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Building Strength Without Gaining Weight?

Hey guys. I was wondering how you guys build strength without gaining weight. Is it really possible in the long run? I just finished a long cut (I stopped it before getting very lean because I had lost too much strength) and started bulking. I gained about 2kg in around 4 weeks and added about 15kg to my squat, which was great.

But then I stopped the bulking diet and started maintaining for the festive period and all my lifts seemed to stall, and my squat and bench regressed slightly by a rep or two. I’m following this program


which I know is a high quality program that can deliver results.

But would you say that trying to build strength while not eating enough to gain weight is a waste of time?

I went from 180 lbs. with a 1050-lb. three-lift total to ~155 lbs. (148-lb. weight class powerlifter) with a 1395-lb. three-lift total in a span of about three years. So yes, it is really possible.

A lot of people have success using Sheiko (or P’s chart inspired) programs and maintaining weight. Give them a try. You still have to be eating and sleeping enough to recover, so don’t skimp on that.

Why don’t you want to gain weight?

Strength is a function of neuromuscular efficiency. All things being equal, a larger muscle has potential to generate more force. The thing is, you will most likely never max out your neuromuscular efficiency. So, just stay at your weight if you want and work your ass off for a really really long time. Or gain weight and work your ass off for a really really long time. Or lose weight and work your ass off for a really really long time.

Old article, but a very good read from Cressey on this subject.

[quote]KyleKeough wrote:
I went from 180 lbs. with a 1050-lb. three-lift total to ~155 lbs. (148-lb. weight class powerlifter) with a 1395-lb. three-lift total in a span of about three years. So yes, it is really possible.[/quote]

That’s excellent. While I was cutting, I didn’t see any strength increases and so I really see what you did as an incredible achievement. Did you use pure PL style programs e.g. Sheiko to get these results?

[quote]DaveForner wrote:
A lot of people have success using Sheiko (or P’s chart inspired) programs and maintaining weight. Give them a try. You still have to be eating and sleeping enough to recover, so don’t skimp on that.

Why don’t you want to gain weight?[/quote]

For now, I will still gain weight; I was just taking a small break from the bulk during the festive period. But when I eventually decide to stop bulking, I feel like I’ll be stuck again. For now, I’ll keep bulking doggedly and enjoy the strength gains.

[quote]IronAbrams wrote:
Old article, but a very good read from Cressey on this subject.

[/quote]

Thanks. That was a nice article. It confirmed what I thought: if you want to improve relative strength, that doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t gain any weight.

In this article

Kelly explains this

So maybe I should accept that strength gains will be very hard to come by for me without adding size.

Deadman, I did run a powerlifting-centered program, but it wasn’t anything nearly as volume-heavy as Sheiko. Running a volume-heavy program while manipulating macro ratios is going to be difficult; reducing volume and increasing intensity will make strength maintenance–and even strength gains–a little easier. Over time, as my weight has stabilized and I’ve gotten used to training at a lower body-fat percentage, I’ve been able to increase volume and frequency and get incrementally stronger.

Listen: very, very few among us need to gain weight in order to gain strength. Eating at maintenance or even at a slight deficit is going to make gaining strength more difficult, but it’s not impossible. Most of us are at a low enough level strength-wise that we don’t ‘need’ to get bigger and eat a surplus to get stronger. You might just need to tinker with your programming or train a little harder. You’re not going to get stuck when you stop bulking unless you’re weak-willed; if you really want to continue making progress, you’ll find a way.

Don’t let the Keough fool you. Not only does he use strictly Westside, and the only reason he is so lean is all of the money he spends on his monthly clen bill.

As someone who stayed around 165-170 and gained 90lbs on my squat in a year doing so to get a 3x bw squat, I can tell you it is NOT just about training your nervous system and avoiding hypertrophy.

What it is, and what you will realize, is that you can lose A LOT of bodyfat. I was always a track athlete, and low BF, but I kept getting stronger and stronger, and my muscles did get bigger, staying the same weight. Because I just realized that losing a little bodyfat and gaining real lean muscle is a slow, but rewarding process that many powerlifters forget to prioritize.

To say it simply, if you are a powerlifter under 180lbs and you DONT have a 6 pack, you have an insane amount of room to grow in terms of pound for pound strength