Want Size? Seek Strength!

Although form and more specifically perfect form is hailed as the ‘’number one’’ variable in achieving size, there comes a point when you need to say ‘’stop p****** about and lift some weight!’’ Before this misinterpreted, you should only ever use great form there is denying this! However, there are occasions when you see people become so obsessed, so pedantic and caught up in the ‘’good form’’ mind-set that they end up lifting Mickey Mouse weight.

Again, it is important to note there is no direct correlation between strength and size, but the reality of it is – if you shift big weight you will almost certainly see a progressive step in muscular development. Just in case you are still going to take this out of context, always focus on solid form and understand there is a time and place for heavy lifting – in my opinion for the average Joe (chasing size) every 3 weeks following two higher volume weeks.

Moving on, where does the payoff come from when handling heavier poundages in the gym?

There are several angles we can look at here, and we will begin with the regulating bodies of the human anatomy – hormones.

The wonderful theory of forced physical adaptation states that, in layman’s terms if you put the body through an experience it is hasn’t been through before on a consistent basis it absolutely has to react. The reaction is adaptation, which is of course an increase in strength. As a result, it is safe to say the hormone reaction (testosterone and growth hormone mainly) is preferential for muscular development. There have been countless occasions where athletes who have struggled to gain size have switched their game plan, started to move heavier weights and quickly smashed those barriers down which had begun to pin them back!

Whilst I did previously state that lifting heavier every 3 weeks was what I would recommend, using a rep range with fast explosive form in the region of 3-5 (can vary) it goes without saying – if you get stronger, you will inevitably be able to perform with heavier weights in higher rep ranges. This takes us back to the principle of forced physical adaptation. Many individuals who strive for size are normally knocking about within the realms of sarcoplasmic hypertrophy with their said ‘’bodybuilder’’ rep ranges (think that Holy Grail number 12). There is nothing wrong with this at all! However, one of the benefits of applying rep ranges designed for strength is that you will be able to knock on the door of myofibrillar hypertrophy – something occurs as a result of getting stronger.

If there is one thing I have learnt from spending time with some of the best trainers in the industry it is this – it pays to vary the tempo, rep range and volume of your training. Strength training is an area many will overlook just because they are not fixated with big lifts. Nevertheless, getting stronger is generally a positive achievement.

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