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Gaining Strength Without Size

Right now I am about 71-72kg (156-158lbs) and I am planning on making 63kg next year for wrestling, this of course is not going to be easy but im going to come out shredded and make weight. Regardless right now im trying to put on as much strength I can without making anymore gain in weight as I don’t want to move up a weightclass.

Right now I am training 3-4times a week with workouts usually consisting of 2 “big movements” (Bench, Power Cleans, Deadlifts, Squats, Snatch, Deadlift, Leg Press)

  • one other for 4-5sets of 6-8reps. Would this be a smart way to go about it? Im starting to think that even the reps may be a little high and i should stick to 6.

I hate to say it, but if you’re planning on losing 10-15 lbs, chances are you’re going to lose strength. Strength is ultimately limited by muscle size. I think that if you stay in the same class, and try to improve body-composition slowly, while gaining strength, that might be a better plan.

You have two full seasons to (summer, fall) to train. This is more than enough time to put on a couple pounds of muscle and lose a bit of fat. This will also lead to much greater strength gains than if you were to lose weight.

At 6-8 reps you’re training in what is considered a “functional hypertrophy” range. Traditionally 3-5 reps (and lower) are used for training strength. This is just a general guideline, and doesn’t really apply for cleans and snatches. To get a good idea of rep ranges for those lifts try using Prilepin’s chart: http://www.angelfire.com/pe/txpls/prilephin.html

As far as exercise selection goes, you’re doing pretty well. I would probably drop leg press, as squatting is a lot more effective for strength gain. You might also want to add in pull-ups, or some kind of row, and perhaps some different pressing motions once in a while.

Try reading Dan John’s article about 5x5, this is a good rep scheme for strength.
http://www.T-Nation.com/readTopic.do?id=627517

Also, make sure your diet is good. Try reading John Berardi’s stuff. Assuming that you’re lifting and also running, jump roping, whatever, to keep in shape, you’ll need to be eating a lot. As far as body composition goes, diet will make or break you; if you didn’t need to make weight a “see food” diet would work best for strength.

Hi there-check out the Waterbury set rep bible-the guidlines in short for these paramters:

frequency per group: 2-4x the week:

for mass only:
36-50 reps/set
(means 6x6 5x10 2x12 5x8 etc.)
rest between 1-2minutes
do this parameter for only ONE exercise per group per session
70-80% 1rpm.

for mass and strength
24-36 reps
(like 10x5 5x5…)
rest:1.15-3 minutes
80-90%1rpm

for strength only:
9-15 reps
(like 3x3 7x2 9x1)
rest: 3 minutes
more then 90% of 1rpm

FEX:
Chest workout for mass for 3 times a week:

1.session bench press:
4x10

2.session: decline dumbbell:
2x15

3,session: incline dumbbell:
6x6

The more different the paramters and exercises for the gruop the week,the longer you will make gains!

suxess science

[quote]andy bumphren wrote:
I hate to say it, but if you’re planning on losing 10-15 lbs, chances are you’re going to lose strength. Strength is ultimately limited by muscle size. I think that if you stay in the same class, and try to improve body-composition slowly, while gaining strength, that might be a better plan.

You have two full seasons to (summer, fall) to train. This is more than enough time to put on a couple pounds of muscle and lose a bit of fat. This will also lead to much greater strength gains than if you were to lose weight.

At 6-8 reps you’re training in what is considered a “functional hypertrophy” range. Traditionally 3-5 reps (and lower) are used for training strength. This is just a general guideline, and doesn’t really apply for cleans and snatches. To get a good idea of rep ranges for those lifts try using Prilepin’s chart:
http://www.angelfire.com/pe/txpls/prilephin.html

As far as exercise selection goes, you’re doing pretty well. I would probably drop leg press, as squatting is a lot more effective for strength gain. You might also want to add in pull-ups, or some kind of row, and perhaps some different pressing motions once in a while.

Try reading Dan John’s article about 5x5, this is a good rep scheme for strength.
http://www.T-Nation.com/readTopic.do?id=627517

Also, make sure your diet is good. Try reading John Berardi’s stuff. Assuming that you’re lifting and also running, jump roping, whatever, to keep in shape, you’ll need to be eating a lot. As far as body composition goes, diet will make or break you; if you didn’t need to make weight a “see food” diet would work best for strength.[/quote]

You forget that on this site, many of these people actually believe that muscle size has NOTHING to do with strength.

