T Nation

The Role of Strength

Think this might make an interesting discussion topic.

For simplicity’s sake let’s just keep our definition of strength as relative to the individual lifter and not in terms of absolutes using arbitrary numbers like 300/400/500 etc.

How important is relative strength, and increasing it, to hypertrophy? For someone whose overall goal is to get bigger and leaner(eventually on the leaner part) what role SHOULD strength training play? Can someone simply forgo a strength phase, techniques etc and expect to still get big, or will lack of relative strength limit size gains? How would you recommend incorporating strength phases and/or specific training methods in order to increase one’s relaive strength in the event you do argue its importance?

Let’s keep it clean and friendly. I am on the fence about my opinion so I will wait to chime in for a bit after hearing some of your thoughts.

I personally think a lot of time should be spent building strength in the “mass builders”, but working with sets in hypertrophy ranges. Higher reps for back and leg work (12-20), lower for everything else (6-12). Basically approach it as you would for a strength program (i.e., chase the numbers), but focus on higher reps.

By “mass builders”, I mean deadlift variations, squat variations, dips, pullovers/straight-arm-pulldowns, pullups, flat pressing, overhead pressing, rows, and even BB curls. Might have missed something.

Until a good base has been built with those, I don’t think there’s a real need to even touch isolation movements, intensity techniques, etc. I feel like those are best left for adding finishing touches and balancing out weaknesses.

Purely my opinion, and definitely more of an old-school approach.

Slightly off topic, but I think strength based programs are a lot “simpler” for beginners to do vs a BB split. Higher frequency seems to lead to faster progress for most beginners, and limiting the number of movements seems to keep the intensity higher. If you bump up the reps a bit, but still focus on pushing up the numbers, I think you can see the most progress soonest.

I think strength training in the beginning and intermediate stages is crucial. There is no way I could have made the hypertrophy gains that I did without years and years of strength training. This allows you to use “heavy” weight when you are lifting relatively light. Bringing up this “relatively light” th

reshold is key for making continual gains year after year. Tim Henriques has an article about a yearly training plan or something, where strength is a focus for a few months, and then move into a long(which is relative to the person lifting) season of hypertrophy training, along with some agility and mobility work along the way. Bringing up your baseline will result in a better physique.

[quote]Ripsaw3689 wrote:
Tim Henriques has an article about a yearly training plan or something[/quote]

This one? http://www.T-Nation.com/free_online_article/most_recent/a_yearly_strength_plan

I like to think John Meadows has pretty good ‘guidelines’ at the beginning of this article concerning strength levels needed at certain levels of development.

[quote]LoRez wrote:

[quote]Ripsaw3689 wrote:
Tim Henriques has an article about a yearly training plan or something[/quote]

This one? http://www.T-Nation.com/free_online_article/most_recent/a_yearly_strength_plan
[/quote]

Yeah, that one. I was too lazy to post up a link. I think it is a very good template to structure your training on a year long scale.

I think everyone, especially naturals, should focus on relative strength in the beginning until they put up some respectable poundages in exercises like squats, pullups, chinups, overhead presses, dips, bent over or dumbbell rows, and deadlifts.

However, after some time, if they want to have the most aesthetically pleasing physique, they have to make adjustments to their training and have a pure bodybuilding program. But if they want to just be a recreational lifter that’s big and strong, having “capped delts”, “teardrops”, “outer thigh sweep”, and a “v-taper” might be of little importance.

And again, this comes down to just how serious one wants to get also. Yes, there have been powerlifter-bodybuilder hybrids who did GOOD in both endeavors, but they were not at the very top of either. But then again, if one is not destined to be the best in either and he does those two thins for his personal reward and a lifestyle, either competitively or non-competitively, then not being the best isn’t in the card anyway, and he can do what he pleases. When Kirk Karwoski was asked about why he didn’t do a bodybuilding show during a time when he was very lean at 240-something, he said he wanted to accomplish specific things in powerlifting by a certain age and time frame and a physique show would disrupt that plan.

