4 x 12.
On Wednesdays and Saturdays train your thighs, calves, back and biceps (squat and pull) as follows:
1) Parallel Squat (Heavy) 5 x 6 reps.
2) Leg Extension (Light) 4 x 12.
1) Standing Calf Raise (Heavy) 5 sets of 12.
2) Toe Press (Light) 5 x 12.
1) Bentover Barbell Row (Heavy) 5 x 6.
2) Front Chins (Light) 4 x 12.
1) Barbell Curl (Heavy) 5 x 6.
2) Dumbbell Concentration Curl (Light) 4 x 12.
How To Get The Best Out Of Light And Heavy
1) The Heavy Part
With the exception of calf training, all body parts start out heavy. The exercises are done for 5 sets of 6 reps each and the following system should be used:
Do your 1st set of 6 with about 50% of your best 6 rep poundage. A warmup set.
2nd set of 6 with about 80% or your best 6 rep poundage. A second warmup.
For your 3rd set pile on enough weight so you can just get 6 reps. If you can do more, do them.
Rest about 2 or 3 minutes, and try to get another 6 reps with the same weight on your 4th set.
Rest another 2 or 3 minutes, then try for another 6 reps with the same weight.
It may not be possible to get a full 6 reps on all three heavy sets, but keep pushing. As soon as you can get 6 good reps on all 3 heavy sets, increase the weight by 5 lbs next workout.
2) The Light Part
Once again, with the exception of calf training, each part is to be done for 4 sets of 12 reps as follows:
Go all out to get 12 reps on your 1st set.
Rest only 40 seconds, then do another set of 12 reps with about 5-10 lbs less weight.
Do another 2 sets, reducing the weight each time, and resting no more than 40 seconds.
The objective of this routine is to fully stimulate the deep muscle fibers with the very heavy sets, then completely pump and burn the fibers with the lighter, faster sets.
Stay with this routine for about 8 weeks.
Second Heavy and Light Routine
The other system of heavy and light training is a more recent one, and its origins would indicate a lot of influence from the teachings of Vince Gironda. Unlike the first method, this heavy and light approach recommends that a light set immediately follow a heavy set of the SAME EXERCISE.
In other words, do a heavy set of squats for 6 reps, then immediately follow it with another squat set of 10 reps with a much lighter weight. The theory behind this system is that to stimulate all aspects of a muscle, you must first of all hit it with as much heavy stimulation as you can for low reps, and then immediately pump it very,very hard with a lighter set of the same exercise.
Train four days a week as before, on Monday, Wednesday, Friday and Saturday.
On Mondays and Fridays train Legs, Chest and Back:
1) Leg Extension 6 reps heavy -> 10 reps light, 3 sets.
2) Parallel Squat 6 reps heavy -> 10 reps light, 3 sets.
1) Standing Calf Raise 10 reps heavy -> 10 reps light, 3 sets.
2) Seated Calf Raise 10 reps heavy -> 10 reps light, 3 sets.
1) Dumbbell Fly 6 reps heavy -> 10 reps light, 3 sets.
2) Bench Press, same as above.
1) Front Chin, same as above.
2) Bentover Barbell Row, same as above.
On Wednesdays and Saturdays train Shoulders and Arms:
1) Side Laterals,6 reps heavy -> 10 reps light.
2) Standing Press Behind Neck, same as above.
1) Dumbbell Concentration Curl – same as above.
2) Barbell Curl – same as above.
1) Pressdown, same as above.
2) Lying Extension, same as above.
1) Wrist Curl, same as above.
2) Reverse Curl, same as above.
How To Get The Best Out Of Light And Heavy (Second Method)
As with the first approach, you must constantly strive to handle more and more weight on your exercises. With the exception of calves, perform the exercises like this:
Do a nice slow warmup set of 10 reps on your first exercise, then rest for 60 seconds.
Now, pile on enough weight so that you can just manage to get 6 reps in fairly good style. These reps need not be too strict, and some men even do ‘half reps’ on this first set in order to handle more weight.
As soon as you can’t do any more reps, reduce the weight so that you can immediately do another 8-10 reps on the same exercise. Having the weights already set up, if possible, is a very efficient way of doing this.
After resting about 60 seconds, do another heavy -> light set.
Rest another 60 seconds and do a final set.
After 3 sets like this your muscles should be exhausted.
How to Reduce the Poundages Correctly
It is impossible to tell you exactly how much weight to take off for your light sets. Some lifters have tremendous recovery abilities and can continue the exercise with only a 10% reduction in weight. Others reduce by 25% and some even more.
The weight should not be too light or you will not stimulate the muscle fibers enough, and if it is too heavy you’ll find yourself working on your nerve.