T Nation

Why Do BBers Do Strength Programs?

As the title would suggest I am wondering why people wanting to get big and look good are being told to do starting strength or 5/3/1 and other programs focusing on strength based linear or percentage progression.

I see guys in the gym all the time doing SS for a year with the idea that they will get strong and that will in turn allow them to get bigger later but it never seems to work. The guy squatting big weights for low reps then tried to do a bodybuilding routine and his supposed strength evaporates once he goes over 5 repetitions.

I have seen guys make progress on 5/3/1 but mostly strength, but I always see guys who train like a bodybuilder, make more progress in terms of looking like a bodybuilder, which seems blindingly obvious.

So where has this pro heavy compound anti volume anti isolation advice come from in recent years? How do you feel about guys advising people to use your program to get big and have you seen a similar progression scheme of say 12/10/8 with percentages based on a 12 rep max? 5/3/1 seems to me like a simple way to teach ramping if used in the context of bodybuilding.

I disagree with what you are saying, just from personal experience. I do 531, and yesterday for my bench 3+ week, I did 300 for 4, then afterwards dropped back to 240 which was the same weight as my first set, and knocked out 12 reps. Sometimes I drop back to 225 after my third set, and can hit 15-16 reps at that. Seems like a wide rep range, so my strength isn’t just in the low reps. Oh, and morning weigh in, 150.0 lbs.

[quote]some_dude wrote:
Do you really think that someone who can squat 500lbs suddenly becomes weak on the 6th rep?

Do you not think that someone who is used to squatting for 5 reps might take a couple of weeks before they’re accustomed to squatting for 10 reps?

This is one of the dumber questions I’ve seen on this forum. If you put a tiny bit of thought into this question I bet you could answer this yourself.
[/quote]

First almost no one squats them numbers natural. I am talking about starting strength and other routines being recommended to young guys as a first program who want to get into bodybuilding. 5/3/1 has became the number one recommendation, but I still fail to see how squatting big weights leads to more hypertrophy, as opposed to squatting 180 pounds with high reps and a calorie surplus.

If you look at zach on the SS boards he squats big weight and is rips poster boy for SS. Yet people who leg press and do a bunch of leg curls have better built legs within a year of doing split routines.

Again I am not shitting on SS or 5/3/1. I am saying they re great for building strength. But why are these being recommended to kids wanting to build muscle, when it is not optimal for that.

And I am not criticising Wendler for it, He clearly states what 5/3/1 is for. I am just asking why he thinks people are trying to prescribe routines when they are not appropriate for the goals of someone looking to build muscle first and have some numbers to boast about second.

And to answer your assertion that they don’t lose strength not the sixth rep, no they don’t but they do lack any sort of muscular endurance and as soon as they go from squatting 250lbs 3x5 on the novice program and try and do a split, they find that in order to hit 8-12 reps they are pretty much squatting what they were before doing SS. This is not true for everyone but it is quite common.

Then there seems to genuinely be people who do not respond at all to low rep training and can not increase weight linearly and have zero adaption to strength in the lower rep training routine.

In fact the reason I am now doing 5/3/1 is because I am joining the military and noticed that doing a few Wendler cycles starting light got my overhead press to be over what it was on SS in just a few cycles. Doing AMRAP on plus sets made me respond in a way I never did training with low reps.

[quote]Ecchastang wrote:
I disagree with what you are saying, just from personal experience. I do 531, and yesterday for my bench 3+ week, I did 300 for 4, then afterwards dropped back to 240 which was the same weight as my first set, and knocked out 12 reps. Sometimes I drop back to 225 after my third set, and can hit 15-16 reps at that. Seems like a wide rep range, so my strength isn’t just in the low reps. Oh, and morning weigh in, 150.0 lbs. [/quote]

Of course my opinions reflect my own experiences and I accept that yours may be different. I don’t know if it is genetics or what but I never really got anything out of low reps and I know one or two guys who did not either. My mate did SS, then the advanced novice program and went on to mad cow etc and now does 5/3/1 and lifts double what i can. I don’t know if I have the lowest fast twitch muscle finer count in the world but even if I sleep 8 hours a night, get a 300 calorie surplus and steadily gain weigt my body never seems to adapt to low rep linear progression.

I got a couple one on ones with a well known ex olympic lifter turned raw powerlifter/strongman because I figured it must be my form. I tried eating more, i tried taking extra naps in the day for recovery, I put everything into my sessions and I never made progress.

As soon as I lifted more volume I got stronger, not strong compared to a strong person, but i saw improvement when before I saw zero progress.

The low reps things is just my personal opinion on gaining strength and not about the subject of the thread though, just a reply.

