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  • Ensuring growth without strength gain?

    I've noticed a lot of bodybuilders claim that they don't focus just on strength, but on good solid reps to ensure growth. Now something I also notice though is that every single bodybuilder I've seen say this who was big has at some point lifted very heavy and now less heavy. A good example is Skip in his Longevity DVD. Jay Cutler and many others say the same.

    In the past though I've noticed a direct correlation between my strength and size. My bench and deadlift and squat are the biggest they've ever been and my chest, back and legs are too. When I look back at journals and see my strength at the same levels my size was about the same as well. And I know when I'm benching another 50lb and deadlifting another 100lb for reps my chest and back will be bigger.

    However as mentioned it seems this does not last forever, especially as one gets older. But with strength I can easily quantify my gains and in the past doing "bodybuilder routines" I made newb gains but couldn't quantify gains later on. So later in ones lifting career how do you know you're really making progress without getting stronger. AND if you, for example, start lifting like that just trying to feel the muscle but after bulking up this way and cutting back down are the same strength and size what do you change to fix this?

  • #2
    You have to take into account that, when guys aren't trying for strength progression, they are usually implementing techniques to heighten intensity in another way (think pre-exhausting, drop sets, super sets, giant sets, negatives etc.). So, they are training there bodies to adapt to a new stimulus and not heavier weights.

    What I am trying to say is, you usually don't see too many guys trying to break PR's on deadlifts for 5-6 reps, then go and bang out a supersetted set of chins along with it or whatever.

    Also, guys like Jay Cutlet can look at weights and grow...and there is also the supplementation side of things that also play a big role when you get to a very high level of development...

    I hope I read your question the right way, LOL.

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    • #3
      Originally posted by Lock it Up View Post
      You have to take into account that, when guys aren't trying for strength progression, they are usually implementing techniques to heighten intensity in another way (think pre-exhausting, drop sets, super sets, giant sets, negatives etc.). So, they are training there bodies to adapt to a new stimulus and not heavier weights.
      Well, I wouldn't say they usually implement them. I certainly see them put in there but even when they do how do you ensure your progressing if you keep the same superset for a few weeks. I used to do a lot of supersets and I was way smaller than I am now, and not surprisingly I was way weaker. Basically, when you go in the gym how do you quantify that what you're doing is going to ensure growth and if you go a year bulking up thinking you're making progress but when you cut down you're at the same point how do you know what to change. Some people say time training will do it but I look at my notes from last year and every muscle thats bigger is stronger (basically those involved with the main lifts), my arms are the same size and pretty much the same strength.

      Also, guys like Jay Cutlet can look at weights and grow...and there is also the supplementation side of things that also play a big role when you get to a very high level of development...
      Sure but thats the same principle to a higher degree. Skip has said the same thing as have a LOT of bodybuilders I've read about. All were lifting way more in the past but are now bigger than ever just focusing on the muscle, as they say. It just seems like that's an easy way to go nowhere year after year. But clearly for a good deal of them it works (although many naturals I see do look the same year after year)

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      • #4
        ALL lifters try to get stronger. I don't care what anyone says. It is true.

        The difference?
        Bodybuilders train for the bodypart.
        Powerlifters train for the movement.

        Shift your training to get the muscle stronger(not the movement) and you will be on the right track.
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        • #5
          I think John Meadows would have some great input on this topic.

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          • #6
            Originally posted by kroxic View Post
            ALL lifters try to get stronger. I don't care what anyone says. It is true.

            The difference?
            Bodybuilders train for the bodypart.
            Powerlifters train for the movement.

            Shift your training to get the muscle stronger(not the movement) and you will be on the right track.
            Thats basically what I would think would work. As I get older I would think maybe I'll take out some of the more intensive lifts (maybe) and focus more on squeezing/tempo/etc while still trying to lift more than in the past but at the same time I often see older natural bodybuilders pushing half the weight I do (and that they did) and most likely keeping that weight all the time. E.g. curling 30lb dumbbells with 18in arms as opposed to me using 60's with 16in arms. Its still hard for them of course because of whatever set up they're doing, I get that, but then what are they doing a year from that and then another year from that to ensure progress. Even being relatively new to training (a couple years in) I didn't move anywhere for about 2 years. I trained my ass off and ate well but between the gaining then cutting I was at the same spot, and not surprisingly had the same strength. Now I'm the biggest I've been and the strongest. No focus on crazy rest times or techniques, just lifting heavier for reps.

