Heavy Weights vs. Higher Reps: What Works Better for a Shredded Body? Backed by Science

If you always wanted to lose weight and gain muscle, there are countless ways to get that toned physique, but there are even more people advising the best way to achieve it.

No matter what you hear, it’s always going to come down to: do you lift heavier weights or do more reps?

Currently, the thought is that more reps of a lower weight will tone your body, giving you that long, lean look that many crave. Women especially love to buy into the hype that 35 reps of a 5 lb. free-weight will tone their arms without building muscle mass.

Women especially love to buy into the hype that 35 reps of a 5 lb. free-weight will tone their arms without building muscle mass.

The other side of the coin is those who want to build muscle mass. They think that fewer reps of an extremely heavy weight will build up greater mass and look bigger on their bodies.


So, if the goal is to get that shredded, tight body with well-defined muscles, what approach should you take?

Let’s look at the science.

To start, we need to first understand what it takes to get that shredded body. It’s really a combination of two elements. You need to build up your muscles and have a substantial fat loss program in place.

So, we need to look at how the weights vs. reps battle play out on both of these elements.

Muscle Growth

It’s thought that if your goal is to build muscle mass, the optimal rep ratio is to lift a set of 6-12 reps at 60-80% of your maximum weight level. It seems that the magic number is to keep the reps under 15 per set with at least a 2-minute rest in between.

That thought hasn’t been conclusive by any means. The reality is that a recent study was conducted on athletes who were split into two groups. The first group performed lower reps of a heavy weight while the second worked on higher reps of lower weights.

In both cases, the muscle proteins were used as a way to determine muscle growth. Neither way proved to be more effective than the other.

A major factor in building up muscle mass is diet and calorie consumption. In other words, you could lift heavy weights, and if you’re not eating enough calories, you’ll never put on an ounce of muscle mass.

Fat Loss

It’s well-known that weight lifting can achieve the goal of fat loss when combined with good diet control, but does lifting fewer reps have an effect on fat loss? Do heavier weights bulk your body up, as some would lead you to believe?

There’s reason to be uncertain.

In another study, two groups of dieters were given two different exercise programs. In one program, the participants were asked to simply lift heavy weights in cooperation with their diets.

In the other group, they performed lower rep exercise and more cardio work. In both cases, the groups lost weight, although the weight lifters lost fat while the cardio group lost both fat and muscle mass.

Weights vs. Reps: The Conclusion

So, what’s all that have to say about your goal of getting shredded? You’re best to consider a goal of moderating fat loss with muscle gain. The sweet spot of bodybuilders and top athletes focuses on doing 6-12 reps of a weight of 60-70% of their maximum weight.

This way, they can build endurance, develop defined muscles and lose the fat exclusively from their bodies.

There is no hard and fast rule concerning this dilemma, but for optimal results, a combination of two should see you define your muscles and make them pop from your body.


7 Post Workout Meal Ideas That you Can Cook in less than 15 Minutes

Straight after a particularly intense workout, your body has depleted its stores of protein and glycogen. This is when your body is especially receptive to absorbing carbohydrates and proteins.

You have a 45-minute window after your workout to eat a meal rich in those types of nutrients. But, just like everybody else, you probably aren’t willing to spend two hours in the kitchen to make something.

Here are 7 ideas of post-workout meals that you can cook in less than 15 minutes to rebuild your body and replenish your fuel stores.

High Protein Pancakes


If you’re looking to keep your muscle mass and trim that fat from your body, you can still enjoy a healthy meal of pancakes.

Take 4 egg whites, ½ cup of rolled oats, ½ cup of cottage cheese, a pinch of baking powder, and a splash of vanilla, and mix together.

This pancake batter will supply your body with the necessary amino acids to keep that muscle and burn that fat. It’s especially delicious with some berries or slices of banana on top.

Ginger Chicken Stir-Fry over Brown Rice


One of the fastest and healthiest ways to cook is to stir-fry some vegetables with a good lean protein source like chicken breast.

Toss in about 1 cup of sliced bell peppers (green, yellow, and red), chopped zucchini, green beans, and snow peas.

Add about 100g of diced chicken with 1 tsp. of shredded ginger.

Serve over brown rice.

Spinach Salad with Black Beans


You can still get your recommended 30g of protein in this meatless salad from beans and egg whites.

In a bowl, mix 2 cups of spinach, 1/3 cup each of black beans and corn, 3 chopped hard-boiled egg whites, and 1 diced tomato. Top with a splash of olive oil for a good source of healthy fat.

This salad is literally thrown together in minutes and is excellent for providing the protein and carbohydrates that your body should get after the workout.

Tuna Surprise


The real surprise of this post-workout meal is how easy it is to whip up. Simply take one can of yellowfin tuna and stir in ½ cup of crumbled whole grain crackers for crunch and texture.

The flavor is good on its own, but if you crave some extra punch, add a splash of extra virgin olive oil, mustard, and a chopped pickle or two.

Chicken Sausage over Whole-wheat Pasta


Sausage is your best friend for a post-workout meal because it can fry up so fast. Cook enough pasta for a meal and while it’s cooking, fry up a low-fat chicken sausage or two.

Slice it over the pasta, add some tomatoes and some broccoli, and you have a delicious meal that took no time at all to complete.

Egg white Omelet with Feta and Tomato


When you’re looking for a speedy meal that builds up your protein loss, egg whites are hard to beat. Fashion an egg white omelet for yourself topped with 1 oz. of feta and a chopped tomato.

Add a sprinkle of cayenne to the dish for flavor and a boost of your metabolism for up to 3 hours.

Mixed Yogurt with Rolled Oats


If you prefer your workouts in the morning, you’ll need breakfast ideas that can satiate you for long periods of time.

Try mixing in a cup of Greek yogurt into a bowl, add ½ cup of rolled oats and flavor the whole thing with some banana and blueberries.

It provides a punch of carbohydrates and a fuller feeling straight after depleting workout.

Planning your after-exercise meals doesn’t have to be complicated. With just a few ingredients and some flavor enhancers, you can quickly whip up a full meal in less than 15 minutes.