My main question was just what does jim think about people recommending his program to people who are not in any way interested in powerlifting and don’t nescissarily care about the weight they are lifting and are only looking for maximum size. It just seems odd, so many personal trainers at gyms, people on forums recommending strength routines to people not interested in maximal strength but rather looking to get big.

[quote]Pj92x wrote:
low reps things is just my personal opinion on gaining strength and not about the subject of the thread though, just a reply.
[/quote]
Yet you wrote above

[quote]Pj92x wrote:
The guy squatting big weights for low reps then tried to do a bodybuilding routine and his supposed strength evaporates once he goes over 5 repetitions.
[/quote]

Seems like you were making it part of the subject of the thread. Sure if someone wants a bodybuilding routine, do that instead of a strength routine, but don’t say that people focus on strength don’t have endurance past a very low rep count.

If you want to be a BMX pro you don’t just pick up a bike and start jumping off shit looking cool…

You start on a little crappy bike with stabilizers to learn your craft from the roots up, then progress.

I don’t see how weight lifting / body building is any different. You need to start with the basics and learn your craft, progress, develop a good base off strength then go into a more specialised routine. If that’s what you wish to do.

For example, Arnold Schwarzenegger didn’t just start bodybuilding on a complex split, he spent years just working on compound lifts from a young age. He seemed to turn out alright…

[quote]Pj92x wrote:

First almost no one squats them numbers natural. I am talking about starting strength and other routines being recommended to young guys as a first program who want to get into bodybuilding. 5/3/1 has became the number one recommendation, but I still fail to see how squatting big weights leads to more hypertrophy, as opposed to squatting 180 pounds with high reps and a calorie surplus.[/quote]

I think the general idea is that no one really gets big without lifting heavy. Most bodybuilding workouts have a lot of volume at relatively low intensity, so for a beginner he’s benching 95lbs over and over again with very little progression since he doesn’t have the strength to endure the volume.

If he were to run a few months of SS on the other hand he’d (with any luck) be benching up around 185-225 for sets of 5. If at this stage he were to start pushing his 185 up to sets of 10 the progress should be obvious.

The thing to keep in mind is that Starting Strength is a starting (i.e., beginners) strength program. It’s designed to develop strong athletes in a relatively short period of time. When your goal is to cave in a man’s chest with your shoulder the choice of squats over leg press/curl is obvious.

Starting Strength is not designed to produce bodybuilders, however I believe it’s frequently suggested because it’s effective at developing a good strength base and most bodybuilders start into hypertrophy training with no base to back them up. How many skinnys do you see at the gym doing 5 day splits and pressing 20lb dumbbells overhead? As someone who’s done SS do you not think they’d have better results if they learned to press a heavy barbell overhead until they could handle 40 or 50 lb dumbbells?

[quote]
In fact the reason I am now doing 5/3/1 is because I am joining the military and noticed that doing a few wendler cycles starting light got my overhead press to be over what it was on SS in just a few cycles. Doing AMRAP on plus sets made me respond in a way I never did training with low reps.[/quote]

One thing to keep in mind was that SS gave you a foundation upon which to build your 5/3/1 training.

[quote]iamLEWIS wrote:
If you want to be a BMX pro you don’t just pick up a bike and start jumping off shit looking cool…

You start on a little crappy bike with stabilizers to learn your craft from the roots up, then progress.

I don’t see how weight lifting / body building is any different. You need to start with the basics and learn your craft, progress, develop a good base off strength then go into a more specialised routine. If that’s what you wish to do.

For example, Arnold Schwarzenegger didn’t just start bodybuilding on a complex split, he spent years just working on compound lifts from a young age. He seemed to turn out alright…

[/quote]

Couldn’t it be argued high reps offer a foundation of lower strength but more mass, making building more mass easier? For example didn’t serge nubret do very high volume low weight? He looked better than arnold in my opinion.

And can I ask do you think some people do not respond to low rep training? I really tried to stick to SS but I just never gained anything from it, the coaching I got helped me add maybe another 20 pounds from where I was but once my form was good I just did not respond to increasing weight, I asked about it on another site awhile ago and someone actually posted a Tnation article about non responders, which I thought was interesting.

[quote]Pj92x wrote:

[quote]iamLEWIS wrote:
If you want to be a BMX pro you don’t just pick up a bike and start jumping off shit looking cool…

You start on a little crappy bike with stabilizers to learn your craft from the roots up, then progress.

I don’t see how weight lifting / body building is any different. You need to start with the basics and learn your craft, progress, develop a good base off strength then go into a more specialised routine. If that’s what you wish to do.

For example, Arnold Schwarzenegger didn’t just start bodybuilding on a complex split, he spent years just working on compound lifts from a young age. He seemed to turn out alright…

[/quote]

Couldn’t it be argued high reps offer a foundation of lower strength but more mass, making building more mass easier? For example didn’t serge nubret do very high volume low weight? He looked better than arnold in my opinion.

