T Nation

Bulking vs Strength Gaining

Hey, I’ve recently taken up lifting in the hopes of becoming much stronger without gaining too much weight. I’m an athlete so I’d rather gain strength over size and train accordingly, but I’m curious as to how a diet for bulking would differ from a diet for just gaining strength while gaining little weight?

Eat more calories to gain weight=Bulk.
Eat calories to maintain weight and gain strength=what you want to do.

I is not possible to gain strength without gaining muscle mass. When you start training you will learn to use your CNS more effectively which will allow you to move more weight - but it doesn’t mean you are stronger.

Is your goal to train specifically for your sport or for all-around strength?

[quote]Stuyou wrote:
When you start training you will learn to use your CNS more effectively which will allow you to move more weight - but it doesn’t mean you are stronger.[/quote]

Hi, I’m the english language, have we met? Being able to lift more weight= stronger.

[quote]ninjaboy wrote:
Stuyou wrote:
When you start training you will learn to use your CNS more effectively which will allow you to move more weight - but it doesn’t mean you are stronger.
Hi, I’m the english language, have we met? Being able to lift more weight= stronger.[/quote]

Technically,you are correct. The point of my statement was that once you get past the beginning stages of lifting that involve learning to recruit your CNS more effectively, any gain in strength will be the result of increased muscle mass. I.e. you cannot get stronger without increasing muscle mass.

BTW - that whole “Hi I’m _______, have we met” thing was severely overused years ago. You might find a new way to express sarcasm.

[quote]Stuyou wrote:
ninjaboy wrote:
Stuyou wrote:
Technically,you are correct. The point of my statement was that once you get past the beginning stages of lifting that involve learning to recruit your CNS more effectively, any gain in strength will be the result of increased muscle mass. I.e. you cannot get stronger without increasing muscle mass. [/quote]

Yes, eventually he’ll hit a point where he’s not going to be able to gain strength without gaining muscle mass, but that point may be quite a ways off. It really depends on his starting point. Regardless, I’d love to know how you define strength if its not “Being able to lift more weight”.

[quote]ninjaboy wrote:
Yes, eventually he’ll hit a point where he’s not going to be able to gain strength without gaining muscle mass, but that point may be quite a ways off.

It really depends on his starting point. Regardless, I’d love to know how you define strength if its not “Being able to lift more weight”.
[/quote]

Are you serious???

You are completely missing the point of what I’m saying and latching on an interpretation of a statement I made. I said you are technically correct and now you want to argue about it?

Can’t you think of anything better to do?

I’ll take the bait…

Yes, strength is defined by being able to lift more weight. However, tapping into your current potential to lift said weight (better use of CNS, body position, pain threshold, etc.) may be interpreted by some as increased athleticism and not increased strength.

This is akin to saying a race car doesn’t have more horsepower just because the driver increased his skills. At the end of the day it doesn’t matter because he lifts more weight and the driver tracks faster laps.

The OP is asking if he has to “bulk” to gain strength. My answer, and I’ll try to make this more clear, is that (generally) in order to increase strength one has to increase muscle mass. What I didn’t say is that the OP does not have to “bulk” up to super hero size if that isn’t his goal.

Ninjaboy - I don’t know you and I have no issues with you. I’m not going to continue a pointless argument with you over such a minor issue.

I’m not trying to pick an argument just for argument’s sake; but I think your analogy is a bit flawed when it come to the CNS. It’s more like suddenly allowing the race car to run on all 12 cylinders instead of limiting it to 6.

Improved CNS functionality allows your body to recruit more muscle fibers for a given muscle contraction. The increased number of contracting fibers increases the amount of force produced by the muscle, ie, the muscle is stronger.

More muscle mass increase the total number of fibers in the muscle, allowing your body to recruit more muscle fibers for a given muscle contraction. My whole point is that contrary to your initial statement that strength cannot be gained without adding muscle mass, strength gains can occur independent of hypertrophy.

The amount may vary, and yes, a 90 lb weakling is going to need to add a good amount of muscle mass to achieve any decent amount of strength, but it shouldn’t be suprizing to anyone if an untrained individual adds 50-75% to his or her max lifts without seeing any real increase of lean body mass.

I’m really not trying to attack you personally, its just that there’s enough mis-information out there as is, and I’ve had a bit of a bad day, so I’m crankier then usual.

How experienced are you at lifting and what kind of athlete are you? It would also be helpful to know what kind of shape you’re in. Post your height, weight, and a few of your max lifts to give us some idea.

[quote]ninjaboy wrote:

More muscle mass increase the total number of fibers in the muscle, allowing your body to recruit more muscle fibers for a given muscle contraction. My whole point is that contrary to your initial statement that strength cannot be gained without adding muscle mass, strength gains can occur independent of hypertrophy.
[/quote]

Not just total number of fibers but also the size of the fibers, their cells, and organelles.

[quote]JayPierce wrote:
How experienced are you at lifting and what kind of athlete are you? It would also be helpful to know what kind of shape you’re in. Post your height, weight, and a few of your max lifts to give us some idea.[/quote]

I’m and I’ve only been lifting for about a month. I’m a sprinter but my school athletics season doesn’t start until the coming spring and they don’t do any off-season training with athletes.

