Youíre Too Weak to Get Big - Why More Plates Equals More Muscle

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  1. #1
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    Youíre Too Weak to Get Big - Why More Plates Equals More Muscle

    Youíre Too Weak to Get Big - Why More Plates Equals More Muscle

    Thereís a problem in gyms Ė weak lifters are trying to build muscle. I call it the WSSS: Weak Size-Seeker Syndrome. Is it keeping you from reaching your muscle-building potential? If so, donít worry. Thereís a cure.

    THE EVIDENCE
    Recently, researchers compared the effects of a short, strength training block on muscle hypertrophy. They took 26 trained men and split them into two groups:

    1. One group started training with a strength program using 4 sets of 1-3 reps. Then, after three weeks of training, they moved to a typical hypertrophy-training program using 4 sets of 8-12 reps for the next five weeks.
    2. The other group did hypertrophy training (4 x 8-12) for the entire study.

    At the end of 8 weeks, the group that started with a 3-week strength block had gained more strength AND size than the group that did hypertrophy-only training.

    Pretty cool, right? If this doesnít make you want to spend at least a portion of the year focusing on more traditional strength training, I donít know what will. It doesnít just make you stronger; it makes you look the part.

    But donít just wing it on a day-to-day or even week-to-week basis. Test it out with a more structured approach. Hereís how to apply the findings of this study to your own training.

    IF YOUíRE A BEGINNER
    If youíre new to lifting, donít worry about doing a low-rep strength phase just yet. Instead, start by picking one exercise variation from each of the following categories:

    • Squat
    • Deadlift
    • Chin-up
    • Shoulder Press
    • Row
    • Bench Press or Dip

    Remember that for muscle growth, thereís not one specific exercise variation you HAVE to do. Pick the variation for each exercise that feels good on your joints and allows you to feel the target muscles working.

    Once you have your lifts, learn how to do them with proper technique. Earn the big weights by first demonstrating proper form with the lighter weights. Keep a training log and add quality reps or weight each workout. Keep increasing your performance for these lifts in the 6-12 rep range.
    Processing the data, please give it a few seconds...

    You can do all the movements in one workout to start. After a few months, split them up into two different workouts (like upper/lower) and add a few more exercises. Yes, you can add some isolation exercises to hit smaller muscle groups, but resist the temptation to keep adding more and more exercises.

    Remember, more is not always better. Getting better at the exercises you already do will make you better. If you substantially increase the amount of weight you can do on your basic exercises in the 6-12 rep range, youíll get substantially bigger.

    IF YOUíRE INTERMEDIATE OR ADVANCED
    If youíre experienced but have hit a hypertrophy plateau, use strength blocks. Spend 2-4 weeks of training with lower reps and aim to get stronger.

    While you may not gain much size during this block, youíll get a lot stronger. When you return to your regular hypertrophy training, itíll be a fresh training stimulus. This, combined with your newfound strength, will allow you to lift more weight. Youíll now be primed for faster and more substantial muscle growth.

    If you normally prefer high reps, donít feel you have to go all the way down to the 1-3 rep range like they did in the study. Try the 4-6 rep range or even 5-8 range if you normally respond better to higher reps. Both can work for building strength.

    HOW STRONG DO YOU NEED TO GET?
    Thanks to social media, you can see world-class lifters perform amazing feats of strength. While this can be inspiring for some, it can also be depressing. You donít have to possess the strength of an elite strength athlete to build muscle. You can find some more reasonable standards here:

    • Strength & Social Media: A Reality Check
    • 5 Realistic Tests of Strength

    Donít feel discouraged if you fall far short of these standards, and donít get impatient and try to rush the process with ego lifting. Stay focused on your training journal. If youíre progressively getting stronger, then youíre on track.

    BUT, BUT WHAT ABOUT THAT ONE GUY?
    Now, you might be thinking of a bodybuilder youíve seen on YouTube or Instagram whoís massive yet seems to do only light pump-and-burn training with endless exercise variation. You might ask, ďShouldnít I just do what he does?Ē

    Let me answer by asking you two questions:
    1. Is what a genetically gifted, chemically-enhanced bodybuilder does to MAINTAIN his physique the best way for you to BUILD yours?
    2. Can YOU actually reach your muscle-building potential with just light-weight pump training?

