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How to Gain Muscle with Less Weight

train Sep 29, 2023
How to Gain Muscle with Less Weight | Arangio

You can have your ideal body.  

One that provides you the ability to do whatever you want and live a wonderful lifestyle, all while having an impact that you’re proud of.  

Helping others and leaving a legacy.  

But it won’t happen by accident. So, start getting clear about where you want to go.  

Once you have a destination, it’s much easier to start on a journey.  

Here's an article that's especially helpful if you have ever experienced achy joints from lifting too heavy.    

How to Gain Muscle with Less Weight

By Joseph Arangio

Originally appeared in Men's Journal magazine

We all know that the more weight you lift, the more muscle you gain. Just look to the biggest guys in the gym, going straight for the 45-pound plates. But this isn’t the only way to gain muscle — great news for those over-40 men who want to get big, but whose joints are unhappy under large loads. The other simple way to go about it?

Up your volume.

As long as you do enough reps, nearly all weights yield the same strengthening results. That means pressing a 15-pound dumbbell overhead 20 times can build as much muscle as pressing a 50-pounder five times. “The key is working to fatigue, regardless of how you get there,” says Stuart Phillips, a kinesiology professor at McMaster University in Ontario.

“If you hit the gym to stay strong and healthy, you can lift lighter weights to fatigue and still gain strength.” (That goes for bodyweight moves like push-ups and pull-ups, too. These exercises can be just as effective as barbell work — just make sure to keep going until you max out.)

Here, you’ll find a total-body routine that will produce strength results no matter what weight you use. The key? Make sure that, after you’re done with your warm-up, you do each exercise until you can’t do one. More. Rep.

Do each warm-up move for 2 minutes straight (yes, you read that right — a full two minutes).

Rest 15 seconds between moves.

1A. Seal Jump

Stand with your feet together. Your arms are straight out in front of your chest with palms together. Simultaneously pull both your shoulder blades and arms back. Keep your arms parallel to the floor. At the same time, jump up just enough to spread your feet out wide. Without pausing, reverse the movement. Repeat.

1B. Burpee

Assume a shoulder-width stance with your arms at your sides. Drive your hips back, bend your knees, place your hands on the floor, and kick your legs back. Now you’re in a push-up position. Do one push-up and then hop back into a squat. Stand up quickly and hop. Repeat.  

Then, Squat

Perform this squat using any amount of weight, and continue to do reps until you hit failure. (A good rule of thumb: If you’re using an empty barbell, aim for at least 20 reps.) Rest for 45 seconds, and do one more set.

2A. Barbell Zercher Squat

Hold the bar in the crooks of your arms, tightly against your chest, with hands crossed. Drive your hips back and squat down until your thighs are parallel to the floor. Pause and return to the start.

Finish the Workout with Four Push-Pull Exercises

Perform each exercise with any amount of weight, and continue to do reps until you hit failure. (A good rule of thumb: If you’re using an empty barbell, aim for at least 20 reps.)

Rest 45 seconds, then repeat for the next exercise. Once you’ve completed all four moves, do the entire sequence one more time.

3A. “1.5″ Chin-up

Grab a pull-up bar with a shoulder-width grip, palms facing you. Hang at arm’s length and pull your shoulder blades down and back. Bend your elbows and pull the bar into your chest; pause. Now lower yourself until your arms are bent to 90 degrees; pause here again. Pull the bar into your chest again; pause and return to the start. That’s one rep. Repeat until you can no longer continue with good form.

3B. Barbell Shoulder Front Press

Grab a bar with a shoulder-width, overhand grip. Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart. Push the barbell straight overhead, pause, and then return to the start. Repeat.

3C. Barbell Lat Row with Underhand Grip

Stand with feet shoulder-width apart and holding a barbell with an underhand grip, hands slightly wider than shoulder-width. Hinge forward, pushing hips back, until your torso is nearly parallel to the floor, knees bent. Squeeze your shoulder blades together and pull the bar into your upper abs. Pause, then return to the start.

3D. Barbell Floor Chest Press

Lie on the floor with legs extended while holding a barbell with an overhand, shoulder-width grip, elbows bent at 90 degrees so your upper arms are flush to the floor. Drive the barbell overhead; pause. Slowly lower back to start and repeat.  


I had a conversation with a busy professional man, over 40 years, who was looking to work with the best personal trainer in Bethlehem, PA. He discussed feeling hopeless due to weight gain and having very low energy. He was ready to give up.

Maybe you've felt this way too.

He was a little surprised at my response...

After 25+ years of coaching, there is NOT a single day that goes by in my fitness-and-nutrition coaching business that someone is waving the white flag.

They are giving up. They are going against what they really want and desire.

They are leaving the world with a blank space... missing out on their talents and abilities.

My advice to you? Don't give up. You can do this.

Keep believing. Keep hoping. Keep moving.

Take that next step.

If you wave the white flag, you surrender and you won't get there.

I'm here to inspire you to finish. 

To your success,

Coach Joe



Joseph Arangio helps 40+ men and women lose weight, gain strength, and slow aging. He's delivered over 100,000 transformation programs to satisfied clients around the globe. If you want to increase longevity with the best online age-management program, or you want to visit the best age-management program in the Lehigh Valley, you can take a free 14-day trial.

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