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Hypertrophy First or Strength First?


#1

I'm still relatively new to lifting although I started last year and have workable technique for most lifts. I took the summer off and now I'm weak as hell again.

Should I pack on muscle before training for strength? Or the other way around?


#2

Dangles,
If you train hard and you eat well, you will get both strength increases AND hypertrophy regardless of specialization. They are not mutually exclusive and are in fact coextensive. No one gets really strong and stays at the same level of muscularity, and no one gets big off of benching 135.

SHORT VERSION: If a 5x5 program makes you happy do that. If a 5 day bodypart split works for you, do that. TECHNIQUE above all else.

It is really up to you, but you want to do something that keeps your enthusiasm levels up for going to the gym and allows you to continue to make quantifiable progress (lift numbers, bodyweight, etc). As you might have guessed, both of these are related as well. Consistency in both attendance and progress, especially at the beginner level, are more important than the specificities of training methods.

Sometimes people will say that you need to get your basic lifts up before you can really train efficiently for hypertrophy. I don't know how true that is, since a lot of people have gotten plenty big of off tweaking basic body part splits to address their individual needs.

More important probably than this distinction is that you train with proper technique, especially with larger compound movements such as the squat and the deadlift, or even the clean. I hardly ever see anyone do these exercises properly with a lot of weight, so you really want to emphasize doing the exercises correctly, above all else.


#3

Strength begats size and size begats strength.


#4

If you're a beginner, size will come as a part of the beginner gains.
You've gotta ask yourself what your goals are. Do you want to be the biggest mofo in town or the strongest? Both are great goals, it just depends on what you want.


#5

I mostly want functional strength, energy, and just to feel better (I'm an overworked college student and stress just destroys me). I was under the assumption that adding a bit of size serves as a good template for building strength.

I think the 5x5 is reasonable to do. A friend of min had me on Sheiko for about 2 months last year and I gained some strength through that (+30lb on bench, +40lb on bench, 30lb on dead). Didn't do too much for size though, but that wasn't the goal.

I feel like I should mention that I've been skinny my entire life despite my voracious appetite (I had absolutely no need to up my calories for lifting, but I did so anyways). I know the term "hard-gainer" is reserved for pussies and used as an excuse, but I don't know how else to describe myself. But despite all that, I know for a fact that strength can be added, so it's all good.


#6

I mostly want functional strength, energy, and just to feel better (I'm an overworked college student and stress just destroys me). I was under the assumption that adding a bit of size serves as a good template for building strength.

I think the 5x5 is reasonable to do. A friend of min had me on Sheiko for about 2 months last year and I gained some strength through that (+30lb on bench, +40lb on bench, 30lb on dead). Didn't do too much for size though, but that wasn't the goal.

I feel like I should mention that I've been skinny my entire life despite my voracious appetite (I had absolutely no need to up my calories for lifting, but I did so anyways). I know the term "hard-gainer" is reserved for pussies and used as an excuse, but I don't know how else to describe myself. But despite all that, I know for a fact that strength can be added, so it's all good.


#7

This logically doesn't make sense. How do you gain something designed for strength, without gaining strength? Go for the simple stuff here, if the numbers continually go up then you're gaining strength, if you're gaining strength then you will be adding more mass to your frame.

It's never really made sense to me why a certain exercises can make one gain more mass than strength, yet, result in overall less strength than another exercise. It's almost akin to buying a bigger engine but having less power than a smaller engine of same type.

I know about muscle facia stretching and all that malarkey , but I consider it a concept beyond anyone without a solid base. Nobody's ever gotten a huge chest if they exclusively did flyes rather than benching.


#8

Train for strength.


#9

This pretty much tells me that you have the need to up your calories for lifting. If you want to pack on mass, start eating. How much do you weigh right now? What is your diet like? Try eating 5-6 meals a day with 40 grams of protein a piece. Try not to eat carbs late in the day, unless it's a pw meal. Protein and carbs are your friends. Healthy fats in moderation too.

As a reference point, I used to be 150lbs in highschool and I thought i had a "fast metabolism." But really, the reason my weight stayed the same was because I was running 3 seasons of track and eating 3 meals a day. Very catabolic. You need to eat some food. More food = more mass. It's really that simple.

If it matters to you, I did powerlifting in my last year of college, and I am now continuing to do it in graduate school. I can attest to the stress relieving benefits of "strength oriented" training, especially because my senior year was quite stressful.


#10

I'm currently eating between 3500-4000 calories a day and I'm supplementing with these: Protein (Blend of Whey and Micellar Casein), Fish Oil, Multi-Vitamin, and Creatine.

It doesnt really add up that I've been putting on strength but no mass (I was ~150lb before I started lifting last year and now I'm still about 150lb. I've also noticed slightly bigger trapz and chest, but oddly enough, no mass gain.


#11

During my first year, I gained 30lbs of lean mass on a mostly 5x5 template. At the same time my bench/squat/dead went from 170/225/240 to 245/350/390 (pretty close, too lazy to go downstairs and look at my training log).

I know a lot of guys who train exclusively in the 8-10 rep range 'for size' and never get anywhere. I used to be one of them.

5x5 is one of the best templates to allow you to add more weight to the bar almost every session, at least for the duration of your newbie gains. Progressive overload will get you there. 'the pump', 'the burn', DOMS... not necessarily.


#12

That's a contradiction since mass = size.

If you've gained size, you've gained mass.


#13

Listen this^ no matter what... Do this^ for just one year or two, or more aand that's probably all what U can do right now. And please READ READ READ!


#14

Terms like "functional strength" make no sense. If you get stronger, you have more function. And especially for a beginner, getting bigger and stronger are the exact same thing. There is no need to over-think this.


#15

K, thanks for all the input guys. I think I'm gonna go with a 5x5 for a while and see how things go this year.


#16

I left one thing out. I use a RAMPED 5x5, not straight sets. And lift it like you mean it - every rep - I don't care if your max is 500lbs and you're only using 100, push it like it's 800.


#17

Eating more will allow you to get your muscles bigger regardless of your intention as long as significant progressive overload is occuring over a timeframe with circumstantial factors. Eg. Adding 100 pounds to your bench will enhance your chest muscularity with a calorie surplus better than any hypertrophic workout.


#18

Train for strength and eat for size. Take Dan John's maxim to heart: "you're an absolute beginner until you bench 1.5x bodyweight and deadlift 2x"


#19

Why did you take the summer off and why do you think people should help someone as undedicated as that?


#20

Strength. Nothing better than walking into the gym, setting up next to the biggest guy in the room and outsquatting him. :wink: