Don't know whether to train for strength or for size? Watch

toonervoustotalk
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I am a 17 year old teen who weights 53kg and is 5'8. I am going to join my college gym in a few weeks time and I want to get a better physique as I am on the skinny side. I have never lifted before. I can only train for 1 hour per day and work out 3 days per week. And I want to do compound exercises.

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BKS
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Do strong lift 5x5 (google it). You don't need to worry about picking size or strength, get stronger and eat a surplus and you will get bigger
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Genocidal
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Train for both. Go for a powerlifting programme and eat more. You'll get bigger and stronger in time.
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yo radical one
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Size

Do sets of ten reps with the most weight for which you can maintain strict form, you will still get stronger and also improve endurance


I would say, "inb4 autists (aka powerlifters) who tell you strength", but it looks like I am a bit late.
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illusionz
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Basically rep ranges etc are irrelevant. The difference between training for size or strength is exercise selection.

As a beginner there is no point isolating your upper chest or rear delts etc. Everything is small. Do big compound lifts, increase the weight. You will get bigger and stronger.

Personally I find training for strength keeps the motivation up as you can see your progress from week to week. Training for looks means you take ages to see any progress.
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guezelkuecuek
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(Original post by yo radical one)
Size

Do sets of ten reps with the most weight for which you can maintain strict form, you will still get stronger and also improve endurance


I would say, "inb4 autists (aka powerlifters) who tell you strength", but it looks like I am a bit late.
This is outright false. An ideal rep range is different for each muscle group so applying the same uniform "10" is bull****. You also mention nothing about progeessive overload. Oh hes gonna be benching 40kg all his life for 10 reps with "strict form"

There is also no real distinction between training for strength or size. Google leangains ****arounditis for a better write up, but doing 10 reps of deadlifts is wasting everybodies time.
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MindTheGaps
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The premise of your question is wrong.

For a beginner, especially a teenager, strength and size are directly correlated. Don't think about training one without the other, it's meaningless for you. You cannot gain strength without gaining size, and you cannot gain size without gaining strength. After all, that is what muscle is for.

Bodybuilding style size-routines are just that, for bodybuilders. They work for advanced, genetically elite athletes on steroids, who are already pretty damn strong. They do not work for beginners. If you want to be big, you need to lift some heavy weight!

But seriously, a programme (such as Starting Strength, Stronglifts or WS4SB) which focuses on linear progression will lead to reliable gains in size. 1 hour three times a week is perfect for these, and they only include compounds (the only exercises worth their salt).
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TooEasy123
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(Original post by guezelkuecuek)
This is outright false. An ideal rep range is different for each muscle group so applying the same uniform "10" is bull****. You also mention nothing about progeessive overload. Oh hes gonna be benching 40kg all his life for 10 reps with "strict form"

There is also no real distinction between training for strength or size. Google leangains ****arounditis for a better write up, but doing 10 reps of deadlifts is wasting everybodies time.
There is a big distinction. With the same diet someone could train high frequency, heavy singles several times a week and gain a **** load of strength with basically zero size gain; conversely if that same person trained with a generally higher rep range (relative to the exercise obviously - no one is doing 10 reps for everything or high rep deadlifts, unless they do crossfit...) whilst still focusing on progressive overload, they'd gain a lot less strength overall but most definitely more size. The difference in strength/size would probably be considerable even after as little as 9-12 months.

Personally I see nothing wrong with 5x5, especially for beginners. It's a combination of strength and size. But when people who progress beyond this stage move powerlifting/maximal strength training with heavy triples or less start claiming that they're optimally building size and gaining just as much as they would with generally higher rep range training, as if you're going to build X muscle for every Y strength gain regardless of your style of training, that's complete bull****.
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illusionz
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(Original post by TooEasy123)
There is a big distinction. With the same diet someone could train high frequency, heavy singles several times a week and gain a **** load of strength with basically zero size gain; conversely if that same person trained with a generally higher rep range (relative to the exercise obviously - no one is doing 10 reps for everything or high rep deadlifts, unless they do crossfit...) whilst still focusing on progressive overload, they'd gain a lot less strength overall but most definitely more size. The difference in strength/size would probably be considerable even after as little as 9-12 months.

Personally I see nothing wrong with 5x5, especially for beginners. It's a combination of strength and size. But when people who progress beyond this stage move powerlifting/maximal strength training with heavy triples or less start claiming that they're optimally building size and gaining just as much as they would with generally higher rep range training, as if you're going to build X muscle for every Y strength gain regardless of your style of training, that's complete bull****.
So what do you say about the bodybuilders who do low rep high weight sets?

