There is a huge misconception that you need to lift heavy to build muscle mass. It’s more about form by reaching a peak contraction and stimulating your muscles for an extended period of time. Most people tend to use too heavy of a weight and they look to get the “weight up” at all costs, jerking the weight and using a ton of momentum, while neglecting the muscles that they actually are trying to work.
What works for one guy will not necessarily work for you. You need to find what is right for you. Listen to your body. See how your body responds to certain exercises. Just because Joe Schmo has 20 inch arms and only does dips and barbell curls doesn’t mean you’ll see the same results by doing just dips and barbell curls. Barbell curls obviously work for Joe Schmo but they may not work for you. What is correct for one person does not necessarily mean that it is right for you. His body structure is entirely different from yours and he may experience growth from something that you may never experience growth from. Furthermore, he may be an endomorph, ectomorph, or mesomorph while you are something different.
We still have those naysayers and those who say “I heard you have to train heavy to gain muscle mass.” Heavy is all relative. People who tell you that are those watching videos of guys doing tremendous amounts of weight. They see bodybuilders and powerlifters alike who are tremendous guys who are handling exorbitant amounts of weights. You see guys bench pressing 600 lbs. and squatting 700 lbs. and you think to yourself that is the only way to get “huge”. False. These guys did not start out lifting those weights. It is a gradual approach.
The great bodybuilder and 8X Mr. Olympia Champion, Ronnie Coleman, may be able to perform a 2400 lb. leg press for 10 reps and you call that heavy. However, for him, he uses weights he can handle. You have to realize it isn’t heavy for King Ronnie. Obviously, it is heavy for you and I, but he is using a weight he can handle. You don’t need to train “heavy” to build muscle. Get out of the routine of going by numbers that others use and looking at the numbers on its face. Let your body crunch the numbers based upon how you feel and how you respond to the routines you are doing. If you experience growth with an exercise, write it down and continue its use. If you don’t experience growth with it, write it down and don’t continue its use. Sometimes you’ll experience tremendous strides with one particular exercise but then it will fade. Take note of it and move on to something else. Sometimes supersets do wonders with certain bodyparts and don’t with others. Find out by listening to your body and everything it tells you. You need to find out what is right for you. Strength is relative and strength is actually developed by doing perfect form and gradually you will see the improvements you are looking for.