[quote]BrickHead wrote:
I think everyone, especially naturals, should focus on relative strength in the beginning until they put up some respectable poundages in exercises like squats, pullups, chinups, overhead presses, dips, bent over or dumbbell rows, and deadlifts. However, after some time, if they want to have the most aesthetically pleasing physique, they have to make adjustments to their training and have a pure bodybuilding program. But if they want to just be a recreational lifter that’s big and strong, having “capped delts”, “teardrops”, “outer thigh sweep”, and a “v-taper” might be of little importance.

And again, this comes down to just how serious one wants to get also. Yes, there have been powerlifter-bodybuilder hybrids who did GOOD in both endeavors, but they were not at the very top of either. But then again, if one is not destined to be the best in either and he does those two thins for his personal reward and a lifestyle, either competitively or non-competitively, then not being the best isn’t in the card anyway, and he can do what he pleases. When Kirk Karwoski was asked about why he didn’t do a bodybuilding show during a time when he was very lean at 240-something, he said he wanted to accomplish specific things in powerlifting by a certain age and time frame and a physique show would disrupt that plan. [/quote]

x2

I compete as PLer, but I totally understand and realize that I am certainly not gonna be upper crust material, I do it for myself, and my own pursuits, with that being said, when training I also like to do both styles of training.

Dan Green is a guy that comes to mind of a guy who is a absolute beast in the PL world and could probably do a BB show as well.

[quote]BrickHead wrote:
I think everyone, especially naturals, should focus on relative strength in the beginning until they put up some respectable poundages in exercises like squats, pullups, chinups, overhead presses, dips, bent over or dumbbell rows, and deadlifts.

However, after some time, if they want to have the most aesthetically pleasing physique, they have to make adjustments to their training and have a pure bodybuilding program. But if they want to just be a recreational lifter that’s big and strong, having “capped delts”, “teardrops”, “outer thigh sweep”, and a “v-taper” might be of little importance.

And again, this comes down to just how serious one wants to get also. Yes, there have been powerlifter-bodybuilder hybrids who did GOOD in both endeavors, but they were not at the very top of either. But then again, if one is not destined to be the best in either and he does those two thins for his personal reward and a lifestyle, either competitively or non-competitively, then not being the best isn’t in the card anyway, and he can do what he pleases. When Kirk Karwoski was asked about why he didn’t do a bodybuilding show during a time when he was very lean at 240-something, he said he wanted to accomplish specific things in powerlifting by a certain age and time frame and a physique show would disrupt that plan. [/quote]

So would you say that once said lifter reaches those respectable poundages and wants to pursue aesthetics he no longer needs to focus on relative strength in the main lifts as they would detract from his/her goal? Or still incorporate them just at a smaller degree?

[quote]BrickHead wrote:
I think everyone, especially naturals, should focus on relative strength in the beginning until they put up some respectable poundages in exercises like squats, pullups, chinups, overhead presses, dips, bent over or dumbbell rows, and deadlifts.

However, after some time, if they want to have the most aesthetically pleasing physique, they have to make adjustments to their training and have a pure bodybuilding program. But if they want to just be a recreational lifter that’s big and strong, having “capped delts”, “teardrops”, “outer thigh sweep”, and a “v-taper” might be of little importance.

And again, this comes down to just how serious one wants to get also. Yes, there have been powerlifter-bodybuilder hybrids who did GOOD in both endeavors, but they were not at the very top of either. But then again, if one is not destined to be the best in either and he does those two thins for his personal reward and a lifestyle, either competitively or non-competitively, then not being the best isn’t in the card anyway, and he can do what he pleases. When Kirk Karwoski was asked about why he didn’t do a bodybuilding show during a time when he was very lean at 240-something, he said he wanted to accomplish specific things in powerlifting by a certain age and time frame and a physique show would disrupt that plan. [/quote]

what do mean by pure bodybuilder training?

cause there are alot of natural bodybuilders who use strength prioritization, and actual power lifting programs in the off-season. layne norton, jeff alberts, alberto nunez, matt ogus just to name a few.

