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Strength vs Size

It seems based on what I read on this board that gaining size doesn’t necessarily mean gaining strength. Is this really true?

So if I’m training in the gym for hypertrophy, I could be gaining size while still doing the same weights every week for a while? I used to always use strength as a measure of muscle mass gain, but apparently that’s not a good measure?

I would be willing to state that size isn’t necessarily related to strength. However, that is not to say that you can’t be both big and strong at the same time. There are a lot of big strong guys (and girls).

Some strength gains (especially those gains when you first start training) are the result of your nervous system being better able to activate your muscles. When you’re training I wouldn’t say that you specifically need to stay with the same weights. The fact is that you need to load your muscles with enough weight to make them adapt. If you’re consistantly lifting the same weights you’re not going to grow.

Ok, let’s say for example, I decide to do a 2 week Mag-10 cycle. Say I gain 10 pounds of LBM during this. Will this translate into huge strength gains or will it simply be mass that is gained without the strength?

I honestly can’t see someone getting so much stronger in 2 weeks… at least with strength gains that I would normally associate with a 10 pound increase in LBM. But I have never experiemented with androgens before.

Kinetix just hit the nail on the head.

If I wasn’t aware of the need to increase my lift poundages in the gym, I’d never be constantly making any gains in terms of LBM. Period.

Sure, my goals now are pure strength, but that doesn’t mean I won’t grow. Quite the opposite: I’m growing like a weed.

Let me rephrase my question.

I know that gaining strength will probably imply that you will gain some LBM. But does gaining LBM imply that you will probably gain some strength?

strength is a neuro-muscular motor quality. the muscular aspect of strength is that it correlates directly to cross-sectional muscle mass, especialy sarcomeric growth (i.e real growth, not pump)

you can get bigger and weaker, if you train to failure consistently. that will burn your cns out of the picture. the fun part is youll start getting smaller in no time.


If you want to get big in a meaningful way train for strength. You’ll have to grow to make strength gains. JM’s training program, training for maximal size, is an example of a strength training program being used for hypertrophy.

The explanation for the non one-to-one relationship between strength and size, could lie in the composition of the muscles.

There are three major components of muscle cells: myofibrils, sarcoplasm and mitochondria. The latter two yield muscle cell volume but are not contractile elements. Strength focus training acts on mostly the stregth yeilding contractile components of the muscle cells. At least this is the way I have always understood it.

I am sure we have all seen two people do an identical routine, yet derive almost two completly different results. Those who respond with size from their training most likely have a larger proportion of myofibrils in their muscle cells.

Correction, substitute the word strength for the word size in my final paragraph of my previous post. Should read:

“I am sure we have all seen two people do an identical routine, yet derive almost two completly different results. Those who respond with ‘STRENGTH’ from their training most likely have a larger proportion of myofibrils in their muscle cells”.

I can see that I am going to have to start proof reading these things.

“I know that gaining strength will probably imply that you will gain some LBM. But does gaining LBM imply that you will probably gain some strength?”

It’s actually the exact opposite. You can gain strength without size. Gaining size will usually correlate to at least slight increases in strength due to increases in cross sectional area.

Gaining strength will result in size. Gaining size doesn’t necessarily result in strength. A lot of strength people work their muscles 2, maybe 3 times a week. They work on CNS activation. Size people work on the pump and muscular activation, and tend to work their muscles once a week to failure. Look at olympic lifters/power lifters vs natural bodybuilders. There is a huge compositional difference. People that move large amounts of weight aren’t necessarily going to be huge, but rather have more efficient neuronal activation.

Ok well MAG-10 users claim to gain > 10 lbs of LBM in extremely short times (2 weeks). Now I am assuming this is mostly from muscle volume increases and not too much strength increase. How can this be explained?

10 lbs of muscle in my mind translates into HUGE strength gains. But can that honestly happen in 2 weeks with MAG-10? it seems more likely that there are only size gains rather than strength.

Why I am concerned is… if I go on a MAG-10 cycle, would strength be expected to gain as rapidly as size?
I would feel more comfortable with gaining 10 lbs on the scale if there was an associated gain in strength. It would make me feel as though my gains were more solid. Just because I gain 10 lbs, I dont’ think i can suddenly think “oh i’m gaining so much lbm!”
I would be more confident in saying that if there was a strength gain as well. But it seems that might not be the case…

Hehe Eric and JWright just said 2 opposite things :slight_smile:

Guess there is disagreement on this issue.

I do believe that strength gains will result in at least some size, and size gains will result in at least some strength. Not being a real newbie, I noticed when I gain strength, I gain some size, especially in my back. I’ve never really trained for size, so I can’t tell you about personal experiences with that.

I trained merely for hypertrophy during the majority of my 20-years in the gym. Even during that time, I developed strength.

Those years also provided me a very sound strength base as I became involved in strongman. It’s only been this past year that I’ve begun training only for strength. During my 20-years, I’ve seen gains in both strength and LBM.

I guess this could also be entirely individual.

Patricia the crazy Malaysian. I like that.

Steihl, most impressive strength gains come from the neuro-muscular interaction within muscle cells. Adding 10 pounds of new muscle cells will most likely mean that the new muscle will have to be trained for a while under maximal loads before it gains the same “quality” as the rest of your muscles.

This is sort of how a 220 pound guy who’s been powerlifting for 15 years will be twice as strong as a 220 pound high school football player of the same body composition…the longer a muscle is trained the better wired the neurons are.

The mag-10 muscle wont be as strong as your other muscles for a while, but will still add a good amount of strength.


Strength gains USUALLY lead to size gains, but NOT ALWAYS. Take, for example, individuals that compete in weight class based events or swimming. If you say that one can’t gain strength without size, you undermine the concept of relative strength.

Possibly depends on how you define “strength”, considering the three common types of strength (max, for reps, for speed).

I mentioned that kid at Goldberg’s meet that totaled 1394 at 121. He was pretty damn small, hypertrophically speaking. Just a stick, really. You would think that if there was a direct linear relationship, squatting and deadlifting 4 times your body weight would make you big. Not here. The skinniest thing on him was his legs.

Yeah, they’re related, but you can focus on one without increasing the other as much by modifying diet and nutrition.


I agree. I just think it is unusual to train for strength and not increase in size just the slightest. Would you increase in density then?