Maybe you’re not sure how to start lifting weights for a full-body workout. Or maybe you think you’d have to spend hours at the gym or bench press a hundred pounds to gain benefits. But lifting light weights is different from heavy lifting, which involves lifting the heaviest weight you can to make muscles bigger. “Light lifting is a type of resistance training that improves strength and preserves lean body mass,” says Brook Benten, personal trainer and co-author of Lift Light, Get Lean: 28-Day Weight Training Plan for Safe and Easy Weight Loss. “You’ll lift lighter weights for a number of repetitions, then take a break. This increases muscle endurance, which is what helps you perform daily tasks such as carrying grocery bags or doing yard work more easily.”
Obviously, “light” is subjective: What feels light to one person isn’t the same for someone else. “The weight you use should be light enough so that you can perform about 12 to 15 reps before your muscle becomes exhausted,” says Benten. “Typically, that’s between five to eight pounds for most women, though it’s fine to start lighter.” Even better? Light lifting also can be done anywhere, indoors or out, and you only need a basic set of dumbbells to get started.
Buy Lift Light, Get Lean: 28-Day Weight Training Plan for Safe and Easy Weight Loss
As with heavy lifting, focusing on technique is critical. “The key is that if you’re using good form and lifting to the point of fatigue, you will likely feel stronger after just a few weeks,” says Keli Roberts, American College of Sports Medicine certified exercise physiologist and certified personal trainer. “Doing light lifting several times a week should be your goal, and don’t skip a warmup, which is increasingly important as we get older.”
Ahead, learn more about the full-body benefits of light lifting: (Iryna Veklich - Getty Images)