What it boils down to for me: I have horrible MMC when it comes to chest, lats, and biceps. Therefore, progressively increasing weight and allowing my body to grow stronger helps to make previously “heavy” weights “light”. Once that has been accomplished, I can really hammer the muscle and focus on the contraction with a weight that, before, I wouldn’t have been able to work with at all.

[quote]Waittz wrote:

[quote]BrickHead wrote:
I think everyone, especially naturals, should focus on relative strength in the beginning until they put up some respectable poundages in exercises like squats, pullups, chinups, overhead presses, dips, bent over or dumbbell rows, and deadlifts.

However, after some time, if they want to have the most aesthetically pleasing physique, they have to make adjustments to their training and have a pure bodybuilding program. But if they want to just be a recreational lifter that’s big and strong, having “capped delts”, “teardrops”, “outer thigh sweep”, and a “v-taper” might be of little importance.

And again, this comes down to just how serious one wants to get also. Yes, there have been powerlifter-bodybuilder hybrids who did GOOD in both endeavors, but they were not at the very top of either. But then again, if one is not destined to be the best in either and he does those two thins for his personal reward and a lifestyle, either competitively or non-competitively, then not being the best isn’t in the card anyway, and he can do what he pleases. When Kirk Karwoski was asked about why he didn’t do a bodybuilding show during a time when he was very lean at 240-something, he said he wanted to accomplish specific things in powerlifting by a certain age and time frame and a physique show would disrupt that plan. [/quote]

So would you say that once said lifter reaches those respectable poundages and wants to pursue aesthetics he no longer needs to focus on relative strength in the main lifts as they would detract from his/her goal? Or still incorporate them just at a smaller degree?
[/quote]

I am not an all out expert, but this is what I’ve seen and learned and how I think.

Most of the top bodybuilders I’ve met and observed don’t focus on strictly strength based training at all.

I think it depends on what the person’s goals are, what can be accomplished, and in what time frame are intended accomplishments will probably take place.

If you have someone like Dorian Yates or Lee Haney setting the bodybuilding world on fire from day one, and it’s likely they will dominate that world for as long as they compete, then they will not have time or the inclination for training other than that for bodybuilding.

Same with the Kirk Karwoski example, although he dominated powerlifting, not bodybuilding.

Of course, for nearly all people who will be doing this for a long time, and will not be dominating bodybuilding or powerlifting (barring a few exceptions who do very well at both), then there is no harm in dabbling with both and setting up their training in blocks of strength and physique training. If I recall correctly, Layne does some hybrid training called PHAT.

As a natural getting stronger is the best way to gain muscle. If you’re not at least progressing in some major lift (whatever you chose them to be, the big 3 or incline and frontsquat and rack pull w/e) what’s the point? You can do all the pump stuff you want as assistance but getting stronger is still the biggest driver in gaining muscle. The guys at 3dmj (arguably the best natty bb coaches) preach this all the time

Also Stan Efferding is the only one I can think of who is at the top of the bbing and powerlifting worlds respectively.

[quote]ryan.b_96 wrote:

[quote]BrickHead wrote:
I think everyone, especially naturals, should focus on relative strength in the beginning until they put up some respectable poundages in exercises like squats, pullups, chinups, overhead presses, dips, bent over or dumbbell rows, and deadlifts.

However, after some time, if they want to have the most aesthetically pleasing physique, they have to make adjustments to their training and have a pure bodybuilding program. But if they want to just be a recreational lifter that’s big and strong, having “capped delts”, “teardrops”, “outer thigh sweep”, and a “v-taper” might be of little importance.

