5 Reasons You Must Lift Heavy Ass Weights

A few days ago I finally hit a personal record on weighted chin ups at 140 pounds for 4 reps (actually, 5 reps but the last rep was kind messy) at a bodyweight of 183 pounds.

So total, I’m pulling a raw 323 pounds. Most lat pull down machines only go up to 200 pounds.

Side note: For those interested, I’m using the Brute Belt which is hands down the best dip belt on the market. It’s slightly more pricey, but it’s arguably the highest quality belt on the market and if I’m going to be using it for years to come, you may as well invest in the best. This was after being stuck at 120 pound weighted chin up since I haven’t invested in a weighted belt yet. I spend the last 3 months of my life simply sticking 120 pound dumbbells between my legs. And let me tell you, sticking 120 pounds between your legs isn’t the most comfortable thing in the world.

Most beginners or most people who follow mainstream fitness advice in magazines, and even bodybuilders tend to promote lifting in the mid-high rep range (8-12+ reps). This is fine for getting the “pump” and building mass but it does very little for real world strength gains.

Look, I love lifting heavy.

I think it’s one of best things in the world, right after pie.

There are so many reasons for you to focus on heavy lifting (3-5 reps).

Here are the top 5 that came to my head while I took a shower last night.

Reason #1: Improved residual muscle tone

Christian Bale Body

Lifting heavy improves your residual muscle tone.

In other words, you look better without flexing or anything like that.

Have you ever noticed how when you do ‘pump’ training in the 10-12 rep range, your muscles look big and swollen after the gym and for the next 1-2 day but then return to their normal size afterwards?

This is called sarcoplasmic hypertrophy, an increase in fluid (sarcoplasm) in muscle cells that results in big puffy muscles that look good for a few days but don’t result in long term muscle fiber growth. In other words, when you try to contract your muscles (or flex) it doesn’t look that impressive.

On the other hand by lifting heavy (3-5 reps), myofibillar hypertrophy occurs which is the actual growth of the muscle fibers which allows you to contract the muscle harder, thus giving you better “muscle tone” even without flexing.

Reason #2: Cut your workout load by 21.69%

How did I come up with the number 21.69%?

I completely made it up.

But you will be able to cut down your workout load by a pretty decent amount once you start training heavier.

The fact is, training heavier recruits more muscle fibers and increases the amount of tension placed on the muscle.

This means that you don’t need to do a dozen different exercises for each body part anymore.

Instead just focus on a handful of exercises and focus on getting freakishly strong at them.

I love to tell clients to focus on getting insanely strong at weighted chin ups if they want a big back and to forget about everything else. If you’re the type of guy who likes to do 5 different exercises for his back so your can “hit it from all angles” but still don’t have a big back, then try focusing on just weighted chin ups and progressing on those. You may pleasantly surprised with the results.

Reason #3: You maintain you muscle much easier

If your training plan revolves around the 8-12 rep range, you’ll probably find your muscles becoming soft if you ever decide to take a week off from training.

This rarely happens when you focus on lifting heavy.

Hell, you can even get away with working out only 2x per week if your routine is smartly laid out.

Reason #4: You train with more intensity

Heavy lifting is not for pussies.

Anyone can lift 5 pound dumbbells for 50+ reps but try doing a chin up with 75% of your bodyweight attached for 5 reps.

It requires focus.

It requires the right mind set.

It requires you to actually track your progress in the gym (which surprisingly very few guys do). Most guys just “wing it.”

If you lack any of these qualities, you won’t last long in this game.

Yes, lifting super heavy is not necessarily easy but that’s the point. Anything worthwhile doing is not easy.

Reason #5: It’s perfect if you want a Hollywood physique

If you want a lean and muscular body like Daniel Craig, Chris Pratt, or Ryan Reynolds, the quickest, most optimal way to do it is by lifting heavy 75% of the time. The other 25% can consist of more high rep pump training stuff.

Everyone thinks you need to train 5+ days per week to get a ripped Hollywood physique, but if you just followed the heavy lifting principles on my site and focused on creating a calorie deficit to lose fat, you’ll be so much further along than everyone else.

Next month (Jan 2015), I’ll be releasing my first premium course, Superhero Shredding which will lay out the entire step-by-step blueprint on how to build a lean and muscular Hollywood body. Be sure to keep an eye out for it.

Edit Jan 12th: It’s out!

Are you lifting heavy or are you lifting nothing but high rep pump stuff? Let me know in the comments below.

P.S. I’m on Instagram now. Apparently you’re not hip and cool if you’re not on Instagram so I had no choice. Follow me plz.

