Which one is better?
Beginner lifters have this question a LOT.
I mean, a LOT. I had this question before a thousand times before I even started to add weights to the bar.
But if you looked at me during those days, I was completely sucked up, skinny as fuck.
I couldn’t even bench 100lbs for 5 reps for God’s sake.
And there I was overthinking about “Should I train for strength or size.”
Here’s the thing: If you’re a complete beginner, just about ANY decent, balanced, recoverable program will make you stronger AND bigger.
I’m assuming that you always get enough sleep and food.
Now even though that’s true, the fact still remains: when you focus solely on one, you get better results in that path.
But I’m not saying you won’t get stronger if you try to get bigger!
All I’m saying is that you’ll get better strength gains if you train for strength, and better muscle gains if you train for size.
If you get stronger, you also get a little bigger as a result of progressive overload.
Now let’s say you’re training with a lot of sets and exercise variation–that’s when you’re training for size.
When you get bigger, you automatically get a little stronger as a result of increased muscle size.
So what’s the common denominator here? It depends on that one thing.
Which brings me to the next point.
It all depends on that one thing
What’s this one thing I’m talking about here?
I want you to ask yourself these questions:
- Do I even care about getting stronger? Or do I want the sleeve-hugging arms and the shirt-stretching pecs?
- Do I vomit at the idea of vanity? And do I want the rewarding feeling of making progress in your lifts when you’re training in the gym?
- Do I want both size and strength? Am I willing to sacrifice a little bit of definition to achieve the same goals?
By now, you should have a pretty defined goal at the back of your head. If you’re honest with yourself, that is.
Don’t worry, no one’s ever going to know what’s in your head. (Unless you tell them, dummy,)
So, do you want that herculean sense of valor as you lift a jaw-dropping 500lb deadlift?
That jaw-dropping 405lbs squat that stops even the big dudes in the middle of their sets?
The elusive 225lbs Overhead Press that’s manly as fuck.
You’ll definitely get stupidly dense muscles having those lifts, but here’s the deal:
It will take a long longer before you see some size results. If that’s okay with you, then I say go for it! Train for strength.
Here’s one FREE program that has already helped tens of thousands of people add 60lbs to their squat, 30lbs to their bench and overhead press, and 60lbs to their Deadlifts in just 30 DAYS, by just training as little as 1 hour per session, 3x per week.
I used this program to add 70lbs to my bench press in just 3 months! It’s fucking phenomenal. Here’s the program:
If you don’t know how to do these exercise with proper form (you don’t want a snapped up back, do you?), then I highly recommend checking out Starting Strength Book (Amazon afflink) by Mark Rippetoe.
Otherwise, if you want to get a solid physique that gives the impression that you can lift a TON of weight, then definitely start training for size.
And no, you won’t get bulky. Naturals don’t get bulky unless they’re fat.
Here’s another program that’s also helped tons of people around the world achieve a mind-boggling physique, week-by-week: Jeff Nippard’s Fundamentals Hypertrophy Program.
I’m not affiliated with him, but it’s so good I can’t help but recommend it.
If your goal is to just look good naked, then it’s the program for you.
If you’re still not convinced, then let’s dive in deeper.
Does training for strength or size really have any difference?
Strength training and training for hypertrophy (that’s the scientific term for muscle growth) have quite some differences when it comes to overall program design.
When training for strength, you’re training to get stronger at specific lifts.
Particularly, BIG, compound movements like the Bench Press, Overhead Press, Squat, Deadlift.
Now, some people, like Alex from Alpha Destiny prefer to get stronger at a variety of compound lifts, rather than just the basic variation.
That’s totally fine, especially if you’re just a recreational lifter.
Anyway, I’m going off on a tangent here. Training for Strength is much more systematic, in my opinion.
What’s the reason? The reason is you’re training for what we call specificity.
Specificity means that you can only use exercises that improve on your main macho lift.
For example, the Close Grip Bench Press is much more specific to the Flat Barbell Bench Press than an Incline Dumbbell Press.
So, by using the Close Grip Bench Press (a variation really close to the movement pattern of a flat barbell bench press), you can improve your Bench Press faster than if you used an Incline Dumbbell Press.
Because it’s more specific to the movement. Does that make sense?
That’s what strength training is all about.
When you’re training for size, you can almost do ANY variation of exercises.
So now, you can use Dumbbell Bench Presses, Cable Flies, Incline Bench Presses instead of regular Bench Pressing variations because the goal is “to build your chest” rather than “to build strength on the Bench”.
What’s the reason? The reason is that some exercises are more effective in targeting muscles than regular, standard variations.
It’s why bodybuilders do a lot of different exercises!
You may even see big guys on Instagram go as far as doing extreme variations just to “reinvent the wheel”. That’s not it, but you get the point:
Exercise variation allows you to target your muscle groups from different angles.
Notice that I said “muscle groups”, not muscles.
But anyway, I hope you get my point. Also, here’s another one:
Training for size requires significantly more volume (sets/reps) than regular strength training.
It was found that Volume is the key driver to hypertrophy, and even common sense says it’s true!
Think about it: when your muscles can handle more amount of work (not necessarily weight, but it’s valid) than before, then it gets bigger when it finishes recovering!
So what now?
If you’ve reached this far, then I hope you got the most basic idea of both training for strength and/or size.
I’ll leave it to you to decide what’s best.
That said, I’ll see you guys next time.
Get strong, geeks!