T Nation

Strenght vs Volume

Hello all. I’ve been training for a few years (3-4) and in this time my exp has come in the form of many doubts for the most. I trained mostly for strenght than volume, low set-rep range with high loads, periodization, etc as in some Pavel Tsatouline’s books. For the most it’s been deadlifts, military presses, bench presses, pull-ups and ab work.

All of this worked to get me stronger without much added volume (I must clear thought that I’m a lightweight, 132 lbs, so my numbers are far for impressive) but over this period of time some things caught me off guard. Over the past few years I found myself Arm wrestling more often than not and I was surprised to see myself struggling with people who do little to no training at all. Yes, heavier oponent yet my numbers on any lift were and keep to be higher.

After this experiences I started to question myself about my training and the pursue of “strenght and not size” as it would seem the bigger person would always have the advantage no matter all the training I put into it. Many could say such an event requires more skill than it is comnonly believed but this is just an example that translates to overall strenght for daily use where my higher numbers on lifting seem to be useless. Is it the weight disadvantage? The specific strenght and skill required for a given task? Or just a bad training approach?

Arm wrestling is a sport in itself, you need to practise to get good at it; however, bodyweight does help (upper body overal mass, more specifically).

Also, how strong are you? As a lightweight, you should be able to bench x2 bw and squat x2.5 or more to qualify as decently strong.

Have you considered getting heavier?

I feel your pain man, i am currently 190. 10 years ago when i started lifting i was 132. So i can give you some insight. You need to efficient in the gym and at the table. I would highly recoment a program like 5/3/1 for you. Use the boring but big template. Youneed to be doing squats at LEAST twice if not three times a week.

Dont get caught up in the whole i wanna get big but lean also crap. Eat whatever and whenver you cam. Im talking 5000-6000 calories a day on top of 300-400 grams of protein. The first thing you need to do of find out what your goal is? You cannot serve two masters. It has taken me 10 years to add 70 lbs. every day, every week, every month, every year. You need to be disiplined to eat. I would also look into some creatine mono and a good whey. Keep you head up and your belly full brother.

I’m a little confused.

Do you mean hypertrophy when you are saying volume? They are different things.

Training for strength does not necessarily mean low volume.

Maybe it’s time to gain some weight if you want to be stronger? A bigger muscle is a stronger muscle; plain and simple.

Also, this is not powerlifting related.

eat eat eat eat eat eat eat eat eat eat eat eat eat eat eat

I know this isn’t powerlifting in essence but I since thats how I train I didn´t know where else to post this.

I know arm wrestling is a sport itself and also requires skill. I just never ceases to amaze me how someone with no training (nor gym nor arm wrestiling) could give me some much troubles and some even beat me, this is what makes me think I need to go for more mass and forget about the “skinny and strong” mindset.

Answering fabiop I currently Bench 250 lbs and SQ 355 lbs and DL a little more. This without any gear or equipment, I´m aware this are no big numbers but taking into account that Im talking about facing guys about 200 lbs BW with no training on any area and mostly fat with little muscle, it just dazzles me.
I got in the gym as a teenager who wanted to avoid bullying and the like but in the end I found more than just than in the weightroom, still with that teen inside I’m kind of worried all this training doesn’t translate to any other event (mostly fighting and wrestling as you may never know when you´ll need to put that training to use)

Much can be said by putting on mass. Ed Coan, though putting outrageous bw/lift ratios at lighter weight classes, was still stronger with more mass on his body. Some big guys are strong just because they are big, they have improved leverages regardless of whether it is fat or muscle.

[quote]Salpinx wrote:
I know this isn’t powerlifting in essence but I since thats how I train I didn´t know where else to post this.

I know arm wrestling is a sport itself and also requires skill. I just never ceases to amaze me how someone with no training (nor gym nor arm wrestiling) could give me some much troubles and some even beat me, this is what makes me think I need to go for more mass and forget about the “skinny and strong” mindset.[/quote]
Most definitely!

More than decent gym lifts in term of relative strength, but “real life” strength heavily relies on bodyweight too, as you are experiencing.

Don’t get caught in the “functional vs non-functional” bullshit: a really big guy will always be quite strong, and a really strong guy will likely be more than average built.