61 thoughts on “5 Reasons You Must Lift Heavy Ass Weights”

  1. Hello I am Robert,

    I was wondering what your recommendtions are for someone like, I have tired gyms before and never really continued. My weight is 280lbs most of it is in my gut and chest I would like to gain muscle build as well as look good my height is 5 11 and I am 28 yrs old

  2. I have started incorporating Strength Training into my program last month. I do it once a week and the other two are “Hypertrophy” 10-12 rep range program. I also heard that you can actually build muscle with strength training by eating at a surplus.

    Should you still train Shoulders and Ab at the 12 rep range?

  3. Hey Keith,

    im really big fan of your work. It would be awesome if u post more often.

    Thanks also for your help and advice last week.

    i’m looking forward to your Superhero program.

      • Will be your new program also for advanced lifters? Im already pretty strong (i sent u email with my PRs on some exercises 2 weeks )

        • Yeah I remember you had some pretty solid lifts.

          This program is geared towards fat loss and getting ripped. So if you want to gain a ton of muscle an get even stronger, this might not be for you since you’re already at that intermediate-advanced strength level.

          But if you want lose some body fat and get shredded while maintaining your mass and strength, this would be great for you.

  4. Keith,

    I’m not an Instagram kinda guy but maybe when I have a few days off this Xmas, I’ll look at the app and figure something out (prolly not)

    Anyhoo, I’m doing drop sets right now and wondering how long should I change up the routine to make it super sets? Also, when doing drop sets, do you recommend dropping by 5lbs or 10lbs.

    Looking forward Rito the new Superhero program

    Cheers.

    Dane

    • It’s all good 🙂

      Depends on your routine, but why do you need to switch from drop sets to super sets. I think supersets should only be used if you’re truly restricted on time and sometimes for beginners.

  5. Couldn’t you stIll get a similar result if you lift In the 8-12 rep range but it’s heavy, meaning that you struggle to finish each set. Wouldn’t that still be considered progressive overload?

    • In a sense, yes.

      But if you want to build really powerful, dense, functional muscle, then you should focus a bit more on the lower range.

      A weight you lift for 5 reps is going to be significantly heavier than one you lift for 10 reps.

  6. Hi Keith
    first off congratulations on your new record, impressive stuff!!

    I was just wondering when you mentioned “pump training” does that mean that when you do exercises for lets say 10-12 reps you aren’t actually gaining muscle but rather you are just getting a pump that lasts a while?
    secondly is the 8 rep region still pump training?
    Cheers

    • Thanks Oliver.

      Yes typically, pump training is usually in the 10-15 rep range. ALmost all exercises give you a “pump”, but higher reps give a stronger pump.

      No pump training isn’t useless, it just isn’t great for building raw power and lean dense muscles. That’s why I tell guys to focus most of their effort in the lower rep range, especially if you want that lean Hollywood physique.

  7. I’m currently trying a 3×5 routine using squats, deadlifts, shoulder press, incl bench press, row, pull ups & dips.
    I’m trying to gain a little muscle, so i’m eating at a surplus. Is this style of training enough or should i switch to higher rep training?

  8. Hi,

    I train at home with free weights and currently train the old one muscle group a day routine. I focus on compound lifts then followed by isolation moves. If I use the 3 rep method and also training twice a week as you have stated in another article then should I concentrate on a couple of compound lifts for 3 reps with a few body parts a session? Or start with a compound lift then still do an isolation move for each body part with a few body parts a session?

    Thanks in advance

    • Depends on how your split is set up.

      But I like training reverse pyramid style, meaning my first set is my heaviest at 3-4 reps and subsequent sets are 10% lighter with an increase in 1-2 reps. I’d do a few compound lifts then move to isolation movements.

  9. I agree that training for strength is the way to go. The Brute Belt does look nice, but there are cheaper options that work just as well.

    When I first starting working out, I was on a tight budget. I used my school backpack and put small weight plates in that for doing weighted chin-ups and dips. True story!

    Eventually you need a good belt to support all that weight though. Keep lifting heavy!

    • if it gets people to get off their ass and start exercising, then great.

      But it doesn’t help you build a lot of muscle and strength and might be too extreme for most people so that’s a big con.

  10. I’m really enjoying the workout routines I’ve been getting off your site. I was wondering what your views were on drinking beer after a long workout?

  11. So, definitely digging your article thus far. I’m not in to gyms as much, but I understand your “less reps, more bad ass poundage” push. I’m wondering if you have any ideas for workouts at home? I mean lunges with cinderblocks-type deal? I don’t need to lose too much weight and I’ve got a shit load of muscle already, but I could use a nicer stomach. Help?

    • it’s tough with home workouts unless you have a lot of weights. If you can’t lift super heavy in the lower rep ranges, the only way to compensate is with higher reps and more sets.

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