    Ultimately, you need to find what works for you. If you can reach your potential with only light pumping sets, all the best to you. However, based on the research, getting stronger can help you get bigger.

    And based on my experience with clients and athletes, drug-free muscle is built when youíre getting stronger for reps. Muscle growth stops when progression stops.


    Reference:
    Carvalho, L., Junior, R. M., Truffi, G., Serra, A., Sander, R., De Souza, E. O., & Barroso, R. (2020). Is stronger better? Influence of a strength phase followed by a hypertrophy phase on muscular adaptations in resistance-trained men. Research in Sports Medicine, 1Ė11. https://doi.org/10.1080/15438627.2020.1853546
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  2. #2
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    Good information. I'd add to this a bit in that hypertrophy-style training does produce more size gains than strength training alone. There are tons of power lifters who have great squats and benches but average chest and not as much quad mass as bodybuilders of moderate strength. Rotating some strength training phases into one's routine is a good idea and less taxing on the joints than doing strictly powerlifting.

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    This was a great read ! Thanks for the post

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    Quote Originally Posted by Clive Mossmoon View Post
    Good information. I'd add to this a bit in that hypertrophy-style training does produce more size gains than strength training alone. There are tons of power lifters who have great squats and benches but average chest and not as much quad mass as bodybuilders of moderate strength. Rotating some strength training phases into one's routine is a good idea and less taxing on the joints than doing strictly powerlifting.
    I think it has more to do with how PLers are benching and squatting. Theyíre more focused on moving weight from point a to b than trying to squat to build quads or bench to build a chest. Show me someone who squats like a bodybuilder who moves big weight and has undersized legs or show me someone who benches like a bodybuilder who moves big weight and doesnít have a massive chest.
    The fastest way to get big is to get as possible with the correct form. A bodybuilder shouldnít use the same form on most movements as a power lifter. Itís comparing apples to oranges. If youíre getting stronger, you will get bigger.
    Last edited by Bft84; 06-06-2021 at 09:54 AM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Bft84 View Post
    I think it has more to do with how PLers are benching and squatting. Theyíre more focused on moving weight from point a to b than trying to squat to build quads or bench to build a chest. Show me someone who squats like a bodybuilder who moves big weight and has undersized legs or show me someone who benches like a bodybuilder who moves big weight and doesnít have a massive chest.
    The fastest way to get big is to get as possible with the correct form. A bodybuilder shouldnít use the same form on most movements as a power lifter. Itís comparing apples to oranges. If youíre getting stronger, you will get bigger.

    By training like a bodybuilder do you mean increased volume, or the range of motion, or variety of exercise? From my experience when I started training with more volume and stopped powerlifting workouts (heavy triples, concentration of weight vs/ volume) I gained more size in the chest, and legs (arms, calves, etc. are not comparable as a powerlifter doesn't typically target those unless they are the weak link in one of the big 3 lifts). YMMV but heavy low-ish volume work did not seem to build much size, but did increase strength.

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    Love it. Starting strength did wonders for me when I was getting started.

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    Strength blocks and hypertrophy blocks arenít necessary. The primary driver of growth is mechanical tension.
    If youíre not getting stronger youíre not growing real tissue.
    DC training, blood and guts, or a Jordan Peters program will work for everyone. The only type of hypertrophy that matters is myofibril. This happens with heavy training.
    Eat and train progressive. Thatís it. Building muscle is simple.
    pick a couple exercises per body part and beat them into the ground. Donít change the exercise until you fail to add weight or reps 2 weeks in a row.
    Keep a log book. Log everything. Do this for years consistently.
    If youíre not getting stronger youíre wasting your time. 5-9,10-12,15-20 reps.
    Dont put the weight down until you canít lift it.
    The biggest guys, the ones who keep their size, the ones who have that dense grainy muscle are the ones who got a strong as possible. You canít do continuous volume to make up for lack or more intensity.
    I can get more out of one set than a lot of guys get out of 10.
    Train like thereís a gun to your familyís head. Throw your rpe, rir out the window. Until youíve really pushed for a long time and know what true failure is then you have no idea how to even gauge how close you are.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Clive Mossmoon View Post
    By training like a bodybuilder do you mean increased volume, or the range of motion, or variety of exercise? From my experience when I started training with more volume and stopped powerlifting workouts (heavy triples, concentration of weight vs/ volume) I gained more size in the chest, and legs (arms, calves, etc. are not comparable as a powerlifter doesn't typically target those unless they are the weak link in one of the big 3 lifts). YMMV but heavy low-ish volume work did not seem to build much size, but did increase strength.
    Maybe consider this:

    Powerlifter benching 505 for 1 rep x 10 sets. Total poundage used 5,050 pounds moved.
    Bbuilder bencing 335 for 8 reps x 5 sets. Total poundage used 13,400 pounds moved.

    Powerlifter is stronger perhaps but didn't do as much "work" or energy used.

    As Arnold once said, "To get big you have to get strong, there is no big without strong."

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    Good stuff Coming back to finish

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    Quote Originally Posted by Bft84 View Post
    Strength blocks and hypertrophy blocks arenít necessary. The primary driver of growth is mechanical tension.
    If youíre not getting stronger youíre not growing real tissue.
    DC training, blood and guts, or a Jordan Peters program will work for everyone. The only type of hypertrophy that matters is myofibril. This happens with heavy training.
    Eat and train progressive. Thatís it. Building muscle is simple.
    pick a couple exercises per body part and beat them into the ground. Donít change the exercise until you fail to add weight or reps 2 weeks in a row.
    Keep a log book. Log everything. Do this for years consistently.
    If youíre not getting stronger youíre wasting your time. 5-9,10-12,15-20 reps.
    Dont put the weight down until you canít lift it.
    The biggest guys, the ones who keep their size, the ones who have that dense grainy muscle are the ones who got a strong as possible. You canít do continuous volume to make up for lack or more intensity.
    I can get more out of one set than a lot of guys get out of 10.
    Train like thereís a gun to your familyís head. Throw your rpe, rir out the window. Until youíve really pushed for a long time and know what true failure is then you have no idea how to even gauge how close you are.

    This is how I used to train. It is really good advice IMHO. As a wrestler/grappler we went to failure in all we did. be it running, up/downs, bear crawls, or weight lifting. Though IMO it is also a young mans game. If I did that now I do not believe it would benefit me as much. As we age, we lose the ability to heal as fast, this is undeniable.

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    Quote Originally Posted by CowboyPump77 View Post
    This is how I used to train. It is really good advice IMHO. As a wrestler/grappler we went to failure in all we did. be it running, up/downs, bear crawls, or weight lifting. Though IMO it is also a young mans game. If I did that now I do not believe it would benefit me as much. As we age, we lose the ability to heal as fast, this is undeniable.
    Itís all about recovery and controlling the volume. If someone canít recover then they should lower the volume. Mechanical tension is the primary driver of growth.
    I train 3 days a week upper/lower split. 2 exercise rotations. 2 working sets of failure per exercise. If Iím not recovering Iíll adjust calories or take an extra day off or lower volume. Set 1 5-9reps, set 2 10-12 both failure. 2 exercises per body part. Except shoulders and arms. 1 exercise for shoulders, biceps, and triceps. Legs get 2 for quads, 2 for hams. One exercise for hams and quads will be 2x15-20.
    shoulders will be 2x15-20.
    biceps 6-9,10-12,15-20
    As we get older I think maybe raising the rep ranges would probably be the key. So 15-20set 1, 20-30 set 2. Thatís how Iíll train as I get older. The same split and principles but with a higher rep range.
    No fluff exercises. Like pec dec for chest.
    no pressing for shoulders.
    when I fail to add weight or reps 2weeks in a row I change the exercise.

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    I'm very interested in how your training will evolve as yrs pass..
    You've accomplished a lot but as we age we have to adjust our training..which means heavy=injury
    And volume is where it's at..I will be following you as yrs pass..84 props Brother..

    My PR's are all in the past...BUT
    They are still pretty damn good...at 42 yrs at 177lbs..incline bench 4reps at 315...bent over rows 315.set of 8...wide grip pull ups with a plate for 3 sets of 6..
    On 300mgs of an EQ blend...100mgs of Tren E and 40mg of Dbol....wait...No Test..That was 13 yrs ago but F-ing WOW..

    It was a Golden Time...my time..and I will never forget..

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