And can I ask do you think some people do not respond to low rep training? I really tried to stick to SS but I just never gained anything from it, the coaching I got helped me add maybe another 20 pounds from where I was but once my form was good I just did not respond to increasing weight, I asked about it on another site awhile ago and someone actually posted a Tnation article about non responders, which I thought was interesting.[/quote]

Whatever works for you - I’d keep doing that

[quote]some_dude wrote:

[quote]Pj92x wrote:

First almost no one squats them numbers natural. I am talking about starting strength and other routines being recommended to young guys as a first program who want to get into bodybuilding. 5/3/1 has became the number one recommendation, but I still fail to see how squatting big weights leads to more hypertrophy, as opposed to squatting 180 pounds with high reps and a calorie surplus.[/quote]

I think the general idea is that no one really gets big without lifting heavy. Most bodybuilding workouts have a lot of volume at relatively low intensity, so for a beginner he’s benching 95lbs over and over again with very little progression since he doesn’t have the strength to endure the volume.

If he were to run a few months of SS on the other hand he’d (with any luck) be benching up around 185-225 for sets of 5. If at this stage he were to start pushing his 185 up to sets of 10 the progress should be obvious.

The thing to keep in mind is that Starting Strength is a starting (i.e., beginners) strength program. It’s designed to develop strong athletes in a relatively short period of time. When your goal is to cave in a man’s chest with your shoulder the choice of squats over leg press/curl is obvious.

Starting Strength is not designed to produce bodybuilders, however I believe it’s frequently suggested because it’s effective at developing a good strength base and most bodybuilders start into hypertrophy training with no base to back them up. How many skinnys do you see at the gym doing 5 day splits and pressing 20lb dumbbells overhead? As someone who’s done SS do you not think they’d have better results if they learned to press a heavy barbell overhead until they could handle 40 or 50 lb dumbbells?

[quote]
In fact the reason I am now doing 5/3/1 is because I am joining the military and noticed that doing a few wendler cycles starting light got my overhead press to be over what it was on SS in just a few cycles. Doing AMRAP on plus sets made me respond in a way I never did training with low reps.[/quote]

One thing to keep in mind was that SS gave you a foundation upon which to build your 5/3/1 training.[/quote]

Before I did SS I started a very weak kid because I and been off my feet around a year from a car accident which oft me barely being able to bench press 5kg dumbbells at about 16 years old.

I went vegetarian and did lots of running because I had gotten fat as fuck and in the next few years for quite lean compared to what i was but had no muscle.

From there I did splits and got my squat from the bar on its own for a few sets to squatting 60kg for 3-4 sets at 8-10 reps. I jumped onto starting strength at that point and the highest my squat got was 75 at 3x5. As I said I probably have pretty shit genetics and low testosterone from head trauma but my personal experience was I could not gain strength doing that routine, I stuck at it for months, eating lots, getting lessons to get good form. My body simply did not respond and once I got to that 75kg my body would not go further.

Maybe my body is really shit and I am not able to gain strength but I could not and it was certainly not down to lack of effort.

As soon as I jumped on wendler within 3 cycles I could squat more than I did on SS and added mass, because I was doing more volume.

I like 5/3/1 and I do it and on the new periodisation template I am doing I am hoping to gain some mass and look better swell as get a bit stronger every month. But unless syou are prioritising or seeking at least a half strength half size gain why do 5/3/1 ? Why not just do 8-12 reps, eat a lot and gain mass much faster?

Also Arnold had great genetics, was on steroids from a very young age, His development would of been similar no matter what he did i bet.

We all know those genetic freaks who walk into a gym and bench your max first set.

[quote]Pj92x wrote:

I like 5/3/1 and I do it and on the new periodisation template I am doing I am hoping to gain some mass and look better swell as get a bit stronger every month. But unless syou are prioritising or seeking at least a half strength half size gain why do 5/3/1 ? Why not just do 8-12 reps, eat a lot and gain mass much faster?[/quote]

I think it’s different for everyone.

I only ever managed mediocre results on a higher rep BB split. I plateaued quickly at an embarrassingly small weight and the best physique I ever managed to achieve would best be described as “toned”.

Conversely, on basic strength programs like SS and 5/3/1 I’ve continually smashed through barriers and put on muscle mass at a rate I didn’t think was possible.

And ironically, now that I have a better strength base the higher rep work seems to have started producing better results. My theory is that I can now do higher reps with heavy enough weights to stress the body in ways I couldn’t manage before.

Anyway, that was my experience.

