Strength Gains vs. Size Gains

13

Replies

  • happysummerrunner
    happysummerrunner Posts: 66 Member
    Thanks for the replies you 2. Very interesting!
  • Fithealthyforlife
    Fithealthyforlife Posts: 866 Member
    AS stated by a previous poster, initial gains come mostly neuromuscular adaptation. Really strong people have the ability to recruit many more muscle fibers per contraction than a normal person. And as stated you get to a point where you have to get bigger to get stronger but you can gain lots of strength initially without mass gains.

    What about increased muscle definition- is that from mass gains? Or can you get increased muscle definition w/o mass gain?

    I find this interesting. I just started lifting in January and I'm seeing huge increases in how much I can lift- but no muscle definition yet. (I'm also overweight sooo..... that affects being able to see muscle definition I guess).

    Muscle definition is attributable to shedding the fat that is covering up the muscle. There are huge power lifters who have little to know actual definition because, while they have a lot of muscle, they are not lean and have a lot of fat also. Definition comes from reduction of BF.

    It's more than just fat reduction. If you don't have the muscles in the first place, they won't show. For example, I've never had abs, but am just starting to get them now, due to compound lifts and a bulking diet. And if anything I've gained fat in that area.

    Just wanted to point this out.

    (Figure of speech, btw...of course I had abs before...just not developed enough to be visible.)
  • steve0820
    steve0820 Posts: 510 Member
    See this video:

    That is a 554 lb deadlift by a woman who weighs 150 lbs. I wouldn't say she is bulky or "big." But, you may have a different opinion.


    I'd like to add Richard Hawthorne, deadlifts 639.4lbs @ 131#

  • jayche
    jayche Posts: 1,128 Member
    Everybody's different.
  • yogicarl
    yogicarl Posts: 1,272 Member
    Not particularly big in size, but unquestionably strong.

    Credit to Mark Gonzales, Yoga and Progressive Bodyweight:

    https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?v=10152283598018606&set=vb.631873605&type=2&theater
  • Mrsallypants
    Mrsallypants Posts: 887 Member
    AS stated by a previous poster, initial gains come mostly neuromuscular adaptation. Really strong people have the ability to recruit many more muscle fibers per contraction than a normal person. And as stated you get to a point where you have to get bigger to get stronger but you can gain lots of strength initially without mass gains.

    What about increased muscle definition- is that from mass gains? Or can you get increased muscle definition w/o mass gain?

    I find this interesting. I just started lifting in January and I'm seeing huge increases in how much I can lift- but no muscle definition yet. (I'm also overweight sooo..... that affects being able to see muscle definition I guess).

    Muscle definition is attributable to shedding the fat that is covering up the muscle. There are huge power lifters who have little to know actual definition because, while they have a lot of muscle, they are not lean and have a lot of fat also. Definition comes from reduction of BF.

    It's more than just fat reduction. If you don't have the muscles in the first place, they won't show. For example, I've never had abs, but am just starting to get them now, due to compound lifts and a bulking diet. And if anything I've gained fat in that area.

    Just wanted to point this out.

    (Figure of speech, btw...of course I had abs before...just not developed enough to be visible.)

    I guess that explains why anorexics don't have six packs.
  • 212019156
    212019156 Posts: 341 Member
    Muscle definition is just about losing fat. You can get muscle definition without mass gains, but you will probably look better if there is some mass under the fat that you would lose.

    AS stated by a previous poster, initial gains come mostly neuromuscular adaptation. Really strong people have the ability to recruit many more muscle fibers per contraction than a normal person. And as stated you get to a point where you have to get bigger to get stronger but you can gain lots of strength initially without mass gains.

    What about increased muscle definition- is that from mass gains? Or can you get increased muscle definition w/o mass gain?

    I find this interesting. I just started lifting in January and I'm seeing huge increases in how much I can lift- but no muscle definition yet. (I'm also overweight sooo..... that affects being able to see muscle definition I guess).
  • JoRocka
    JoRocka Posts: 17,553 Member
    Nothing like seeing someone with 12-inch-upper-arms bench over 300lbs or someone at a bodyweight of 160lbs squat nearly 800 pounds. I've seen many small guys out lift huge bodybuilders.

    It really is a perplexing subject. Maybe some people gain muscle easier than gaining strength, and others gain strength much easier than muscle. I would say genetics, hormones, and the type of training have the most impact.

    What type of training leads to gaining strength and what type to size gains? I wonder which one I'm doing. I'm just lifting dumbbells. And doing planks.

    diet makes up a large portion of this.

    If you are lifting 8-10 and NOT on a surplus- you will be getting stronger- not the same level of stronger as 1-5 range lifting- but if you do not have the surplus- you aren't going to get size.
    Muscle definition is just about losing fat. You can get muscle definition without mass gains, but you will probably look better if there is some mass under the fat that you would lose.

    to a point- if the muscle you have is practically unused- and not dense- it's just not going to look good- no matter how little body fat you have.
  • WendyTerry420
    WendyTerry420 Posts: 13,278 Member
    1-6 reps is considered strength

    8-12 is for muscle growth …

    I have no idea what seven will do …

    my numbers on this may be slightly off...