The reason powerlifters don't look like bodybuilders is because they don't choose to isolate their "lagging" muscles, not because they train for strength. Powerlifters don't care if their upper chest is small, or if their rear delts are disproportionately small. That is the sole reason they don't look like bodybuilders, because their exercise selection differs. The rep ranges have nothing to do with it.

The text in bold is completely wrong too.
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TooEasy123
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(Original post by illusionz)
The rep ranges have nothing to do with it.

The text in bold is completely wrong too.
The bit in bold is completely true. If not, then you're implying that, e.g., someone training heavy singles, avoiding fatigue, 5-7x a week is going to gain the same amount of muscle (or at least that there'd be an unnoticeable difference - that was what the guy said in that video) per increase in strength as someone who trains with moderate/higher rep ranges and more volume in general/overall. Are you saying this? If so that's far too simplified and just not how it works in reality.

In reality you can gains huge amounts of strength whilst minimising muscle gain, and this comes down to training methods. How you train will affect the outcome considerably. So much so that the difference would be noticeable in less than a year. And that's the key point - that there'd be a noticeable difference. That means that rep ranges have a lot to do with it, not "nothing to do with it".

Yes, genetics dictate how easily you build muscle or not, but there'll be certain training methods which minimise relative muscle gain for anybody (like the one described above).

In the past I've done exercises following the former method (a couple mins a day 5x a week), and gained lots of strength with no noticeable size gains, if any at all. Had I done it a more conventional way (e.g. 5x5, or generally higher reps), I would have absolutely, without a doubt, gained a lot more size.
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guezelkuecuek
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(Original post by TooEasy123)
There is a big distinction. With the same diet someone could train high frequency, heavy singles several times a week and gain a **** load of strength with basically zero size gain; conversely if that same person trained with a generally higher rep range (relative to the exercise obviously - no one is doing 10 reps for everything or high rep deadlifts, unless they do crossfit...) whilst still focusing on progressive overload, they'd gain a lot less strength overall but most definitely more size. The difference in strength/size would probably be considerable even after as little as 9-12 months.

Personally I see nothing wrong with 5x5, especially for beginners. It's a combination of strength and size. But when people who progress beyond this stage move powerlifting/maximal strength training with heavy triples or less start claiming that they're optimally building size and gaining just as much as they would with generally higher rep range training, as if you're going to build X muscle for every Y strength gain regardless of your style of training, that's complete bull****.
Its about relative strength. I use Reverse Pyramid Training which involves the top set being the set you improve each week. You do the first set to maximum intensity (90% of max) then deload by 10% and do one set
+1rep. I would not recommend this for beginners, but after about 5-6 months of SS with accessories I would move to that approach.

For natural trainees strength pretty much equals size. Look in your gym. Look at the guys curling 8s in the mirror and benching 50 and not deadlifting. Look at their physiques. They will either be on steroids or look like ****. Yes, extremely high frequency training can provide results. Effectively frequency = 1/intensity. You can either go for extremely high intensity (which means gym time is short but painful, you make a pain sacrifice) or high intensity (time sacrifice).

The powerlifters who look like **** do because they dont keep bf down like bodybuilders and dont do the isolation exercises. If they cut for a few months and added a few accessory movements and body composition WOULD be similar.
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MindTheGaps
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(Original post by TooEasy123)
There is a big distinction. With the same diet someone could train high frequency, heavy singles several times a week and gain a **** load of strength with basically zero size gain; conversely if that same person trained with a generally higher rep range (relative to the exercise obviously - no one is doing 10 reps for everything or high rep deadlifts, unless they do crossfit...) whilst still focusing on progressive overload, they'd gain a lot less strength overall but most definitely more size. The difference in strength/size would probably be considerable even after as little as 9-12 months.

Personally I see nothing wrong with 5x5, especially for beginners. It's a combination of strength and size. But when people who progress beyond this stage move powerlifting/maximal strength training with heavy triples or less start claiming that they're optimally building size and gaining just as much as they would with generally higher rep range training, as if you're going to build X muscle for every Y strength gain regardless of your style of training, that's complete bull****.
The problem is that this just isn't true.

To get big you need to lift heavy weights. Lifting heavy weights for higher reps is a bit better for this than lifting slightly heavier weights for low reps. But I think something we can all agree on is that lifting light weights, even for high reps, is not going to make you big.

