What separates strength from growth?
Remember the last time you went to your local gym, before the world ended, and saw that huge bodybuilder dude or that shredded fit chick?
Our first thoughts when we see this type of specimen is usually that they must be strong too.
So you stealthily follow this humanoid through the gym, keeping enough distance to not raise suspicion, never to see a heavy weight lifted the entire workout.
That same day you’re scrolling the gram and you stop to see some unassuming person putting up huge weights with powerlifting, weightlifting, or strongman movements.
Don’t let these all too common experiences shatter your self esteem.
While there is a general relationship between muscle size and strength, it’s not consistent and it’s not always clear.
Big doesn’t always equal strong and strong doesn’t always equal big.
I trained with a laser focus to get strong over the last 8 years and now I’m shifting gears to focus on getting bigger.
I’ve learned a lot about the difference from training for strength and size and this is what it comes down to.
Training for strength means lifting the target weight, comes hell or high water. It means finding the most efficient, least energy demanding, less challenging way to move the weight from point A to point B.
Scores, prizes, and your purpose are all wrapped into that number on the bar.
Growth, on the other hand, is agnostic of weight. It’s all about tension and stressing the target muscle.
Most of the training literature, including a recent paper out of Brad Schoenfeld's lab have failed to show significant differences in muscle growth between heavy and light weighted programs.
What really matters is that the muscle you want to grow is working really hard. That can be done through deep, focused contractions against a resistance that you can move without compensating.
When you train only for strength, you learn to make heavy weights feel as light as possible. You train to make an objectively heavy weight feel subjectively lighter.
When you train for growth, you learn to make light weights feel as heavy as possible: to make an objectively light weight feel subjectively heavier.
When you train for strength, you focus on training the motion and when you train for growth you focus on challenging the muscle.
Those are the most important differences.
While there is a lot of overlap between size and strength - a complete HYBRID training program has both training for strength and training for growth - the underlying intention when training for a specific goal should be different.
Rather than simply following a pattern of reps and sets, master the intention behind your training to make the first and perhaps the biggest step towards your goals.
Hope this made sense and I’ll catch you guys next time!