[quote]some_dude wrote:

[quote]Pj92x wrote:

I like 5/3/1 and I do it and on the new periodisation template I am doing I am hoping to gain some mass and look better swell as get a bit stronger every month. But unless syou are prioritising or seeking at least a half strength half size gain why do 5/3/1 ? Why not just do 8-12 reps, eat a lot and gain mass much faster?[/quote]

I think it’s different for everyone.

I only ever managed mediocre results on a higher rep BB split. I plateaued quickly at an embarrassingly small weight and the best physique I ever managed to achieve would best be described as “toned”.

Conversely, on basic strength programs like SS and 5/3/1 I’ve continually smashed through barriers and put on muscle mass at a rate I didn’t think was possible.

And ironically, now that I have a better strength base the higher rep work seems to have started producing better results. My theory is that I can now do higher reps with heavy enough weights to stress the body in ways I couldn’t manage before.

Anyway, that was my experience. [/quote]

Interesting. I used to like mike metzners idea that we are all the same so what works for one of us works for all of us, but now as I train more and talk to more people who also train, it seems peoples bodies for some reason really do react differently to things, whci seems weird if we are biologically all near enough the same.


I liked that as a good progression for mass for higher volume.

[quote]Pj92x wrote:

Interesting. I used to like mike metzners idea that we are all the same so what works for one of us works for all of us, but now as I train more and talk to more people who also train, it seems peoples bodies for some reason really do react differently to things, whci seems weird if we are biologically all near enough the same.[/quote]

It could also be that we’re all in different parts of the training spectrum.

You mentioned that you had a lot of muscle atrophy following a car accident, which you probably exacerbated by running and eating rabbit food to loose weight.

My opinion of SS is that it works primarily by training the body’s ability to control itself, and that while there is some muscle growth the majority of the strength gains come from the body learning to efficiently use what it already has. So, in your case you peaked with what you had and the only way to really progress was to grow more muscle.

For most lifters that want to maintain progression this seems to be the way of life… alternating between periods of focusing on strength and periods of focusing on size. When one method starts to top out shift gears and keep the rig moving forward.

[quote]some_dude wrote:

[quote]Pj92x wrote:

Interesting. I used to like mike metzners idea that we are all the same so what works for one of us works for all of us, but now as I train more and talk to more people who also train, it seems peoples bodies for some reason really do react differently to things, whci seems weird if we are biologically all near enough the same.[/quote]

It could also be that we’re all in different parts of the training spectrum.

You mentioned that you had a lot of muscle atrophy following a car accident, which you probably exacerbated by running and eating rabbit food to loose weight.

My opinion of SS is that it works primarily by training the body’s ability to control itself, and that while there is some muscle growth the majority of the strength gains come from the body learning to efficiently use what it already has. So, in your case you peaked with what you had and the only way to really progress was to grow more muscle.

For most lifters that want to maintain progression this seems to be the way of life… alternating between periods of focusing on strength and periods of focusing on size. When one method starts to top out shift gears and keep the rig moving forward.[/quote]

That actually does makes quite a lot of sense.

I can’t believe there is a debate that adding a strength quality to a long term training regime is worth the effort.

Further , turn that 3x5 to 7x4 or 10x3 and you turn that strength training into a hypertrophy one as well. Only thing is that is a 3 day split is prefered with a loading parameter like that.

I think it is infinitely better for a beginner to start out on focusing on strength progression on compound lifts than it is for them to start out focusing on hypertrophy through leg presses and cable flyes. The rep range can always be tinkered with.

I would argue that their strength did not evaporate at all. They just lacked endurance, which can be improved upon very quickly. Much quicker than improving strength.

As to why an actual bber would do a strength program: I assume the stronger you are, the more weight you can put on the bar for the 6-8-12 rep range which would lead to more muscle.

I think the answer becomes obvious from reading some of the OPs posts… 250x5?, 180 for reps? 500lbs impossible naturally?

OP is weak as shit and will change his views after he has logged more than a couple months training.

This: ?The problem with many hypertrophy-based programs is that they leave out the strength component. You might get bigger as a result of the program, but if you don?t get any stronger you?re still a chump in my book.

That?s right, I don?t care how big you are, if you aren?t strong you?re a sham. Having big muscles and no strength is the training equivalent of wearing a strap-on. All show and no go. End of story.?- Jim Wendler

[quote]Jens.D wrote:
This: ?The problem with many hypertrophy-based programs is that they leave out the strength component. You might get bigger as a result of the program, but if you don?t get any stronger you?re still a chump in my book.

That?s right, I don?t care how big you are, if you aren?t strong you?re a sham. Having big muscles and no strength is the training equivalent of wearing a strap-on. All show and no go. End of story.?- Jim Wendler

[/quote]

I have never seen anyone who is muscularly very big and weak. Weak as compared to elite powerlifters? Very possible. Weak compared to the general population or most on this board? Fuck no.