I’m pretty sure no one is going to forget, not with you making the same comment in nearly every thread that discusses size and strength. On the other hand, I hear that beating dead horses is great for hypertrophy…

[quote]vermilion wrote:
I’m pretty sure no one is going to forget, not with you making the same comment in nearly every thread that discusses size and strength. On the other hand, I hear that beating dead horses is great for hypertrophy…[/quote]

It also does a great job of making fun of those who continue to push that idea. If it didn’t need to be said at all, it wouldn’t keep popping up in one form or the other.

Well weighing roughly 156, and the class is 141. I figure once I get into season, drop the calories a bit and still keep my diet in good shape ill be able to lose most of the weight from losing fat. Of course this is barring a lot of hardwork and busting ass but I am sure I can do it. The rest of the weight would be waterweight.

I am looking at it this way, right now im 5’8 156lbs with about 13-14%
I can bust my ass and get down to about 5’8 148lbs by dropping a resonable amount of fat in a few months and then the rest would be a cakewalk as far as making weight. I just wanted to see what would be best for not putting on a lot of weight in the meantime.

Rookie21, please post some pics when you make the weight. I’m the same height as you and I have never weighed less than 150lbs, even when I was ~8% BF and at my scrawniest, age 18. I can’t imagine what this weight would look like.

Best of luck, mate!

I covered some common relative strength myths here:

http://www.T-Nation.com/readTopic.do?id=718924

Also, I go into quite a bit of detail on training for athletes in your situation in my new off-season training manual. You can read more about it at:

http://www.T-Nation.com/readTopic.do?id=1139080

Good luck!

This is a bit of a hijack, but I have a question for Eric on part of his relative strength article:

“A simple way to ensure that you’re adding functional mass is to test your vertical jump every two weeks. If it’s going up or staying the same as you gain weight, you’re doing well. If not, you’re likely adding weight too quickly or your training isn’t appropriate.”

Is this related to the strength deficit talked about in supertraining?

If so, is this a method you would use once you’ve indicated (using the strength deficit) that you need to focus on hypertrophy? Or is it a method that can be used interchangelby?

Also, if you use it, what do you feel is a low strength deficit (in inches or percent of vertical)?

[quote]andy bumphren wrote:
I hate to say it, but if you’re planning on losing 10-15 lbs, chances are you’re going to lose strength. Strength is ultimately limited by muscle size. I think that if you stay in the same class, and try to improve body-composition slowly, while gaining strength, that might be a better plan.

You have two full seasons to (summer, fall) to train. This is more than enough time to put on a couple pounds of muscle and lose a bit of fat. This will also lead to much greater strength gains than if you were to lose weight.

At 6-8 reps you’re training in what is considered a “functional hypertrophy” range. Traditionally 3-5 reps (and lower) are used for training strength. This is just a general guideline, and doesn’t really apply for cleans and snatches. To get a good idea of rep ranges for those lifts try using Prilepin’s chart: http://www.angelfire.com/pe/txpls/prilephin.html

As far as exercise selection goes, you’re doing pretty well. I would probably drop leg press, as squatting is a lot more effective for strength gain. You might also want to add in pull-ups, or some kind of row, and perhaps some different pressing motions once in a while.

Try reading Dan John’s article about 5x5, this is a good rep scheme for strength.
http://www.T-Nation.com/readTopic.do?id=627517

Also, make sure your diet is good. Try reading John Berardi’s stuff. Assuming that you’re lifting and also running, jump roping, whatever, to keep in shape, you’ll need to be eating a lot. As far as body composition goes, diet will make or break you; if you didn’t need to make weight a “see food” diet would work best for strength.[/quote]

Hi Andy,

You’re certainly right about absolute strength being limited by lean mass, but since Rookie specifically asked about how to gain relative strength (absolute strength in relation to weight) I don’t really think that bringing up that point has much relevance.

Everyone has their ideal weight where they are strongest relative to their weight. Many many wrestlers and Mixed Martial Artists will try to enter as light a weight class as possible, as the general theory is that this will allow them to be as strong pound for pound as possible.

