T Nation

Strength and Size


I know this is a little bit of a can of worms, but I want to discuss strength to weight ratio. I'm not making an argument about whether a lighter person is "stronger" than a heavier person if they lift the same weight. I'm just curious about how much strength you can gain while minimizing size gains. I do two sports where it's important to be light(er) and strong: cross-country and crew. How does one go about training purely for strength? I know it's impossible to get stronger and not get heavier, but is it possible to train/diet so that you can get the most for your size?


Yea if you got your diet dialed in. Hard to eat the same thing every day though. From experience, I know that it's really hard for me to gain strength without gaining at least a little weight to go with it. Maybe even impossible, I need that growth in muscle to support it. I also know that it is possible to loose fat while maintaining your strength or at least close to it, but you have to train really hard, and eat lots of protien and carbs. I think most big dudes will tell you that they gained the most size/strength when not worring so much about a little fat gain. Most of the people I see try to stay lean while they bulk always look the same.


I'd highly doubt you'd be able to do XC and powerlifting together and be even decent at either.


What is XC?


correct answer but

cross country running


Well I'm definitely not planning on being a good powerlifter, but the best runners always lift weights. As long as you don't gain too much weight it will only help you.


It's impossible to get stronger and not get heavier? News to me.

Just pick a handful of big movements, keep your reps per set and total volume very low, and eat the appropriate number of calories to support the bodyweight you want. You will get stronger without getting heavier. Simple.


Also if your running as much as I remember people running for xc it would be hard to gain weight at all.


So wait, are you saying that you want to compete in both cross country AND powerlifting, but are planning on sucking at powerlifting regardless, or are you saying you want to lift weights in order to be better at cross country?

People don't get that powerlifting doesn't mean just going to the gym and lifting weights. That's called going to the gym and lifting weights. Powerlifting is a sport in it's own right that you train for by lifting weights. If you aren't talking about actually competing in powerlifting, but rather using weight training to be better at another sport, then you're in the wrong forum. You would probably be better off asking your question in the conditioning subforum or on another message board with a higher population of endurance athletes, as you won't find many here.


Speaking from experience, pick a goal. You WILL NOT gain any appreciable strength if you are running consistently for cross country. I was in the gym 4 days a week at most on top of cross country practice to help with strength, and my 5RM for the Squat never got above 205. You'd need more time in the gym then that to get significantly stronger, and far less time running.

That being said, lifting weights will absolutely assist in your running, but you have to pick one or the other. You can either run as accessory to lifting (which isn't even optimal), or you can lift as an accessory to your running (which is definitely possible)..

Keep your upper body work to the basics: pullups, rows, DB bench, dips. Much more than that is unnecessary, as no one gives a shit how much you can bench when you're running. I always kept reps in the the 6-10 range, sets in 3-5 range. Lower body is up to you, but with any appreciable mileage, I was limited to squats, lunges, leg curls, and usually good mornings.

PM me if you have any more questions.


Gaining muscle size is based on a couple different factors. Diet being the least important. You can eat like shit and still get bigger and stronger if you lift hard but you if you eat perfect you wont gain muscle without training. Understand what I am getting at?

You just have to train smart. Think about how people lift to stimulate muscle growth. Moderate-Heavy weights with lots of volume. How do people lift (if they are doing it right) when they want to get stronger? Maximal wights with low volume. Keep your main lifts at 1, 2, or 3 heavy reps per set and you wont gain any size. Your muscle needs to be under tension for a certain amount of time (30-45seconds for most people) to gain size. If the weights are heavy and its taking a short time to do the sets, you wont gain weight.


StormTheBeach has got it.

I do Parkour, gymnastics, and acrobatics in addition to powerlifting, so being small is pretty crucial to my performance. But even at a bodyweight of 150, I'm racing to a 500lb pull. A hell of a lot of it is being on top of my diet and making sure that I'm not gaining much weight (if any). My lifts go up a lot slower, but it's a delicate balance of being able to lift heavy and perform well with my body.

Keep the volume low (it'll run you into the ground with 2-3 sports on top of heavy lifting, anyhow), master your diet, and you'll be fine.


Dude trust me, gaining pure strength isnt going to help your cross country running at all. Theyre too completely different things.


You are seriously going to confuse your muscles and energy systems. Your muscles, say quads for example are made up of endurance fibres type 1, strength fibres type 2b and type 2a fibres which are strength fibres which can be trained one way or the other. when running you'll be telling these fibres to exhibit endurance ability and then when training for strength you'll be asking them the opposite. Strength and endurance are opposite ends of the same continuum ie the closer you are to endurance the further you are from strength and vice versa. You have picked two conflicting activities and the best you can hope for is to be average at both and good at neither.


You sir are nuts!! no seriously that shit takes some serious skills! Got any vids?

Sorry to hijack but this thread is going by way of most on here..no where.

/ jacking...


I hear what you are saying but I doubt most people rarely get to a high level of any sport they do, meaning pro level or even semi pro if I may be so bold. I got lots of 'hobbies'. I mountain bike as well as 'powerlift'. I could honestly give two shits about being pro at either. They are hobbies. I mean I try my best and work like hell to beat my log book but in the end it is what it is. I'm pretty decent at both but I have fun doing them. My kids think I'm stronger than Superman. Those are the only opinions I give a shit about...


I'm not necessarily talking about competing at a high level. It holds true at all levels. Its called the law of specificity. I'm guilty of it too. I'm sure I would be much stronger now if I had just concentrated on the weights but I have always cycled and rowed as well because I never wanted to be one of those huge strong guys who gets puffed out walking from their car to the gym.

If flying dutchman does want to train with weights for injury prevention, joint stability etc I'm just saying he'd be better off training for strength endurance eg higher reps as it will have a better carry over for his cross country. And I thought my dad was strong when I was little now I realise he was a weed!


I've avoided the video thing for several years because I think it has done a lot to perpetuate misconceptions about what we do.. but you might find pictures and videos of myself in my gym if you like our Facebook thing: http://www.facebook.com/pages/Alexandria-VA/Urban-Evolution/126672417359540?v=app_2392950137&ref=ts#!/pages/Alexandria-VA/Urban-Evolution/126672417359540 Just look for the Asian guy.

I wanted to actually film a video this summer, but opening the gym pretty much took up all of my time.


Doesn't cross country only last like 2 months? Dude, just hit the weightroom 1 or 2 times a week to try and maintain whatever progress youve made so far, and hit the weights hard in the off season.

Even though powerlifting wont help you with XC at all, lol.