T Nation

Train for Strength vs. Size

I’m reading Thib’s latest article. In it, he differentiates between training for strength and training for size. Many articles do. The frequency of learned authors making a distinction between the two, combined with my complete ignorance of their differences, makes me feel more inferior than I’m accustomed to.

The skinny: What’s the difference between training for size and training for strength? I figure that the two cannot be mutually exclusive - that is to say, by training for size, aren’t you also training for strength? Or if not, is it possible that someone without size could be stronger than Mr. Staypuft?

(sidenote: Most everyone that asks for info/advice on the boards is 5’10" or 5’11"…conspiracy?)

They are not mutually exclusive.

Train for strength and you’ll get bigger. Train for size and you’ll get stronger. Whatever you are trying to concentrate on, the other will come along too, although likely at a lesser rate than the other.

Stronger muscles have more potential to get bigger, and bigger muscles have more potential to get stronger.

Many templates address, or attempt to adress both strength and size at the same time. Westside (and variations) and HSS-100 are good examples of this. In very generalized terms, they advocate working your main lift heavy, low reps for strength, and then assistance lifts higher rep “bodybuilding style” for size.

It’s all about your goals. Define a goal, make a plan, work hard for a couple months. Evaluate, adjust as necessary, and do it again.

LA

The big distinction is that Strength is a highly neural phenomenon. That means your internal wiring affects greatly how much strength you can demonstrate. So to answer your question a skilled olympic lifter could easily Snatch more weight than a much larger lumberjack because he is much more efficient at recruiting muscles for that movement. But A much larger equally skilled lifter would obviously be able to lift more weight.

Size can be due to MANY factors and is thus a little bit more complicated. So you can train to make your nervous system more efficient oryou can beat up the muscle tissue itself and hope it grows. THey are not mutually exlcusive at all but there are different mechanisms at work here.

[quote]mchron wrote:
The big distinction is that Strength is a highly neural phenomenon. That means your internal wiring affects greatly how much strength you can demonstrate. So to answer your question a skilled olympic lifter could easily Snatch more weight than a much larger lumberjack because he is much more efficient at recruiting muscles for that movement. But A much larger equally skilled lifter would obviously be able to lift more weight.

Size can be due to MANY factors and is thus a little bit more complicated. So you can train to make your nervous system more efficient oryou can beat up the muscle tissue itself and hope it grows. THey are not mutually exlcusive at all but there are different mechanisms at work here.

[/quote]

Good answer.

Only thing I’d like to add is that the term “strength” is highly subjective and different people mean different things when using the term to describe something.

In most articles here, “strength” means your 1 Rmax, the maximum weight you can complete a single repetition with.

If you want other types of strength, e.g. performing as much repetitions as possible with a given weight (e.g. Bench Pressing 225 for max reps), the whole training concept changes along with your goal.

So basically what you’re saying is that in order to develop the most of one’s max strength potential, added size is essential?

If that’s the case, why not just train specifically for size for a while and then focus only on strength?

So basically what you’re saying is that in order to develop the most of one’s max strength potential, added size is essential?

If that’s the case, why not just train specifically for size for a while and then focus only on strength?

[quote]LA wrote:
They are not mutually exclusive.

Train for strength and you’ll get bigger. Train for size and you’ll get stronger. Whatever you are trying to concentrate on, the other will come along too, although likely at a lesser rate than the other.

Stronger muscles have more potential to get bigger, and bigger muscles have more potential to get stronger.

Many templates address, or attempt to adress both strength and size at the same time. Westside (and variations) and HSS-100 are good examples of this. In very generalized terms, they advocate working your main lift heavy, low reps for strength, and then assistance lifts higher rep “bodybuilding style” for size.

It’s all about your goals. Define a goal, make a plan, work hard for a couple months. Evaluate, adjust as necessary, and do it again.

LA[/quote]

This post here sums it up very well.