T Nation

Strength or Size?


If you had to pick just one, and the opposite of the other, which would it be?

What I mean is, would you rather be incredibly strong at a puny body weight and size, or would you rather be huge (the size of your all time favorite body builder), but weak as hell?

I know these extremes aren't going to happen, as anyone who gets extremely strong or extremely huge will get some effects of the other.

My question stems around my own personal problem. 3 years ago I was 148lbs and my strength numbers were fairly impressive for being raw at my weight (335lb bench, 415 squat, 425 dead).

Now I'm 15-20lbs heavier and feel and look more muscular overall, but I'm obviously a little fatter (around 12%) and my strength numbers are actually a little lower in squat and deads, about the same with bench.

I got hooked on Chad Waterbury's programs with the extra mass and strength I've put on in a fairly short period of time (I lost a lot of the strength I had about 2 years ago and have gotten most of it back recently).

The problem is, as I get ready to compete again for the first time in 3 years, I don't know if I should try to go for the strongest I can be, lb for lb, or gain much needed mass with strength, but sacrifice lb for lb strength.

I'm just curious as to what you all would choose given the above situation. I know ultimately it will come down to my own personal goals, but I'd like to see what the average T-Nation member would choose.


strength. i'm already set as far as the female thing goes, so i'd choose to be inhumanly strong.


Definately strength. I think size is useless if you can't back it up, and I know I respect the few strong skinny bastards I know. I believe this has been discussed before in the polls section too, but I might be wrong (if you wanted some extra imput).


I don't understand how you gained muscle but lost strength. That makes no sense to me at all. I would look intensely at your training program because that is not normal. I have never had this happen to me. By getting stronger, I have gained muscle mass. I don't understand those of you who see this as an either or situation.


At 5'7" and anywhere from 195-206 lbs,I'm as big as I care to get.

What I want now is power. Explosive, brute power.


I didn't want to make the original post too long and vear away from the subject too much.

3 years ago was when I was at my best lb for lb. Shortly after, I got married, had a baby, got very lazy and stopped working out, while pigging out on all the wrong stuff.

I lost a lot of muscle and ballooned to 180lbs, and around 24-25%bf (and much weaker than when I was at 148lbs).

I got so sick of myself about a year and a half ago and got back into working out and eating better, but I'm still learning and had a bad (lazy) winter since, where a lot of my work in the last year and a half was lost.

All in all, I've been most consistant the past 6 months or so. Coming from 180 and weak as hell to 165 and almost as strong as I was at my best.

When I was 148, I was using mostly my 4RM in just about everything I did, and was also riding an elliptical machine for 45 minutes a day, 3 to 4 days a week and also competed in 5K runs in 21-22 minutes.

Now I'm finding that I shouldn't have been doing so much cardio (the 45 minutes was at a high heart rate the whole time).

At the time that I was at my best, I was on a tiny island called Diego Garcia, while in the Navy and had tons of time to work out. I was also using Creatine, a Whey protein powder, a vit/min supp., and an ECA stack.

Okay, I think that fills in the blanks pretty well. I was also always fat as a kid and have never come close to where I was before the 3 years ago when I was at my best. That was also the first time I've ever seen my abs, and now I can see a '4 pack', wich would be the second time ever seeing my abs (though not as much as before).

Sorry for not giving the whole story, but I thought the post would be too long.


How tall are you that you could "balloon" up to 180lbs at over 24% body fat?


5'5", plus I lost a lot of muscle that I had at 148 (if one could ever have a 'lot' of muscle at that weight).

My chest actually got smaller, but with bitch titties and my waiste was around 42".

I know I lost some muscle, so that's a gain of OVER 32lbs of fat. I'm guessing a loss of about 10lbs (or so) of muscle, which would be a 42ish lb gain of fat.

Then again the muscle loss is not even an educated guess, but my strength and arm, chest and shoulder size went down considerably.

Either way, even though I was a fat ass as a kid, this point in my life (about a year and a half ago) was the fattest and most out of shape I've ever been.


In other words, you did NOT gain muscle and lose strength, you lost muscle and gained fat.


In the last 6 months compared to the last year and a half, I lost most of the fat I gained and gained most of my strength back.

But yes, you're right, now compared to where I was 3 years ago I did gain fat, but I also gained muscle and as far as squat and deadlifts are concerned, I lost strength, but only by about 5-10lbs each.

I did gain muscle overall in my upper back, shoulders and legs and by the mirror I look more muscular at 165 with a 34" waist than when I was 148 with a 30" waist.

This can be due to my CNS not being worked as hard, my muscles being more used to higher reps or simply my maxes not being as accurate. Either way my strength is overall, only slightly lower than my best, but I weigh 17lbs more, with some extra muscle and some extra fat, overall.

I still feel I would like to be more muscular and massive overall, but I miss the high I'd get when winning competitions.