And again, this comes down to just how serious one wants to get also. Yes, there have been powerlifter-bodybuilder hybrids who did GOOD in both endeavors, but they were not at the very top of either. But then again, if one is not destined to be the best in either and he does those two thins for his personal reward and a lifestyle, either competitively or non-competitively, then not being the best isn’t in the card anyway, and he can do what he pleases. When Kirk Karwoski was asked about why he didn’t do a bodybuilding show during a time when he was very lean at 240-something, he said he wanted to accomplish specific things in powerlifting by a certain age and time frame and a physique show would disrupt that plan. [/quote]

what do mean by pure bodybuilder training?

cause there are alot of natural bodybuilders who use strength prioritization, and actual power lifting programs in the off-season. layne norton, jeff alberts, alberto nunez, matt ogus just to name a few. [/quote]

What I mean by pure bodybuilding training is the training nearly all bodybuilders do all of the time, a typical setup like:

  • 3 to 4 sets of 8 to 12 reps or 6 to 8 reps for all exercises
  • “training bodyparts”, not “training lifts”, not “training assistance movements”
  • 2 to 4 sets per muscle group
  • following a bodypart split, not days dedicated to improving lifts

Yes, I know there are guys who dabble in both, and if dabbling in both doesn’t hurt their accomplishments in either, then that’s good! However, the best in either never tampered with the other, and I think this says something, as I’ve gone over before.

Now, once muscle is built in some areas, it’s highly unlikely that muscle will be lost during a 3 to 6 month powerlifting stint, but max strength can suffer during a bodybuilding phase and we should take notice that some bodybuilders do not feel the flat bench, back squats, and/or deadlifts are not the best exercises for their personal physique makeup and that by excluding these exercises during a bodybuilding phase, they are not making headway in them. They’ll also lose ground if they don’t include 1 to 5 rep max lifts because straining with a 1 to 5 rep max is very different than lifting for reps.

Anyway, losing some ground here and there shouldn’t be of consequence to some guy that doesn’t even compete in either.

I would think you want to get stronger in order to get bigger. I don’t think a lot of natural trainee can gain a lot of size without getting stronger one way or another.

[quote]shffl wrote:
I would think you want to get stronger in order to get bigger. I don’t think a lot of natural trainee can gain a lot of size without getting stronger one way or another.[/quote]
Obviously the more you lift weights the stronger you’ll get.
I think Brick is saying that the focus isn’t focused on increasing your 1RM on the big 3.

I don’t think chasing 1RMs is helpful at all unless you want to get into powerlifting. Building up rep maxes will suit you better. As in, no lower than a 5RM.

Of course, then you get into the argument of “will building your 1RM build your 5RM?” I don’t know…maybe, probably? I’m far from being an expert at this, and I’ve chased the 1RMs like everyone else so I guess I’m a hypocrite, LOL.

[quote]BrickHead wrote:

[quote]ryan.b_96 wrote:

[quote]BrickHead wrote:
I think everyone, especially naturals, should focus on relative strength in the beginning until they put up some respectable poundages in exercises like squats, pullups, chinups, overhead presses, dips, bent over or dumbbell rows, and deadlifts.

However, after some time, if they want to have the most aesthetically pleasing physique, they have to make adjustments to their training and have a pure bodybuilding program. But if they want to just be a recreational lifter that’s big and strong, having “capped delts”, “teardrops”, “outer thigh sweep”, and a “v-taper” might be of little importance.

And again, this comes down to just how serious one wants to get also. Yes, there have been powerlifter-bodybuilder hybrids who did GOOD in both endeavors, but they were not at the very top of either. But then again, if one is not destined to be the best in either and he does those two thins for his personal reward and a lifestyle, either competitively or non-competitively, then not being the best isn’t in the card anyway, and he can do what he pleases. When Kirk Karwoski was asked about why he didn’t do a bodybuilding show during a time when he was very lean at 240-something, he said he wanted to accomplish specific things in powerlifting by a certain age and time frame and a physique show would disrupt that plan. [/quote]

what do mean by pure bodybuilder training?

cause there are alot of natural bodybuilders who use strength prioritization, and actual power lifting programs in the off-season. layne norton, jeff alberts, alberto nunez, matt ogus just to name a few. [/quote]

What I mean by pure bodybuilding training is the training nearly all bodybuilders do all of the time, a typical setup like:

  • 3 to 4 sets of 8 to 12 reps or 6 to 8 reps for all exercises
  • “training bodyparts”, not “training lifts”, not “training assistance movements”
  • 2 to 4 sets per muscle group
  • following a bodypart split, not days dedicated to improving lifts

Yes, I know there are guys who dabble in both, and if dabbling in both doesn’t hurt their accomplishments in either, then that’s good! However, the best in either never tampered with the other, and I think this says something, as I’ve gone over before.