As a beginner strength gains – which are then comparatively easy to come by – are by far the easiest way to stress your muscles enough to stimulate them to grow. Guys who can lift a decent amount of weight simply will be bigger than those who cannot, even if the latter lift it more times.
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TooEasy123
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I'm not really disagreeing with any of you.

I was pointing out a non-popular training style (greasing the groove) to show that there are ways to gain loads of strength with noticeably less size gain when compared with following a more "normal style" of training with generally higher rep ranges. This "normal style" of training can mean anything - 5x5, powerlifting-based programs, whatever. When I said generally higher rep ranges I didn't mean 15-20 slow reps and forever benching 40kg without thinking about progressive overload, or whatever else you had in mind.

I pointed out this example because people are saying "there is also no real distinction between training for strength or size.", when clearly my example shows that there can be a distinction if you really want there to be. There's a huge range of maximal strength levels that you can attain at a given muscle size.

I agree there will be very little distinction with regards to "normal" programs (normal meaning anything from powerlifting-based programs to bodbuilding-based ones), but a big distinction could be made if necessary if the training methods used are more unconventional like with my example.
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DieselJR
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(Original post by toonervoustotalk)
I am a 17 year old teen who weights 53kg and is 5'8. I am going to join my college gym in a few weeks time and I want to get a better physique as I am on the skinny side. I have never lifted before. I can only train for 1 hour per day and work out 3 days per week. And I want to do compound exercises.

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Gravitating away from training programmes slightly, what do YOU personally want from training? Do you want to be an absolute unit or do you want to maintain a strong yet lean build? Do you want to play as a forward in Rugby or do you want to be a midfielder playing football? Do you want to be massive and aesthetically amazing or do you want to maintain a high level of functional fitness?

Answer these questions for yourself and it will steer you more in the right direction. There are so many paths to follow in fitness and each individual undertakes a PERSONAL journey. We can all tell you exactly what we think you should do, but what is more important is what you want for yourself.

Size doesn't always mean massive strength and functionality, just the same as being strong won't necessarily mean you will look like Arnie.

Just my viewpoint
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DieselJR
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(Original post by Rinsed)
The problem is that this just isn't true.

To get big you need to lift heavy weights. Lifting heavy weights for higher reps is a bit better for this than lifting slightly heavier weights for low reps. But I think something we can all agree on is that lifting light weights, even for high reps, is not going to make you big.
One of the most important things to remember with whatever weight you're lifting IMO, for size is time under tension and getting a good contraction in the muscle. You might lift for 10 reps, but if you smash them out at the speed of light, especially with poor form your muscles are going to have minimal time under tension- lack of stress means no fibre tears and no fibre tears means no growth! Get dem gainnnz man!
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Nvmthename
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Do compounds 3 sessions of week, add weight / reps, eat properly, sleep well, **** what everyone is saying here.

Rep range doesnt matter imo, its attitude, diet, sleep, genetics.

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Greg Jackson
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(Original post by illusionz)


Basically rep ranges etc are irrelevant. The difference between training for size or strength is exercise selection.

As a beginner there is no point isolating your upper chest or rear delts etc. Everything is small. Do big compound lifts, increase the weight. You will get bigger and stronger.

Personally I find training for strength keeps the motivation up as you can see your progress from week to week. Training for looks means you take ages to see any progress.
exactly, training for "size" usually refers to doing 10-15 reps, which is hard as **** to progressively overload on, progressive overload being the most important thing and best measure of progress, whereas training with 5-8 reps you can continue to increase weight every workout, which is way more satisfying and motivating seeing your weight go up every workout instead of doing countless reps with medium weight and not really knowing if you're actually getting stronger, keep high rep work for assistance moves and low rep for the main compounds imo
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In One Ear
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(Original post by Greg Jackson)
exactly, training for "size" usually refers to doing 10-15 reps, which is hard as **** to progressively overload on, progressive overload being the most important thing and best measure of progress, whereas training with 5-8 reps you can continue to increase weight every workout, which is way more satisfying and motivating seeing your weight go up every workout instead of doing countless reps with medium weight and not really knowing if you're actually getting stronger, keep high rep work for assistance moves and low rep for the main compounds imo
5-8 Is a really good sweet spot IMO where its still easy to progress in strength but its enough stress to get hypertrophy with a moderate volume of sets. TBH all the research indicates that below at a ~5RM you are already recruiting all your muscle fibers right from the start, and going heavier and lower reps only increases the rate at which your CNS tells your muscle fibers to fire, so isn't going to promote any more hypertrophy (and since there appears to be a somewhat dose dependent response of hypertrophy on total volume up to a point, you have to do more really heavy sets to get that volume in which is going to really tax your CNS and perhaps then reduce the frequency you can train intensely at) but will optimize CNS factors determining your overall strength. Above around 8-9 I personally think it just gets too light and is moving into the range of "pump" work.

