This study found that performing 3 sets to failure at 30% 1RM and 80% 1RM lead to similar growth. Light weights can cause just as much hypertrophy as heavy weights as long as you perform sets to failure! However, if gaining strength is your goal, you should stick to heavier weights as this study found greater strength gains in the group performing sets at 80% 1RM compared to the 30% 1RM group.
Source: Mitchell, C. J., Churchward-Venne, T. A., West, D. D., Burd, N. A., Breen, L., Baker, S. K., & Phillips, S. M. (2012). Resistance exercise load does not determine training-mediated hypertrophic gains in young men. American Journal of Physiology-Heart and Circulatory Physiology.
From being a mediocre athlete, to professional powerlifter and strength coach, and now to researcher and writer, Charlie combines education and experience in the effort to help Bridge the Gap Between Science and Application. Charlie performs double duty by being the Content Manager for The Muscle PhD as well as the Director of Human Performance at the Applied Science and Performance Institute in Tampa, FL. To appease the nerds, Charlie is a PhD candidate in Human Performance with a master’s degree in Kinesiology and a bachelor’s degree in Exercise Science. For more alphabet soup, Charlie is also a Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist (CSCS), an ACSM-certified Exercise Physiologist (ACSM-EP), and a USA Weightlifting-certified performance coach (USAW).