Now, once muscle is built in some areas, it’s highly unlikely that muscle will be lost during a 3 to 6 month powerlifting stint, but max strength can suffer during a bodybuilding phase and we should take notice that some bodybuilders do not feel the flat bench, back squats, and/or deadlifts are not the best exercises for their personal physique makeup and that by excluding these exercises during a bodybuilding phase, they are not making headway in them. They’ll also lose ground if they don’t include 1 to 5 rep max lifts because straining with a 1 to 5 rep max is very different than lifting for reps.

Anyway, losing some ground here and there shouldn’t be of consequence to some guy that doesn’t even compete in either. [/quote]

layne norton dabbles in both and he is one of the best on the natty bodybuilding stage.

anyway both ways have been proven to work. it just seems alot of good natty coaches are turning more to strength increases in the big exercises (powerlifting movements or variations of them) as their main measurement of progression for themselves and trainees , alot happen to compete in both powerlifting and bodybuilding.

[quote]BrickHead wrote:

[quote]ryan.b_96 wrote:

[quote]BrickHead wrote:
I think everyone, especially naturals, should focus on relative strength in the beginning until they put up some respectable poundages in exercises like squats, pullups, chinups, overhead presses, dips, bent over or dumbbell rows, and deadlifts.

However, after some time, if they want to have the most aesthetically pleasing physique, they have to make adjustments to their training and have a pure bodybuilding program. But if they want to just be a recreational lifter that’s big and strong, having “capped delts”, “teardrops”, “outer thigh sweep”, and a “v-taper” might be of little importance.

And again, this comes down to just how serious one wants to get also. Yes, there have been powerlifter-bodybuilder hybrids who did GOOD in both endeavors, but they were not at the very top of either. But then again, if one is not destined to be the best in either and he does those two thins for his personal reward and a lifestyle, either competitively or non-competitively, then not being the best isn’t in the card anyway, and he can do what he pleases. When Kirk Karwoski was asked about why he didn’t do a bodybuilding show during a time when he was very lean at 240-something, he said he wanted to accomplish specific things in powerlifting by a certain age and time frame and a physique show would disrupt that plan. [/quote]

what do mean by pure bodybuilder training?

cause there are alot of natural bodybuilders who use strength prioritization, and actual power lifting programs in the off-season. layne norton, jeff alberts, alberto nunez, matt ogus just to name a few. [/quote]

What I mean by pure bodybuilding training is the training nearly all bodybuilders do all of the time, a typical setup like:

  • 3 to 4 sets of 8 to 12 reps or 6 to 8 reps for all exercises
  • “training bodyparts”, not “training lifts”, not “training assistance movements”
  • 2 to 4 sets per muscle group
  • following a bodypart split, not days dedicated to improving lifts

Yes, I know there are guys who dabble in both, and if dabbling in both doesn’t hurt their accomplishments in either, then that’s good! However, the best in either never tampered with the other, and I think this says something, as I’ve gone over before.

Now, once muscle is built in some areas, it’s highly unlikely that muscle will be lost during a 3 to 6 month powerlifting stint, but max strength can suffer during a bodybuilding phase and we should take notice that some bodybuilders do not feel the flat bench, back squats, and/or deadlifts are not the best exercises for their personal physique makeup and that by excluding these exercises during a bodybuilding phase, they are not making headway in them. They’ll also lose ground if they don’t include 1 to 5 rep max lifts because straining with a 1 to 5 rep max is very different than lifting for reps.

Anyway, losing some ground here and there shouldn’t be of consequence to some guy that doesn’t even compete in either. [/quote]

Hey Brick, off topic, are you still doing the ‘2 steps forward, 1 step back’ approach from that timberwolf blurb you posted a while back?