Heavier and lighter load resistance training to momentary failure produce similar increases in strength with differing degrees of discomfort

Muscle Nerve. 2017 Oct;56(4):797-803. doi: 10.1002/mus.25537. Epub 2017 Apr 17.


Introduction: It has been suggested that disparities in effort and discomfort between high- and low-load resistance training might exist, which in turn have produced unequivocal adaptations between studies.

Methods: Strength responses to heavier load (HL; 80% maximum voluntary isometric torque; MVIT) and lighter load (LL; 50% MVIT) resistance training were examined in addition to acute perceptions of effort and discomfort. Seven men (20.6 ± 0.5 years, 178.9 ± 3.2 cm, 77.1 ± 2.7 kg) performed unilateral resistance training of the knee extensors to momentary failure using HL and LL.

Results: Analyses revealed significant pre- to post-intervention increases in strength for both HL and LL, with no significant between-group differences (P > 0.05). Mean repetitions per set, total training time, and discomfort were all significantly higher for LL compared with HL (P < 0.05).

Conclusion: This study indicates that resistance training with HL and LL produces similar strength adaptations, but discomfort should be considered before selecting a training load. Muscle Nerve 56: 797-803, 2017.

Keywords: exertion; heavy; isometric strength; light; pain; recreational exercise.

MeSH terms

  • Adaptation, Physiological / physiology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Knee Joint / physiology
  • Male
  • Muscle Strength / physiology*
  • Muscle, Skeletal / physiology*
  • Physical Exertion / physiology*
  • Resistance Training / methods*
  • Weight-Bearing / physiology*
  • Young Adult