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Target Muscle: Moderate Heavy vs. Heavy



TID Board Of Directors
May 3, 2011
As I was working Hams today and doing RDLs and pyaramidding up the weight (doing reps in the 8-10 range),I hit my top set and determined that my back was too engaged so I lowered the weight back down. I generally find that with most ham work that moderate/heavy hits the target muscle better. As far as mechanical form goes, I'm pretty sure that my top set was at least 95% on par with the lower sets but I could feel the back getting engaged and less stretch on the hams.

So my question is: what exercises or bodyparts do you find that moderate/heavy hits the target muscle better than heavy (heavy of course being relative)? I also find this to be true with barbell rows. I can row 315 for reps with decent form but I don't feel it in my back nearly as much as when going a little lighter. As well, there are several isolation exercises where I find this to be true.

Once you shift effort from the target muscle it seems to be a matter of moving the weight vs. working the muscle. However, I'd like others thoughts on this as well.


Dec 15, 2010
When I lift I pyramid up to really heavy, then settle back down the the heaviest I can lift with proper form.


Strength Pimp
Feb 27, 2011
I understand completely what you've described and its a pain in the ass to me. I experience that when I do benchpress where the front delt, lats and tri's take a beating more so than the chest. There are plenty of other times this has happened to me... But lets use your example you give on the Romanian Deadlift.

To really work the hams on that lift, you want a full stretch ( I usually perform these on a platform so I can put the bar on the top of my feet at the bottom of the ROM) and as I come up I am squeezing my butt-cheeks and thinking about my hams contracting. But when I work up to the 1 or 2 rep range I think it becomes such a full on struggle to just move the weight, that the focus on contracting the target muscle just isn't there!

Or option B - Its a sub-conscious CNS fail-safe that recognizes over-whelming weight and prevents you from putting all that stress on one muscle that simply can't take it... This ones a little weird but its just a thought that ran thru my head one day and I thought it would be kinda cool if our CNS worked that way...

Anyway, I would suggest that its important to cross that line on occasion to make sure that you properly blast away at all those supporting muscle groups. Don't wanna isolate ALL the time if you know what I mean. The poundages will just keep going up and up and up as we get older!


VIP Member
Dec 9, 2010
i think alot has to do with type 1&2 muscles..for me to get size its all about mod heavy weight -4to6 rep range but to get strong its heavy as heck range 1-2 rep i can do 8 sets of 1 rep of 500lb on bench and not get sore but do 3 sets of 315 and get my chest sore

so its not the lbs but the time to move the weight which in turn changes the cns fire on the worked muscles...from t1 to t2 or the reverse


Sep 29, 2010
I feel the above^ and add that over time we get the ability to be 'in the muscle' more, working the target muscle consciously at weight- sure heavier blurs the line some, and we can get a bit sloppy sets in but focusing, 'feeling' the target muscle work gets me there. CNS conciousness I guess...