Originally Written by the Iron Addict
Size Vs. Strength
This is about strength Vs. pure size type routines, where they fit in, and what realistic goals are to be considered an advanced trainee by genetically typical, and usually drug free standards.
Most guys just don’t have great genetics relative to adding size and strength to their frame. Knowing that, the key is to make the best of what you have. And for most guys that consists of being extremely focused, and extremely realistic. And the reality is, most guys can build a fair strength/size base if they train and diet correctly. I will use Stuart McRoberts goals/guidelines to define that strength level:
For Joe average of 5'9 190-205 in a fairly lean state, Joe has a 300 lb bench give or take a few lbs, and can do rep work with 250 +. We want to see Joe Squatting at least 400-450 for a single, or doing rep work with 350 +. Joe should also be able to do deads with about the same weights as his squat, or maybe a little higher. Stuart simply stated 300/400/500 for bench, squat, and deadlift.
Most guys can get there (at least within 50 lbs over or under dependant on body mechanics for each lift) if they TRULY dedicate themselves to bread and butter training and heavy eating. MOST guys never come close, but could if they didn't overtrain and under-eat.
The reason most (some fail purely because of diet) never get this so very important strength base is they always train doing too many lifts, using many techniques that are more specific to size instead of strength. Pure hypertrophy training is well and good IF it works for you, but it's time and place is AFTER you have dedicated yourself to building the foundation. I recently had a couple of personal training clients that were disappointed that the routine I wrote was not geared for towards "size" gains. They wanted less rest between lifts and more sets so they could focus on getting bigger. The problem was both these guys were beginner level weak (after training for years). In fact, 5 out of the 8 girls I currently train have a bigger squat and dead than these guys do. I don't care how many fast "pump" sets you do with girl weights. The truth is, you will still look like a girl if that is all the weight you use.
It doesn’t take long for most people to realize that they will never total Elite in powerlifting, nor do any serious damage on the posing dais. Genetics is the first and last word about how far you can go. You may never be freaky strong, or freaky huge. But with the correct focus, here is what will happen. After you have paid your dues with the big lifts for heavy weights and heavy eating, you will be stronger than about 90-95% of the guys in the gym. And a good percentage of you will have the size to go along with it. But.......some of you will not be as big as you "should be” for your strength. Guess what??? Now its time to start trying some of the protocols that tend to build size at the expense of strength. But also guess how much more effective that type of training is what you are not lifting girl weights!!!
The right way to get there for most people is to COMMIT to spending a couple of years (or more) worried about little more than the little more than adding weight on the bar from workout to workout. For many people, this is all they need to do to get huge. But SOME guys get a lot stronger without a linear increase in size. Often much of what occurs from a strength standpoint occurs primarily through innervation gains. This does little for size. But with patience, when the bar is a lot heavier, you will be too. Unless you are doing VERY LOW reps it is pretty difficult to add 75-125 lbs to your bench or dips, and 150-250 lbs to your squat and deadlift, and big numbers to all your other lifts without getting quite a bit bigger.
Now let me insert three VERY critical ideas here.
The first is MANY people think they are hardgainers, or naturally weak because they train and eat like shit. Train somewhat like many powerlifters (but with slightly higher reps) do for a few months and eat like a horse and you may find this is all irrelevant because you may find you build strength and size rapidly when not doing some of the crazy shit many bodybuilders do.
The second thing is that you realize it doesn't happen overnight, and if you are not progressing at a rate you think acceptable you need to do something few do in these days and times. You keep at your task and apply lots of thought, deductive reasoning, and learn everything you can about what you are attempting to do. And that doesn't mean from glossy coated muscle mags that are really supplement catalogs in disguise. Try Hardgainer magazine, Powerlifting USA (and yes, there is a lot in PL USA geared towards guys with great genetics, but it’s better than almost all the BB mags), and online sources that specifically STATE THE INFO IS GEARED TOWARD THE AVERAGE TRAINEE, NOT GENETIC WONDERS. And then FAITHFULLY apply what you know day in day out. This isn't stamp collecting we’re doing here. Its tough, and it takes balls to train and eat right consistently.
The Third thing is to accept the best of what you have and are capable of. Some people will never hit 300/400/500, and some will plow through them FAST once training right. If you are one of the extreme, extreme ecto's, or an endo that just isn't wired for strength, and you have truly paid your dues, and just don't have it. Do everything you can to get as strong as you can, then, a little stronger. THEN, and only then consider yourself "advanced" and change your focus to a hypertrophy routine SUITABLE FOR PEOPLE WITH AVERAGE GENETICS! This, for many people is simply a routine using higher reps, a few more lifts, with more sets than HIT/Hardgainer style training, but much less than volume training. Using an intensity level higher than volume, lower than hit.
Once you are MOST of the way there it is fine to experiment a little with some hypertrophy specific techniques, but continually trying these types of training too soon will usually just be a counterproductive waste of time. Some people find doing a small cycles of mid-level volume work interspersed with power style techniques provides additional growth without overtraining them. This is an option for those with slightly better than average recovery ability. I will go into more detail about the format in another article, but most people reading this should be focused about getting stronger for a while longer.