            Originally posted by FRANK_KOVACIC View Post
            I think John Meadows would have some great input on this topic.
            I agree, he seems very into intensity techniques

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            • #7
              Originally posted by Pumped340 View Post
              I've noticed a lot of bodybuilders claim that they don't focus just on strength, but on good solid reps to ensure growth. Now something I also notice though is that every single bodybuilder I've seen say this who was big has at some point lifted very heavy and now less heavy. A good example is Skip in his Longevity DVD. Jay Cutler and many others say the same.

              In the past though I've noticed a direct correlation between my strength and size. My bench and deadlift and squat are the biggest they've ever been and my chest, back and legs are too. When I look back at journals and see my strength at the same levels my size was about the same as well. And I know when I'm benching another 50lb and deadlifting another 100lb for reps my chest and back will be bigger.

              However as mentioned it seems this does not last forever, especially as one gets older. But with strength I can easily quantify my gains and in the past doing "bodybuilder routines" I made newb gains but couldn't quantify gains later on.
              Originally posted by Pumped340 View Post
              Even being relatively new to training (a couple years in) I didn't move anywhere for about 2 years. I trained my ass off and ate well but between the gaining then cutting I was at the same spot, and not surprisingly had the same strength. Now I'm the biggest I've been and the strongest. No focus on crazy rest times or techniques, just lifting heavier for reps.

              Pumped,

              Could you clarify your pattern of gains?... This might help elucidate your confusion.

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              • #8
                Sure,

                I started 4-5 years ago at 160. First year I gained about 30lb up to 190 and obviously got a lot stronger considering I was so new. After that I continued and went between 180 and 200 for about 2 years, bulking and thinking I was making some gains but always gaining way way more fat than I wanted and then cutting and ending up around the same place. I changed routines/exercises to really quantify any progress (and this ties in with what I'm talking about....these guys who go in and do different exercises all the time how do they even know they're progressing). Multiple different splits and whatnot. About 1.5-2 years ago I don't know if it was age or what but progress starting coming again with measurable growth and strength gains. Even these last 1.5-2 years with a cut thrown in I went back further then I would have liked but still make some decent progress and literally measurements and lean weight was pretty much directly correlated to my strength.

                Honestly I can't even explain the difference in results that much. Even when I wasn't gaining much strength in the prior 2 years I was still pushing myself as hard as ever and seeming to make strength gains (until I went back to another exercise, etc.), the training really wasn't that different which makes me think maybe it was age. Now I've been gaining strength better than ever but thats on a routine I started 4-5 months ago, before that I tried a bunch of different things. Anyway point being the results came when strength was going up and no other time really. I feel like if I decided to say fuck it and not care about strength anymore but just "feeling the muscle" and not going up in weight much I wouldn't make progress. Oh and I recently hit 215 at the same leanness I was 200 before. Still not big but the best I've had. Cutting now :p but doing so much better than before


                Edit: I'm 100% natural, my previously natural friends just starting taking PH's and are shooting past me in size....sucks lol. I'm still stronger though
                Last edited by Pumped340; 05-29-2011, 09:48 PM.

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                • #9
                  You state that you have jumped around a bit routine wise. Maybe you could quantify your gains a bit better if you stuck to one routine for a year or two and ran it till the wheels fell off....sometimes it gets harder to actually SEE your progress if too many things are changed, or changed prematurely....
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                  • #10
                    Originally posted by steel1970 View Post
                    You state that you have jumped around a bit routine wise. Maybe you could quantify your gains a bit better if you stuck to one routine for a year or two and ran it till the wheels fell off....sometimes it gets harder to actually SEE your progress if too many things are changed, or changed prematurely....
                    I appreciate the input but my intent wasn't to make this a thread about me, I only pointed out my situation as a further example.

                    I just mean for those of you who are lifting lighter weights consistently then you were in the past how are you ensuring you still grow? If Skip chimes in that would be great because I know he used to lift heavier but really for anyone who falls in that category. And if one tries using lighter weight and after say a year they are not as big as when they were lifting heavier weight, or no bigger, what do you do? Or is that when you accept that you won't be getting much if any bigger (although I doubt this is the answer).

