Getting stronger not bulkier

Discussion in 'Health and Fitness' started by wbas88, Nov 11, 2009.

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  1. Hey all,

    I've been hitting the gym 5-6 days a week lately and I have a question. My main goal is to get stronger, I don't care if I'm the same skinny guy in 5 months, and I'm using the gym equipment to help me so I can do more press-ups and heaves. (Before you say anything I also include those two workouts rigourously in my workout...sit-ups I have covered). Anyways, when working on the gym equipment, such as lateral pull-downs, horizontal bench press, etc. should I do a medium weight, 3-4 sets, 10-15 reps, or should I increase the weight and maybe do a few less sets and a few less reps, say 3 sets of 8 reps? I find when I do the medium weights more my arms are sorer (good thing I assume) then when I do the heavy weights fewer times, but to fatigue.

    Basically, when wanting to get stronger, is it the weight you're lifting, or the reps that matter?

  2. For your specific thread title, the answer is don't eat more then you usually do.

    Bulk comes from excess calories.

    If you're goal is to become stronger, lower reps, high weight NOT to failure, only do that once every 4-8 weeks to retest your max.
  3. Both. Use heavy(this is always a relative term; what will feel heavy to you is medium for other people and vice versa)for 3 - 5 Sets of 5 Reps. Use compound exercises - Bench, Squat, Deadlift, Rows, Push-Press etc.

    As Ian pointed out, do NOT do Singles except to test yourself every couple of months. One of the instructors at my gym Bench's 185k, but usually trains with "lighter" weights. He only does a 400lb Bench every three months, to test his strength.

    Medium weights and reps(8 - 12)are used to cause hypertrophy(bulking up). This is why Bodybuilders have bigger muscles than Powerlifters or Olympic Weightlifters, but can usually lift less weight. :wink:
  4. As to the above, I would also advise building a base level of strength through higher reps for a few months (2-3) if you haven't done any weight lifting previously.

    Tendon strength is slower to progress (and slower to heal) then muscular strength, so if you start squatting say 100kg within a few months of training (which is entirely plausible), you can develop tendon 'niggles'.

    I will reiterate though- higher reps does not equal higher mass.
    You can keep the reps high, but have the same (ok, a bit more) calories and progress without extra mass, HOWEVER higher reps strain the body (higher volume) then lower reps with a higher weight (which incorporates a higher CNS utilisation), which means you end up needing more calories to recover.
  5. Apparently the way to develop extreme strength without size is to do very heavy negatives. A triple jumper at Glasgow Uni did his PhD on this a few years ago.

    Negatives are a pain to organise though, unless you use machines - lift with two hands (or legs), lower on one. Even then you are doing a lot of concentric work lifting the weight - you can lower a load under control, even on one limb.
  6. You could start doing free weights concentrating on core strength - as this is where power comes from.
  7. That is advanced training. You woud need a good base level of strength, plenty of experiance with the major lifts and a Spotter you trust implicitely.

    I train in a gym with some real monsters; blokes who can Bench 400lb and Squat with over 500lb for reps. I have'nt seen them perform Negatives except as a very occasional change of routine when they are feeling stale.

    And what's the point of training Negs on a Machine? Better to just lift normally with Free Weights. You'll get a better workout. :roll:
  10. In the plethora of "scientific advice" offered, everybody seems to have forgotten the basics, in that we humans haven't largely changed in the past three and a half thousand/milligan years and thus any rules and exercises we carry out will have exactly the same effect now as they did then. Back to basics, methinks.


  11. Unfotunately I doubt that is a long term way of training, since the strain on the CNS from even 1 session of negatives is pretty high.

    You could probably do 3 sessions (1 a week), before you either got ill, fatiqued or more likely developed a tendon/muscle strain.

    That said, I haven't seen the thesis, but I bet there is quite a lot of variances to it (ie they aren't doing 2-3 negative sessions a week).

    Note- I'm not saying that you have endorsed that approach, but I bet some numpty who doesn't know what a deadlift is will read your little snippet and think 'If I do negative bicep curls every day, they will get huge'.
  12. ^^^ True, but daft training takes place in lots of different ways. I knew a guy who played under 21 rugby for Scotland who was training maximally on squats and benching every day (Sundays off - the gym was closed), with no back, bicep or calf work. I (naughtily) crippled him with chins and calf raises just to make a point. The explosive jerking techniques that people use to lift weights concentrically are also a nightmare.
  13. Worst. Bench. Ever: I watched one Brainiac do a fcuking Wrestler's Bridge while "Benching" - I use the word in it's loosest possible sense. He was on tip-toes and the only part of his body touching the Bench was his head! 8O

    Oh, and he was lowering the Bar to his NECK! :omg:

    I could'nt stop watching him. It was like a slow-motion car crash. :omfg:
  14. And what joy would you get if you said, "Look, in cross-section you are doing a dip....You've accidentally discovered that in a decline position you're a bit stronger. Just do weighted dips"?

    I'm enduring a tit who is cleaning half of fanny adams, but jumps into the air and stamps his heels on every rep. You feel like saying, "If it's attention you want just dye your hair green and give us peace".
  15. I was just glad the tw@t did'nt ask me to Spot him - I'd have slapped him, stripped the Plates and made him practice with the empy Bar! :roll: