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Difference Between Lifting for Strength and Size?


I hear this a lot now, but I'm not sure if I understand it, what's the difference between lifting for strength, and lifting for size?


Eating habits.


That's all there is to it. To get big, you have to get stronger and eat enough to support it. I am actually surprised there are so many GUYS lately who seem to want to avoid eating more to gain weight while only focusing on weight lifting.

You are limited in the strength you can gain if you never gain any more muscle mass to support even more strength.

In other words, can you get stronger without gaining much muscle mass at all? Yes. Can you get as strong as you could have had you eaten enough to gain even more muscle mass to support even more strength? No, you can't.


Like the new avatar!


Thank you.


I believe lifting at a lower rep range contributes much more to strength gains then size gains.


I always train with a lower rep range. My size has come as I got stronger and ate more. I don't even understand those who only lift with a significantly higher rep range unless the goal is more cardio contributing to more fat loss.


I've seen guys gain alot of muscle doing most of their training in the 8-12 rep range and I've seen guys gain alot of muscle doing most of their training in the 1-5 rep range...size gains can be achieved at both rep ranges given enough calories and rest in between workouts...

as far as strength goes...PEOPLE GET STRONG AT WHAT THEY DO...if you do most of your training in the 8-12 rep range you'll gain most of your strength in that range...and the same with the 1-5 rep range...

for instance, a world class 200 meter sprinter probably isn't going to have a world class 40 yard dash time...and conversely, someone that trains to have a world class 40 yard dash time is not going to be a world class 200 meter sprinter...

most of the training that a world class 200 meter sprinter does is in the 20 second range...while most of the training that a world class 40 yard dash sprinter does is in the 4-5 second range...

if you looked at both elite level sprinters they would probably have very similar physiques as far as the size of their muscles and body fat levels go...


But still you can't argue that a slightly higher range 7-12 reps for example is better for hypertrophy in normal cases (unless you are a fast twitch freak).


Yeah ya gotta eat. But, You need to train a little differently, too. Lower reps with heavier weight works. For myself, to help build overall power I toss in a few powerbuilder movements.


I do believe most consider "higher reps" to be more like 8-12 or 8-15, avoiding reps for only 2,3 or 4. It isn't a large difference, but significant none the less.

I have a lot of fast twitch muscle fibers. I can generate a lot of power but my endurance isn't the greatest. The goal should be to maximize strength and size in those who are into bodybuilding. Since fast twitch muscle fibers are the ones noted as being highest contributors to power and mass, it would make sense to focus on stimulating them. This is why I still don't understand why most would do higher reps aside from some muscle groups like legs which seem to respond better to a higher rep range. If your goal is size, why higher reps with less weight? Food intake will govern your growth.


Actually, I found that dropping the reps to 3-6 puts muscle on the fastest.


yes I can argue...

overall volume seems to more important than set/rep schemes...

for instance, when it comes to the big three lifts (squat, bench, deadlift)...
you can get just as much hypertrophy by doing 3x8 or 5x5 or 8x3 with short rest periods between sets...

you're not going to notice any hypertrophy differences with these set/rep schemes...it's the overall volume that's more important...

this approach doesn't seem to work with more isolation type exersizes (arm curls, tricep ext, ect...) possibly because most people can't use enough weight to properly stimulate the muscle without the exersize becoming dangerous...the classic 8-12 rep ranges are probably going to be more effective for those type of exersizes...


The difference is exemplified by comparing olympic lifters to body builders.
Olympic lifters sizable guys, lightening fast, strong almost beyond imagination.
Body builders are much bigger than olympic lifters - and that is all you can say. Their sport is size.
Oly lifters pursue explosive strength and their programs reflect that goal.
BB puruse size and their diet/set-rep/volume parameters reflect that goal.
Size equals strength is partly true. At some point that relationship gets too filled with variables and the statement becomes misleadng. Although, there is some truth in it.


I wouldn't add "partly true" after size equals strength. Unless someone contributes all of their size gains to drug use, it is pretty damn difficult to get significantly bigger without getting significantly stronger. I still have yet to meet someone who gained 50lbs of muscle but didn't get stronger to match it. I truly believe people make this way too complicated and I still don't understand why.

Train for strength, eat to grow and you will get bigger and stronger. Everything else is largely just talk. Worrying about comparing bodybuilders to Olympic lifters makes no sense because bodybuilders are not Olympic lifters and don't want to be.

There are huge strong football players that shouldn't be compared to Olympic lifters either. No one is walking around trying to make them look weaker every time the issue comes up. Why do bodybuilders get singled out?


This reminds me of that Ronnie Coleman deadlift video posted a while back. If you can find that, there will be no question left in your mind as to the size/strength relationship. The dude is big and strong.