Get Strong to Get Big

All of us started out in the gym with a goal. Some goals are different than others, but mine, along with thousands of others, was to get big. I thought that if only I could add some muscle, I would get more respect, I would be viewed as more attractive, or that it was the key to gaining more confidence. I am not alone; this mistake is made among those getting into fitness day in and day out. Our goal and drive to get bigger gives us one directional thinking, easily being swayed to listen to one expert or another. Most of these experts we listen to are either drugged out of their minds or just out to sell some supplement.


Almost always, the advice is the same. Volume. Train for the pump. Use high reps and high volume.

Yes, this may work for some people, but I know what will work for everyone. Combine strength training with hypertrophy (volume) training.

I 100% agree that volume is necessary to build muscle, and the longer our training history is, the more volume we can handle. However, If I use the baby weights every workout, the stimulus just is not strong enough to promote consistent growth over years of training. Not only that, but we will not achieve a strong enough stimulus for our tendons to become stronger and more resistant to injury. If you have weak tendons, your body will not allow you to use all the strength it has. Something called a Golgi Tendon Organ will sense the strain is getting too high for the tendon to handle and limit the amount of force created by the muscle.

Not only are your tendons affected by purely training for volume and hypertrophy, but the amount of volume per set of an exercise will be affected. Someone who strength trains will be stronger than someone who only trains for hypertrophy. Let us say Jeff trains for strength and has a max bench press of 315 pounds, and Chad trains hypertrophy and has a max bench press of 225 pounds. Id be willing to bet that Jeff could easily do 4 sets of 12 on bench press with 225 pounds. That is 2,700 pounds per set, and 10,800 pounds after 4 sets of the exercise. Chad could probably handle 180 pounds for 4 sets of 12. Resulting in Chad lifting 2,160 pounds per set and 8,640 pounds after 4 sets of the exercise. Jeff completed way more volume and would have a higher stimulus for muscle gain.

Now I am not saying you need to train for strength exclusively, you just need to train it. Instead of staying on one long hypertrophy cycle forever, add in a 4- or 6-week strength cycle. Not only will it be good for your gains, but it will improve your tendon strength and bone strength as well. Not to mention the alpha feeling of moving big boy (or girl) weight.


If you consistently train for size, add more strength cycles to give you bumps in strength, and eat properly, you WILL get bigger. Its only a matter of time.


Chris Still

BS Exercise Science

CSCS, USAW-L1SP

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