Why beginner bodybuilders must use low weights to build muscle

This article is for absolute newbies and for those bodybuilders who have just started {1-2 months of regular training}. It is not for pure strength trainers who want to gain strength only {and not muscle}.

We will address the common beginner bodybuilder queries  including:

  • Should beginners use heavy weights for training?
  • Will low weights build muscle mass?
  • Are low to moderate weights useful for beginners to build muscle?

Fact: Your first 2-3 or even 6 months of bodybuilding life is the most productive period for maximising muscle gains provided you know the rules that work in this period. 

Truth: Unfortunately most newbies throw caution to the wind, copy pro bodybuilder workouts and gain very little muscle.

This article will show you:

But before all that, lets see why beginner bodybuilders respond to low-moderate weight training better...

Ok, you have heard how stress stimulates growth and how it is important for muscle gain. But did you know that the stress with light to moderate weights is better than heavy weights for beginner bodybuilders?

Yes, its true. But before you pick up your hammer, hear me out.

The critical link you need to understand is that, "Any new stress will build muscle.”

And what is stress for new bodybuilders? Weights! Just about any weights including bodyweight training.

Bodyweight and low weight training are powerful stimulus for newbies as their bodies are not accustomed to such stress.

Low weights are perceived as new and novel, and your body responds by muscle and strength gains.

When you begin weight training here is what happens.

Hans Selye’s General Adaptation Syndrome explains this as follows:


As you begin weight training, your body detects it as new stress and responds by muscle soreness, pain and tiredness.

Within 2-4 weeks your body strength gains increases to adapt to the increasing demand. Your muscles are pumped and you get a euphoric feeling. Live the feel but don’t get too excited as it is temporary.

stage two: the resistance change 

As you continue training beyond 4 weeks, the body realises that you are serious about training and starts building muscle proteins. This causes muscle growth starting 3-4 weeks and continues 4 to 12 weeks into your training without any addition to the weights bar.

This is Low weight training in its optimal muscle building mode.

This phase is slow yet sustained. If you follow right nutrition and rest protocol as in my recommended NNMB Program, you will see weekly muscle gains.

stage three: the exhaustion stage

If you continue the same workout week after week, then your body enters exhaustion mode. Gain stop, fatigue sets in and interest exits through the back door.

You should identify these signs and move on.

As you near this phase, it will be time to move on and create a change in intensity/volume.

NNMB 26 week program does this automatically for you.

why low to moderate weight will cause muscle growth spurt

Muscle Building tools also include intensity/frequency variation and exercise variations

As a beginner you should be aware of the muscle building toolbox.

As you continue your muscle building journey, you will need different tools at different stages of your muscle growth process.

Low to moderate weights with moderate volume is the best place to start. Changing weights, sets and reps will come later. 


Many newbies train heavy, exhaust themselves and then are left with few tools to build and grow. 


Heavy weights in the early part of your training will now allow sufficient time for your muscles, tendons, ligaments to recuperate. This calls for intense muscle soreness, sprains and lack of interest in training due to neuromuscular fatigue.

But low weight might not be sufficient stimulus for muscle growth! I hear you. That's why its time to learn...

How to maximise muscle gain with low-moderate weight training by my HV method

As a muscle builder, volume should be of more concern to you. As discussed in the Science of Muscle Building section, volume {reps X Weights X sets} is THE most important muscle building determinant.

Training with low to moderate weights yields results if combined with moderate to heavy volume. This means 3-5 sets of 10-15 reps of 4-8 carefully chosen exercises.

This High Volume {HV} technique is my little newbie training secret for faster muscle gains in first 3 months of training.

If you are looking for a done-for-you program from someone who gained 41 pounds muscle in only 24 weeks, then download the NNMB Program. I highly recommend it.

Watch video below.

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