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155 Pounds, 800 Total. Focus on Hypertrophy or Strength?


I recently got into PL and ran distance for 8 years prior. I’m 155 pounds walking around and currently trying to bulk. I love squatting so its not bad but my bench is trash, DL is okay.
Best gym lifts: Squat: 365, BP: 165, DL: 315.
Did the DL a few days ago, haven’t done it in over a year. The kicker is I’m 6’0 with equal wingspan. I am very very skinny but have an 800+ total right now and gaining weight is really hard. I know there’s basically no such thing as a 6’ 74kg in PL, so my question is whether I should just set strength work aside and just focus on hypertrophy to get to a more appropriate weight or slowly let my weight go up with low rep strength work?

My only experience with gaining mass is gaining about 8 pounds in the last 8 weeks with basically no noticeable fat, hitting a plateau though with food intake. My history with strength work was doing smolov while on maintenance calories and after track practices which had 5+ miles of cardio daily. That took my squat from 275 to 335 in 10 weeks at 145lbs.

Thanks for any advice you’ve got.


as a beginner, strength and hypertrophy will largely go hand in hand. You should pick a proven program that was written by someone knowledgeable in powerlifting. I HIGHLY recommend 5/3/1, and I highly recommend buying Wendlers e-books, not just reading articles about it. It’s not expensive and could be life changing, well worth the cash. 5/3/1 has you working in both higher and lower rep ranges on a variety of very effective lifts. If you eat enough, you will grow in bodyweight, and you will get stronger.

The other half of this is eating. When I started lifting, I was 5’10, and weighed 57 kg. It was very hard for me to adjust to eating enough. I felt like I was eating EVERYTHING and not gaining weight. But at the end of the day, this is what it takes. I’m about 88 kg now. It took me years to accomplish this, but because it took so long, I stayed lean throughout the process. Over time, you will have to continually eat more and more. That’s what this life is about. If weight gain stalls, that will ALWAYS be the answer. You have to trust that. I had to eat through discomfort a lot. I still do anytime I want to start putting on more weight. Just trust the process.


Thanks so much. I will definitely check out those e-books.

Also, I’m 19 now, think I have a chance to have decent lifts?


The first question is what your priority is. You mention track practice and running 5+ miles a day, if you are caught between two sports with conflicting objectives and needs then you are unlikely to get far in either. I suggest choosing one and focusing your training on improving performance in that one sport. Nobody says you need to be a powerlifter, if that is what you want to do then it will require sacrifice and dedication.

If you choose powerlifting then definitely focus on hypertrophy. Getting stronger in higher rep ranges will get you stronger overall while increasing muscle mass. You don’t need to be peaked for max lifts unless you are doing a meet, if your 8rm or 10rm goes up then so will your 1rm when it’s time for that. Cardio is not necessary if the goal is to increase muscle mass for powerlifting, and too much will slow down your progress. Most powerlifters your height are well over 200lbs, whether you want to gain that much weight is another thing for you to consider.

If you have trouble gaining weight it’s because you don’t eat enough and do too much cardio. Choose foods with high caloric density. Don’t eat garbage, but the concept of “eating clean” should not cross your mind anytime soon.


You have plenty of time.


of course. I Just told you the progress I made. I was 18 years old when I started, and much smaller than you.

Let me ask you this.

Would I have wrote everything I wrote, given you that advice, and asked you to trust the process if I thought you did not have a chance to have decent lifts?

You can have more than decent lifts. When I started lifting, I could not bench an empty bar without shaking. My max was about 30kg. A couple years ago I benched 180kg.