Max Strength for Maximum Size
The never ending discussion, can you add size while increasing strength? Is it possible to focus on both at the same time? Maybe your bench is improving but your arms and chest aren’t growing. Is this something that has been causing a massive struggle? We have the answers to targeting maximal strength while catering toward your image goals!
Stronger or Bigger?
Early on in most strength ventures, lifting goals are almost entirely based around moving the numbers. Recognizing that neurological gains will happen for 8-12 weeks in an untrained adolescent, the means of increasing weight occurs relatively quickly. This sparks a dramatic interest in continually moving those numbers. Each week, young lifters want to continue to grow their respective numbers, ultimately focusing on maximal strength.
This happens consistently for about 10-12 months. Eventually, younger strength athletes, particularly boys, begin to have a greater focus on actually getting bigger. Lifters want to see their arms grow, their chest grow, the backs get even bigger and if they are athletes they want to see their quads start to grow.
That feeling the 15 year old gets after three months of training.
The battle between being strong and being bigger ensues. The internet articles about Olympic weightlifters being smaller than bodybuilders frequent their web browser. They start to read more about sarcoplasmic hypertrophy and even start to learn about the importance of nutrition, a positive aspect behind their inquisitive nature. The discussion begins in their brain, they like being strong but they also want to fill out that shirt they just picked up from Abercrombie and Fitch.
Get STRONG AF
Let’s be real, maximal strength will still contribute to maximum size. There are a few physiological triggers at play with maximal strength. Comprehending myofibrillar hypertrophy is key behind gains in strength. If we can increase the number of myofibers, we know that we will likely add more sarcomeres, leading to a greater muscular contraction force. As strength increases, muscular density will increase. Over 3-5 months of training, density will dramatically increase and the body will adapt with a harder appearance, similar to that of a gymnast (if nutrition is in accordance with proper recovery).
As younger lifters improve their strength, they learn how to focus their mental output. They improve their mind-muscle connection and intramuscular coordination. This new found coordination optimizes their twitch force and strength continues to improve. By improving work capacity through myofibrillar work, the body will theoretically grow more fast twitch muscle fibers which will come into play later on when the meathead wants to smash the size of their muscle mass.
BRUH, I want SIZE!
Size is the sought after golden plates of the teenage generation. Everyone wants to get big. Everyone wants recognition of hard work. They want to see the gains pay off in the mirror, they want people to notice their efforts to improve their sports performance! Could this be viewed as a negative due to external gratification? Maybe, but let’s be real, everyone LOVES a back rub and getting bigger is no different.
With intermediate athletes, it is important that every two months of strength work is followed by one hard month of sarcoplasmic work. This keeps both the anaerobic alactic energy system and anaerobic glycolysis fine tuned as the body adapts and the mind learns how to handle the varying stress that high rep training causes on the body. During training, rest periods will be a bit shorter and the metabolic stress will spark a massive growth in extracellular fluid. This is the KEY to massive size gains while making even greater advancements from a mental perspective.
Remember back to the stimulation of the fast twitch muscle fibers during myofibrillar hypertrophy. This will carry over well during size based training. There is an incredibly effective protein channel known as Aquaporin-4. This channel is found almost entirely within fast twitch muscle fibers and is responsible for flooding the sarcoplasm with extracellular water. As the fast twitch density develops, it enables more muscular growth in greater rep ranges.
Size based training can be incredibly challenging for an intermediate athlete. By focusing on size based training AND strength based work, the athlete is able to tap into the positive realm of each training method while developing themselves effectively over a very long period of time.
Train Max Strength AND Maximal Size...BUT HOW?!?!?!
The question remains, HOW can we train both aspects of growth effectively? Is it possible to stimulate size through long term development of strength? Does a hybrid system of strength lead to overall improvement effectively?
Absolutely. Both methods are key to long term sport development and overall success of long term training. Try this routine for strength and size.
1A) Back Squat 5 x 2
Ramp to a heavy double over five sets.
2A) Narrow Stance Back Squat 4 x 17-20
2B) DB Stiff Leg Dead 4 x 17-20
45-60 seconds rest
This setup will stimulate impressive LEG STRENGTH while leading to a very strong development in muscular size during the high rep sets.
Upper Body Day
Skip to 7:29!
1A) Dips 7 x 3-4 Ramping up over the seven sets to an impressive weight
2A) DB Bench 4 x 17-20
2B) Pull Up 4 x 8-10
This will lead to strength gains in the tricep and pecs while also muscle mass gains in the pecs and shoulders and back from higher rep work. Over long periods of time, this will not only improve strength and mass but it will also lead to greater structural integrity!
Strength training success is almost entirely based around longevity and variable stimuli. Utilizing various rep ranges and intensity leads to gains in strength and size and improves every mental aspect behind resistance training. It is very important to understand how each individual responds to different methods of training and how they handle the stress in regards to long term growth.
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