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Strength Training for Size


What do you guys think about the idea that training for strength will get you size? Im talking about 5 rep sets. It seems to work for me as long as I am eating enough.


This is exactly my approach to gaining size at the moment. Training for strength on main movements and including a few higher-rep isolation movements works very well for me provided i eat enough. Its also the most practical way to make sure you are progressing week to week IMO.
You mention 5 rep sets, are you doing a 5x5 program? I doubt many people would question their effectiveness


A mix is always the best. Always doing 10 reps, or always doing 5 reps is a sure way to limit gains IMO.
If you want to get the best of both worlds, then incorporate both periodically.


Of course training for strength builds size. You realize that's one of the points, don't you? Powerlifters aren't small. I don't see too many bodybuilders only benching and squatting 135.

5x5, 8x3, 3x8, 4x6, 6x4 - They all work, as long as you progressively try to use more weight week after week and eat enough. Like jehovasfitness said, incorporate them all periodically.


James chan's heavy/light method works great (I know its not his method but since he mentioned it in one of his articles, I always refer to it as his).

Also, I know Chad Waterbury has been ridiculed to death by many, but to me, his hybrid hypertrophy program works so well because he adds a high rep set to the mix of heavy lifting sets.

I always include high and low reps in all my programs, and things seem to go better that way.


I realize the "secret" is always trying to add more weight. My question was more about strength training programs and their effectiveness for adding size compared to a program where hypertrophy and bodybuilding is the main goal.


Well even if the strength training workout didn't add size it would increse the workload when you did do hypertrophy training. Both are needed.


i just liked to get a weight that was like my 6RM, when I could do 10 reps with it I go up to a weight thats my 6RM again.

When I can train again im going to do that and occassionally do 2 weeks of 20+ rep stuff for my joints


I would. haha

Strength is always paramount in gaining size, but the reason most people go for higher reps is because they feel they can put more focus on the muscle group, with less cheating or wearing on the joints.

That said its still a perfectly good way to train although I wouldn't do all my exercises exclusively with 5 rep sets.


Strength increase + Calorie Surplus = Increased size

The formula that always works.


Can you link any of these programs, I am currently training for size, and I'd like any help I can get.


Fixed that just to make sure. People always misunderstand and start to think that lifting something once will make them big.


I'm surprised. Nowadays when I train a bodypart I pyramid up through moderate rep ranges until I get to a 4-6 rep max. Then maybe drop down to a lighter weight to get more blood in there or to completely exhaust the muscle.

Isn't this how most people train?

I personally don't even differentiate much between very heavy training (3-5 reps) and lighter reps. It's all used together and it's all very much on "training very heavy but making sure by the end my muscles are fatigued and pumped with blood".

I also don't like set paramteres like 8x3 or 5x5 because it tends to put you into a restrictive mindset where you obsess over exactly how many sets you've done instead of how the muscle feels and whether you are adding more weight to the bar consistently.

Instead of all that brainy stuff why don't you just work up through higher rep sets to a few very heavy sets and then drop off a bit and pump out some higher rep stuff if fatigue is an issue? This is not set in stone either like 5x5 or 8x3 and you might find yourself feeling like you want to keep things lighter or go heavier and turn that 4 rep max into an 8 rep one over several months.


I agree with you entirely, in fact i mentioned that I personally use some variety of rep ranges. That said, I know people who've progressed for months at a time sticking to 5*5 on their core lifts (I don't think this is optimal though, and I'm sure there is a point when more variation is absolutely necessary)


Best post. I am also sure that the ones who figure that out will make the most progress over time.


Correct me if I'm not seeing the whole picture, but don't pyramids fatigue you, so that by the time you hit the low reps, you're not lifting as much as if you were fresh?


Pyramids get me ready for the last set. They don't prevent anything...but INJURY. This concept may be hard to understand if you are just starting. You don't walk into the gym and put 405lbs on the bar as your first set unless you really want to tear a pectoralis muscle. It is a combination of fatigue and preparation for a heavy set using the most weight for several reps (whether that last set ne 4 or 8 reps).


Thanks. Yeah, I'm definitely no where near 405. Would you classify your early sets as warmups or is warmup a positive side effect? I don't know what it's like to go through so much volume, but do you feel really worked on your earlier higher rep sets?


an example would be

Hammer strength chest press
Set 1 - 20kg plate a side for easy 10 reps
Set 2 - 20kg & 10kg plate a side for 10
Set 3 - 2 20kg plates for 8
Set 4 - 2 20kg & 10kg for 8
Set 5 - 3 20kg for 6

Set 2-3 are somewhat difficult but they are basically a cross between a warm up/work set, you are as fresh as you can be for your final set or two.


I don't do pyramids for this reason. I use pyramid warmups though, which provide a stimulus for the big sets but do not provide any fatigue.

Here is an example for 130# dumbbell bench press:

I do it like this:
Bar or light dumbbells x 10 - 20
30% x 12 reps
50% x 10 reps
70% x 8 reps
90% x 6 reps

130s x 2 x 6 - 8 reps