                    2 other examples of this from guys I know are natural are Tom Venuto: http://www.google.com/search?hl=en&c...w=1440&bih=655
                    and this guy Stu: http://www.muscleandstrength.com/art...in-part-1.html both lift considerably lighter than in the past and I know stu at least has been competing ~5lb heavier each time for the last 2-3 competitions he's done (all of them basically, just started competing recently). Nothing crazy but at that stage for a natural 20 years into lifting its not bad for a competition weight at all.

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                    • #11
                      I gotcha...I am getting older, but I am still trying to get stronger. I also pay attention to form, and like others have said in the past, if my form at a certain weight gets better, I too consider that progress...sorry though, I haven't gotten to the point where I just wanna coast with the weights being used...
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                      • #12
                        Originally posted by steel1970 View Post
                        I gotcha...I am getting older, but I am still trying to get stronger. I also pay attention to form, and like others have said in the past, if my form at a certain weight gets better, I too consider that progress...sorry though, I haven't gotten to the point where I just wanna coast with the weights being used...
                        OK thats what I feel like I'd be doing with my training as well in the future, just seems like many do as I mentioned earlier.

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                        • #13
                          Just quickly chiming in here,

                          OP I know what you're getting at.

                          I personally have had success with both "feeling the muscle" phases and "getting stronger" phases. I think they both complement each other, but if you ignore one or the other, you'll eventually plateau. E.g. neglect "feeling the muscle" and you'll end up strong but with unaesthetic muscles - like the common lack of upper chest due to only focusing more on moving the weight and neglecting to feel the clavicular portion of the pecs working

                          I think trying to do both at the same time is also possible and is pretty common amongst bodybuilders... e.g. a few heavy sets then a few burn out sets...

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                          • #14
                            Originally posted by akkxn View Post
                            Just quickly chiming in here,

                            OP I know what you're getting at.

                            I personally have had success with both "feeling the muscle" phases and "getting stronger" phases. I think they both complement each other, but if you ignore one or the other, you'll eventually plateau. E.g. neglect "feeling the muscle" and you'll end up strong but with unaesthetic muscles - like the common lack of upper chest due to only focusing more on moving the weight and neglecting to feel the clavicular portion of the pecs working

                            I think trying to do both at the same time is also possible and is pretty common amongst bodybuilders... e.g. a few heavy sets then a few burn out sets...
                            Yea I get what you're saying. Personally I feel like I should have made considerably more size gains considering the strength gains I've made. I am definitely bigger the stronger I am, but I have friends considerably bigger than me who are the same strength or weaker.

                            Maybe part of it is just trying to get stronger but making the exercises harder so less weight can be used. E.g. doing bench after supersetting flyes and DB press so less weight has to be used, but still trying hard to go up for that exercise selection/order. As some bodybuilders mentioned "making x pounds feel like 2x pounds". Still though its just hard for me to quantify that. I've had plenty of times where I switched to a certain order/exercise that I could use less weight on and pushed myself hard, but a lot of the gains came from getting better at it. E.g. if you bench 315 then go to benching 225 after flyes and get to 275 after flyes I don't think it's likely you'd be benching 365 fresh, part of the strength gains (if not most) likely came from getting used to that order.

                            maybe I'll just cross that bridge when I come to it, but as always I'm interested if anyone wants to put in their own experience with something like this

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                            • #15
                              I'm not expert at this but what I think happens is that you have to take into account the individuality factor here. All of those successful bodybuilders out there that you've seen doing lighter weights maybe found out that, this type of training really hit the spot for them, even though they tried heavy lifting before. If you take a look at other guys like Ronnie Coleman, Dave Henry, and all the big guys on this forums that live by DC or something similar, you'll notice that none of them really go light and they are at a stage where they have amounted a very high quantity of muscle. I personally believe successful bodybuilder have gotten to where they are at by doing what works for them, be it lighter weights with super set, drop sets, pyramids, etc or heavy ass weights with low reps. You obviously respond better to the latter, maybe the problem is not your training but your nutrition that's preventing further growth.

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