    Seven reps does nothing. It only makes you want to eat sammiches.
  • SteveJWatson
    SteveJWatson Posts: 1,228 Member
    Nothing like seeing someone with 12-inch-upper-arms bench over 300lbs or someone at a bodyweight of 160lbs squat nearly 800 pounds. I've seen many small guys out lift huge bodybuilders.

    It really is a perplexing subject. Maybe some people gain muscle easier than gaining strength, and others gain strength much easier than muscle. I would say genetics, hormones, and the type of training have the most impact.

    What type of training leads to gaining strength and what type to size gains? I wonder which one I'm doing. I'm just lifting dumbbells. And doing planks.

    1-6 reps is considered strength

    8-12 is for muscle growth …

    I have no idea what seven will do …

    my numbers on this may be slightly off...

    Biology doesn't work in absolutes anyway,

    1-6 reps = strength gains over hypertrophy - you would find hypertrophy increasing until at somewhere around 8 reps it is predominant although strength gains will still be occuring...both will continue to decrease towards 12 reps where endurance will take over, but they will still happen. I wish I could draw a graph on here, would kind of make it easier to understand
  • mank32
    mank32 Posts: 1,405 Member
    tagged for study
  • AshwinA7
    AshwinA7 Posts: 102 Member
    Thanks for all the replies! Tagged this one for future study.

    Was hoping to find more specific studies that have been done on different styles of lifting, diet, etc. and how that effects strength vs. size. Clearly, there are a lot of people out there who are not very big but can lift an immense amount of weight. Would be interesting to know why thats possible.
  • CrusaderSam
    CrusaderSam Posts: 180 Member
    Let me try this one more time. When ever you lift a weight, you need to do a movement to lift it.

    All movements are skills, that need to be learned just like anything else.

    With more skill you can move more weight.

    Keep in mind skill doesn't equal strength.

    So sometimes people moving less weight need to be stronger to make up for the lack of skill. Size and strength go hand and hand but not skill, you can get better at doing something without getting bigger or stronger.
  • trojan_bb
    trojan_bb Posts: 699 Member
    Progressive overload (strength gains over time, or increases in intensity and/or voume/work done) + CALORIC SURPLUS + a strong hormonal base = mass gains.


    It's the change over time that dictates mass gains. A guy that benches 290 his first year and 10 years later is benching 350 will make some size gains. The guy benching 125 his first year and 300 10 years later will likely grow more. Many guys are naturally strong for various reasons, independent of muscle mass.

    You can also gain strength pretty easily while eating at maintenance or a deficit, with a good workout routine and intelligent diet, supplementation, etc. Not many size gains under this scenario though.

    Regarding workout routines for strength vs size. For size gains, pretty much ANY workout routine (under like 30-50 reps per set) will increase size over time as long as total work done increases and the calories and hormones are there. Strength is MUCH more specific. There's a few ways to train for strength, usually using low reps and/or power work.
  • _TastySnoBalls_
    _TastySnoBalls_ Posts: 1,328 Member
    in
  • I feel like I've gained strength and not mass but changed shape...
  • DopeItUp
    DopeItUp Posts: 18,772 Member
    Nothing like seeing someone with 12-inch-upper-arms bench over 300lbs or someone at a bodyweight of 160lbs squat nearly 800 pounds. I've seen many small guys out lift huge bodybuilders.

    It really is a perplexing subject. Maybe some people gain muscle easier than gaining strength, and others gain strength much easier than muscle. I would say genetics, hormones, and the type of training have the most impact.

    What type of training leads to gaining strength and what type to size gains? I wonder which one I'm doing. I'm just lifting dumbbells. And doing planks.

    1-6 reps is considered strength

    8-12 is for muscle growth …

    I have no idea what seven will do …

    my numbers on this may be slightly off...

    Doing 7 reps of any exercise is sort of like dividing by zero.
  • GymTennis
    GymTennis Posts: 133 Member

    I actually try to mix up and do both ..for few months I will work in 4-6 rep range and then change to 8-10 rep range...

    Good thinking.
  • GymTennis
    GymTennis Posts: 133 Member
    I find this interesting. I just started lifting in January and I'm seeing huge increases in how much I can lift- but no muscle definition yet. (I'm also overweight sooo..... that affects being able to see muscle definition I guess).

    Exactly so .. You need to drop body fat in order to see muscle definition..that's the only way
  • GymTennis
    GymTennis Posts: 133 Member

    are you stronger in the sense you can do more reps or in the sense you can do a heavier weight?


    because those aren't the same thing- doing more of a thing past a certain rep range doesn't make you 'stronger' in the traditional sense of the word. Doing more of a thing just means you can do it longer.

    Actually it does in a way.. It's still a form of progressive overload...If you increase the volume, more sets, more reps... If you do 4x5 on the bench press for example, and the following week you pull off 5x5 with the same weight, it means you got stronger..