This is a question that comes up amongst body builders or weight lifters at every level. Even if you just focus on strength training within your workouts, you may wonder which approach works best for you. Deciding upon the right time to lift heavy or to go lighter can be a very important debate to ponder. The easy answer is that it depends upon the circumstance and your fitness level.
There is a time when lifting heavier makes sense, and where it’s necessary. If for example you are focused on a very simple movement within a specific body part, say the chest, then you want to lift heavier. When you are moving through a chest press or when you are doing a simple bicep curl, then lifting heavier is essential. This is the only real way to challenge the muscle and to ask for it to change.
Consider What You Are Doing and What Level You Are At
If however you are performing a more complex movement such as a shoulder press or even a compound movement like a bicep curl with a lunge, then you may want to lift lighter. If you are ever going to compromise form or technique, then start by lifting lighter until you master the movement.
You can always move up and lift heavier, but you may need to give yourself time to get to that. Though you might think that lifting heavy all the time works well, you don’t ever want to risk injury. You also want to be careful not to go too light or else you won’t challenge your body or change the muscle. So find your middle ground, consider the activity itself, and then combine heavy and light lifting for a robust and comprehensive weight workout.