Question of the Week: Size vs. Strength Training
Our expert explains how the two training styles differ and what that means for your workout plan.
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When it comes to adding strength, the most effective way would come through making the “base” of your exercise routine consist of larger movements. The compound style exercises like squatting, deadlifting and bench pressing are great choices to allow the body to recruit many muscle fibers in one shot. That total body exertion, especially under heavy loads, encourages greater hormone release and trains fast twitch fibers to be more responsive and fire harder. These are keys to gaining strength. Here’s where things differ. Because of the large impact on the hormones, the heavy lifting, and the compound movements, generally speaking, strength training will have a greater impact on the central nervous system. It really takes a beating with repeated maximal efforts, so rest time between sets, and between training days as a whole needs to be closely monitored so as to avoid adverse effects.
Here’s the cool part: With size comes strength. If you ever wondered why powerlifters are all so large and typically carry an appreciable layer of body fat, you’ve now learned the answer. The larger the surface area of the unit, the more force that unit will be able to apply against a resistance. Those big guys wouldn’t be able to bench 700 if they only weighed 175. Applying this, building muscle and gaining strength can go hand in hand if you train smart. If you’re an intermediate lifter who wants to break a strength plateau, the answer may be to add some more size first. Be careful, however, and make strength training your goal if a basic foundation is what you’re lacking.
About the Trainer: Lee Boyce
Lee Boyce, CPT is a strength coach based in Toronto, ON. A former Kinesiology Major, Lee competed as a sprinter and long jumper at the National level. His work has been featured in many major magazines including Men's Health, Musclemag, TNATION, and also on national television. For more on Lee, check him out at leeboycetraining.com, @coachleeboyce and Facebook.