Height: 5’5"
Weight: 132
Body fat: 9.3% (caliper tested)
Squat: 165x5
Deadlift: 195x5

[quote]Bloobird wrote:

Hey, I’ve recently taken up lifting in the hopes of becoming much stronger without gaining too much weight. I’m an athlete so I’d rather gain strength over size and train accordingly, but I’m curious as to how a diet for bulking would differ from a diet for just gaining strength while gaining little weight? +

I’m and I’ve only been lifting for about a month. I’m a sprinter but my school athletics season doesn’t start until the coming spring and they don’t do any off-season training with athletes.

=troll

Height: 5’5"
Weight: 132
Body fat: 9.3% (caliper tested)
Squat: 165x5
Deadlift: 195x5
[/quote] Seriously? 5’5" 132 and you are worried about gaining too much weight. I have an excellent program for you, it’s called the go F%&CK YOURSELF program. It’s simple. All you have to do is: 1) be happy with your totally ripped 132lb physique.
2) never post here again.

[quote]MC sp3 wrote:
Bloobird wrote:

Hey, I’ve recently taken up lifting in the hopes of becoming much stronger without gaining too much weight. I’m an athlete so I’d rather gain strength over size and train accordingly, but I’m curious as to how a diet for bulking would differ from a diet for just gaining strength while gaining little weight? +

I’m and I’ve only been lifting for about a month. I’m a sprinter but my school athletics season doesn’t start until the coming spring and they don’t do any off-season training with athletes.

=troll

Height: 5’5"
Weight: 132
Body fat: 9.3% (caliper tested)
Squat: 165x5
Deadlift: 195x5
Seriously? 5’5" 132 and you are worried about gaining too much weight. I have an excellent program for you, it’s called the go F%&CK YOURSELF program. It’s simple. All you have to do is: 1) be happy with your totally ripped 132lb physique.
2) never post here again.[/quote]

Dude, WTF is you problem? I’m not worried about gaining too much weight and I don’t care about my physique, as an athlete It’s better for me to stay lean than gain fat which I’ll have to cut. So I’d rather gain lean mass for a while.

I admit I’m skinny as fuck and do plan on putting on weight. I’ve actually already put on about 6 pounds this month and I look leaner than I did before so obviously as a newb I can gain lean body mass in the absence of fat.

I plan to gain as much lean body mass as I can until that’s no longer possible without having to micro manage every part of my diet and training, once I read that point I’ll gladly take fat to gain strength.

[quote]Bloobird wrote:
Dude, WTF is you problem? I’m not worried about gaining too much weight and I don’t care about my physique, as an athlete It’s better for me to stay lean than gain fat which I’ll have to cut. So I’d rather gain lean mass for a while.

I admit I’m skinny as fuck and do plan on putting on weight. I’ve actually already put on about 6 pounds this month and I look leaner than I did before so obviously as a newb I can gain lean body mass in the absence of fat.

I plan to gain as much lean body mass as I can until that’s no longer possible without having to micro manage every part of my diet and training, once I read that point I’ll gladly take fat to gain strength.

[/quote]
The fact that 90% of the new members post without reading the stickies is part of my problem. The fact that you contradicted yourself within your last post is also part of my “problem”.

You have a good base to start with, and it should be easy for you to add clean mass. You could probably get away with bulking for a couple of months, cutting for a couple months, and then easing back into sprinting before the season starts.

I’d say you could easily bring your weight up to 155-165 and same bf% by next spring.

Your diet should be simply: good food with plenty of protein. If you’re gaining too much fat, eat a little less. If you’re not progressing on your lifts, eat a little more.

It’s that easy. Good luck.

[quote]MC sp3 wrote:
Bloobird wrote:

Hey, I’ve recently taken up lifting in the hopes of becoming much stronger without gaining too much weight. I’m an athlete so I’d rather gain strength over size and train accordingly, but I’m curious as to how a diet for bulking would differ from a diet for just gaining strength while gaining little weight? +

I’m and I’ve only been lifting for about a month. I’m a sprinter but my school athletics season doesn’t start until the coming spring and they don’t do any off-season training with athletes.

=troll

Height: 5’5"
Weight: 132
Body fat: 9.3% (caliper tested)
Squat: 165x5
Deadlift: 195x5
Seriously? 5’5" 132 and you are worried about gaining too much weight. I have an excellent program for you, it’s called the go F%&CK YOURSELF program. It’s simple. All you have to do is: 1) be happy with your totally ripped 132lb physique.
2) never post here again.[/quote]

Why did you even post? To make yourself feel bigger? Did you get a good pump from typing that?

The beginners forum is precisely where you ask this sort of thing. Just go to one of the other ones if you don’t want to answer questions about the basics.

And now to answer the OP’s questions. If your goal is to gain strength while not being slowed down by too much muscle size gain the key is to keep your reps low in the various lifts. This will focus mostly on improving CNS efficiency rather than a lot of size gain.

As stolen from “Training for Newbies, Part 1”
2-3: strength with little size gain
4-5: strength and size gains, but more strength than size
6-8: strength and size gains, almost equally
9-12: strength and size gains, but more size than strength
13-15: size gains, and some muscle endurance gains
16-20: muscle endurance gains, and some size gains.

Thanks for your help guys. I’m keep diet the same as it is, and I’ll adjust as I go, I’m currently getting between 2700-3000 calories a day, with about 225 grams of protein per day.

As for my routine I’m doing the Texas Method with some accessory work for the p-chain, RDL/Good Morning/Natural GHR all within the 4-6 rep range.

Check out Starting Strength. It’s a great program when you’re just starting out.