Also, we can’t necessarily say that losing 10-15 lbs is automatically going to cause him to lose strength. If he lost 10-15 lbs of muscle, then yes, his absolute strength would surely go down. But, if he lost 10-15 lbs of fat, then he may not experience any strength loss at all.

Realistically of course he would probably lose both fat and muscle, although if he did it slowly he should be able to lose more fat than muscle.

Rookie,

Definetely pay attention to what has been said concerning rep schemes. 6-8 reps is not ideal for developing maximal strength, which is what you should be focusing on.

I’d suggest you check out Poloquin’s articles, as many of them deal with maximal strength building routines. I’ve used his “1-6 principle” with good success myself.

Good luck and good training,

Sentoguy

Thanx a lot sento, and everyone else as well. I’ve actually just started the 6-8reps and thought it would be a good change to try it for a few weeks as i’ve just finished doing a 5x5 scheme for a while.

[quote]Eric Cressey wrote:
I covered some common relative strength myths here:

http://www.T-Nation.com/readTopic.do?id=718924

Also, I go into quite a bit of detail on training for athletes in your situation in my new off-season training manual. You can read more about it at:

http://www.T-Nation.com/readTopic.do?id=1139080

Good luck! [/quote]

Definitely read these links and listen to this man. It is his job, and he has helped many athletes on these forums and elsewhere.

You might want to try an approach similar to the Westside Template, but modified to suit your relative strength needs. Stick with 2 max effort and 2 dynamic effort days.

For max effort (ME) do sets of 1-5 on your big exercise for strength and on the dynamic effort (DE) day you could do the standard 8 x 3 for bench and 10 x 2 for box squat, or you could do a scheme where you do the max reps you can get in 10 seconds (at most) with 30-75% of your 1RM for 3-6 sets.

Now, normally Westside would call for repetitive effort (RE) lifts for size and strength after your main ME or DE movement, but this is where it would change.

I’d say, do bodyweight exercises for endurance like you would during wrestling practice (push-ups, pull-ups, etc.). That way you can build strength, speed, and endurance wihout building size.

[quote]Sentoguy wrote:
Hi Andy,

You’re certainly right about absolute strength being limited by lean mass, but since Rookie specifically asked about how to gain relative strength (absolute strength in relation to weight) I don’t really think that bringing up that point has much relevance.

Everyone has their ideal weight where they are strongest relative to their weight. Many many wrestlers and Mixed Martial Artists will try to enter as light a weight class as possible, as the general theory is that this will allow them to be as strong pound for pound as possible.

Also, we can’t necessarily say that losing 10-15 lbs is automatically going to cause him to lose strength. If he lost 10-15 lbs of muscle, then yes, his absolute strength would surely go down. But, if he lost 10-15 lbs of fat, then he may not experience any strength loss at all.

Realistically of course he would probably lose both fat and muscle, although if he did it slowly he should be able to lose more fat than muscle.

Sentoguy[/quote]

Losing 10-15lbs period will automatically decrease strength in someone who’s body fat is reasonable. You would think otherwise if it is pure fat he loses, but just the loss in leverage hurts your strength.

True this isn’t what he was asking for, but the move doesn’t seem logical to me. He’s not too experienced, and he’s trying to do something very difficult; essentially he’s trying to gain strength while impeding his ability to get stronger.

I think he’ll see the most significant strenght gains by keeping his weight, and improving his body composition. If he absolutely has to be in a lower weight class… then good luck and try to find some one to help you train. Preferable some one who’s done what you’re trying to do before so that you can get it done right the first time.

Hi Andy,

Well, like I said, if the weight is from lean mass, then yes, there will be a loss in absolute strength. But, if the weight loss comes from decreased adipose tissue, then he may not lose any strength at all. The amount of leverage lost from such a small amount of weight wouldn’t really make that much difference in terms of absolute strength.

At Rookie’s current weight and body fat percentage, 20 to 21 lbs of his bodyweight is adipose tissue. If he lost 9% of his body fat (which would still leave him with approximately 5%) he would lose 14 lbs. That is exactly what he is trying to do.

Besides, even if he didn’t lose all 14 lbs from fat, he could still lose a good amount of that weight from fat, and then (as he suggested) lose the rest from water weight.

Good training,

Sentoguy