Let’s talk about getting stronger.
Or better yet, let’s talk about the difference between getting stronger and getting bigger.
Because there is a difference.
Strong muscles and big muscles are not the same thing.
It’s easy to think of them that way. And there are similarities between the two. But they’re not the same.
Bigger muscles are probably stronger than smaller ones. But not necessarily.
Need proof? Watch this 105lb female American weightlifter put 211lbs over her head. That’s double bodyweight.
Is she big? No. Strong? You bet.
Muscle size and muscle strength are thought of in the same way. Yet they’re actually two different things.
Strength is the ability to activate muscle fibers. It’s the measurement of the contractile force of a muscle.
And muscle size relates to the actual size of the muscle fibers.
So, big muscles are great. Unless they aren’t great at activating the muscle fibers. Then they’re all show. (Ever heard of “all show and no go”? Yep, that’s this.)
And small muscles can be just as powerful. IF they’re more efficient at activating the muscle fibers. (Remember the 115lb weightlifter?)
The trick is knowing which one you’re really after. And creating the right training strategy from there.
So which one is it, bigger or stronger?
Do you want bigger muscles? Or stronger muscles?
Getting bigger is about increasing the size of the muscle fiber. And you do that by creating as much muscle damage as possible. The healing process will grow the muscle bigger than before.
Think like a bodybuilder. That means isolation movements. Lots of reps. And short rest periods.
Anything to feel the burn.
Getting stronger is the opposite.
Getting stronger is about recruiting more muscle fibers. And how do you do that?
Think like a powerlifter.
Heavy a** weights. Long rest periods. And lots of intensity.
You don’t want to feel the burn. You want to feel like your eyes are popping out of your head. You want that level of intensity.
That means back squats. Deadlifts. Shoulder presses. Barbell rows. Box squats. Power cleans. Sprinting. Anything that requires all-out effort for short periods.
That’s strength training.
Each goal has a different approach. Strength training relies on weight and intensity. And training for size is all about volume.
Knowing the difference between the two can save you years of time, energy, and effort.
Instead of wasting your time at the gym, you can direct your energy in the right direction.
So the next time you go into the gym ask yourself, is this a strength day or a size day?
Then, plan your training the right way.
Sign up to receive more helpful information like this!