Start eating more, add some volume in your training (volume = sets x reps); I’d go with the “Boring But Big Challenge” version of 5/3/1.

I, and many others who have trained with such main lifts only kind of methods, have found that people who train bodybuilding style come up trumps in the arm department. Just add on some sets of rows and bicep isolation in addition to what you’re doing if this is important to you.
Secondly, as others have said, weight will increase your strength in absolute terms; specific strength training works mainly in increasing neural efficiency and movement pattern skill, particularly if you do not eat enough to gain weight.

Finally, low rep strength training is great, but adding volume in terms of extra sets is necessary to really stimulate growth - and these extra sets can further strength gains through extra practise too! 10x3 is a great example of this. There’s no need to use high rep methods if you don’t want to, you can still add volume.

I kind of had the idea to add volume and you’ve convinced me. I’ll try to qualify for the big guys league, over time of course, it’s not like I´m expecting to gain 70 lbs in the course of a few months.

Pavel said on one of his books “During war sleep depravation and low calory intake quickly burn out mass” but since I don´t plan to join the army (lol) I´ll definitely add more volume to my training for growth stimulation. The 5/3/1 seems like a good choice, hoping to see some results.
Thanks for answers!

[quote]MarneSoldier wrote:
I feel your pain man, i am currently 190. 10 years ago when i started lifting i was 132. So i can give you some insight. You need to efficient in the gym and at the table. I would highly recoment a program like 5/3/1 for you. Use the boring but big template. Youneed to be doing squats at LEAST twice if not three times a week.

Dont get caught up in the whole i wanna get big but lean also crap. Eat whatever and whenver you cam. Im talking 5000-6000 calories a day on top of 300-400 grams of protein. The first thing you need to do of find out what your goal is? You cannot serve two masters. It has taken me 10 years to add 70 lbs. every day, every week, every month, every year. You need to be disiplined to eat. I would also look into some creatine mono and a good whey. Keep you head up and your belly full brother.[/quote]

I’m putting together that u live in Marne mi? I’m in spring lake ha, if so where do u train?
O.P I remember going thru the same situation with the arm wrestling actually. Volume here and there always adds strength and breaks plateaus for me.

Seems to be that way, arm size appears to have big influence on it. It’s true that a big guy will always be strong , but how many times have we seen a big guy who ashamed the heavyweights? Also there are small guys that impress with their strenght, which probably led me to thinking one could train without hypertrophy in mind and become stunningly strong. You know like when you shake hands and the other person gets impressed by your grip and you never put any effort into it. Maybe thats only for the heavy or very limited lightweights.

[quote]quiksilver6 wrote:

[quote]MarneSoldier wrote:
I feel your pain man, i am currently 190. 10 years ago when i started lifting i was 132. So i can give you some insight. You need to efficient in the gym and at the table. I would highly recoment a program like 5/3/1 for you. Use the boring but big template. Youneed to be doing squats at LEAST twice if not three times a week.

Dont get caught up in the whole i wanna get big but lean also crap. Eat whatever and whenver you cam. Im talking 5000-6000 calories a day on top of 300-400 grams of protein. The first thing you need to do of find out what your goal is? You cannot serve two masters. It has taken me 10 years to add 70 lbs. every day, every week, every month, every year. You need to be disiplined to eat. I would also look into some creatine mono and a good whey. Keep you head up and your belly full brother.[/quote]

I’m putting together that u live in Marne mi? I’m in spring lake ha, if so where do u train?
O.P I remember going thru the same situation with the arm wrestling actually. Volume here and there always adds strength and breaks plateaus for me. [/quote]

Quick, i am originally from Bay City. I use the handle Marnesoldier because of the unit i was assigned to during my two tours in Iraq the 3rd infantry division nicknames the Marne division for tjhe battle of the Marne. I am assigned to fort bragg nc and i train in my garage. I do know where spring lake is though. There alot of powerlifting gyms in michigan though. I have a buddy of mine in ann arbor he is a sponsered member over at elitfts if you are willing to drive he is always looking for spotters. It may be a good way to start low on the totem pole and work your way up.