Mr. Strength and Mrs. Size the old forgotten marriage

In the post internet training world the recreational lifter who has aesthetic goals or other aims that are not based on strength for strength’s sake has been led up the garden path fairly spectacularly by the multitude of bro science and internet personal trainer’s vomiting misinformation and hype into the heaping vat of bile known as the internet.  

Everything from the bizarre world of force spectrum ramping and protein pulsing has lead to a new generation of bodybuilding ninja’s that would put Mike Metzger and his vast army of HIT jedi’s to shame.  Somewhere between weight training becoming the supplement industry’s bitch and people selling basic information for a profit things have gotten royally screwed up.

I will now draw your attention to muscle hypertrophy 101 cross sectional area and force production.

Bigger muscles have the potential to produce more force now there are extenuating factors to this but in the interest of brevity we will accept this relationship at face value.

So if your goal is to get bigger in certain parts of your body, charting your strength in the lift’s you use to develop these body parts would seem to be a reasonable idea to me.  I can almost guarantee that if you train using a reasonable volume of work and get stronger week on week in the exercises you use that you will grow.

This simple concept is all you need to underpin bodybuilding training (outside of conditioning obviously).  When you realise that your body fat levels are what make you look ripped or toned and then further realise that this is almost 100% controlled by your diet trainning becomes pretty straight forward.

The common quoted observation that bodybuilders appear bigger than other strength athletes is in lieu of the fact that bodybuilders train their muscles in many movements and angles and thus hypertrophy a much larger percentage of muscle fibres. 

Muscle hypertrophy has been shown to be movement specific, thus the anecdotal evidence of training different angles to develop diffrent parts of the musclehas merit.

This does not negate the fact that you must progress in strength with in these parameters to get bigger.

The real reasons novel training approaches exist.

When you reach a stage where you can’t really progress in strength you have come to the end of your life as a person who can naturally progress size wise at any appreciable level.  When your a bodybuilder or someone who’s goals are size related this leaves you in somewhat of a dilemma. 

The 12 tone purple (and now blue) elephant in the room is good old Vitamin S.  When high level bodybuilders start on the good stuff they will see huge gains in size and strength this however has a limited lifespan and before you know it your back to spinning your wheels and using all kinds of insane drugs and whacky training approaches to gain very small amounts of lean mass.

Low and behold what filters down to you the recreational lifter is the top end stuff that bodybuilders do to not progress and not get bored.

On the flip side of the coin you have people who are looking to sell you a service or a product.  It would make sense if you made money from these activities to stand out in the crowd and low and behold crazy ass routines and powders are born.

The common thread underlying all of these things… one thing has been proven to work for thousands of years Milo knew it, Arnold knew it and you better believe that big Ron Coleman knew it.  Progressive programmes when added to effort will give you all the size gains your likely to ever want.


It’s not sexy and it’s not clever but if your goals lie in the realm of how you look you still need to pay attention to your strength, you still need to make workout progressively harder by adding reps and weight to the bar, you still need to eat in accordance with your goals and no amount of reading nonsense or taking magical pills and powders is ever going to change this fact.