@Illusionz, the difference between size and strength training is NOT exercise selection. Careful exercise selection will just ensure well rounded overall development as opposed to YOLO I'm only doing the big 3 because nothing else is important thus getting really imbalanced development. The MAIN difference (IMO) between size and strength training is additional "Pump"/metabolic fatigue work where you just do a lot of reps with moderate weight with little rest between sets to really deplete your muscle, resulting in the muscle super-compensating with increased glycogen/water etc that allows you to carry around another few KGs of "muscle" contributing to overall size.

Anecdotally many have observed that people who exclusively power-lift in low rep ranges can often takes a several week training break and look just as muscular, whereas people who do more pump work (BBing), though maybe a bit bigger to begin with, often begin to visibly deflate over a 2-3 week layoff which is presumably the muscles beginning to let go of the extra water/glycogen stored from all the pump training whereas it takes longer to lose enough of the actual contractile fibres in a muscle to have noticeable visual loss in size.

Makes sense to me and from experience- its easy enough to test, just go spam high reps for a few weeks with high frequency and I'm sure you'll notice some rapid visual increase in size without much concurrent increase in strength, but you'll lose it over time if you go back to low rep training low volume and/or where to suddenly go low cals/carb and unless you are also getting noticeably progressively stronger you'll hit a wall in muscle "growth" after a rapid increase as the muscles are maxing out on the extra non-contractile elements (fluids/glycogen) they can store.

In short I think the best plan (naturally) if you want size is to do moderately heavy lifting (4-8 reps) with moderate total volume for your whole body, then if you have something particularly lagging/something you want to make proportionately bigger, hit it with some extra slightly higher rep sets with less rest in between sets alongside the heavy lifting. Simple.
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toonervoustotalk
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(Original post by In One Ear)
5-8 Is a really good sweet spot IMO where its still easy to progress in strength but its enough stress to get hypertrophy with a moderate volume of sets. TBH all the research indicates that below at a ~5RM you are already recruiting all your muscle fibers right from the start, and going heavier and lower reps only increases the rate at which your CNS tells your muscle fibers to fire, so isn't going to promote any more hypertrophy (and since there appears to be a somewhat dose dependent response of hypertrophy on total volume up to a point, you have to do more really heavy sets to get that volume in which is going to really tax your CNS and perhaps then reduce the frequency you can train intensely at) but will optimize CNS factors determining your overall strength. Above around 8-9 I personally think it just gets too light and is moving into the range of "pump" work.

@Illusionz, the difference between size and strength training is NOT exercise selection. Careful exercise selection will just ensure well rounded overall development as opposed to YOLO I'm only doing the big 3 because nothing else is important thus getting really imbalanced development. The MAIN difference (IMO) between size and strength training is additional "Pump"/metabolic fatigue work where you just do a lot of reps with moderate weight with little rest between sets to really deplete your muscle, resulting in the muscle super-compensating with increased glycogen/water etc that allows you to carry around another few KGs of "muscle" contributing to overall size.

Anecdotally many have observed that people who exclusively power-lift in low rep ranges can often takes a several week training break and look just as muscular, whereas people who do more pump work (BBing), though maybe a bit bigger to begin with, often begin to visibly deflate over a 2-3 week layoff which is presumably the muscles beginning to let go of the extra water/glycogen stored from all the pump training whereas it takes longer to lose enough of the actual contractile fibres in a muscle to have noticeable visual loss in size.

Makes sense to me and from experience- its easy enough to test, just go spam high reps for a few weeks with high frequency and I'm sure you'll notice some rapid visual increase in size without much concurrent increase in strength, but you'll lose it over time if you go back to low rep training low volume and/or where to suddenly go low cals/carb and unless you are also getting noticeably progressively stronger you'll hit a wall in muscle "growth" after a rapid increase as the muscles are maxing out on the extra non-contractile elements (fluids/glycogen) they can store.

In short I think the best plan (naturally) if you want size is to do moderately heavy lifting (4-8 reps) with moderate total volume for your whole body, then if you have something particularly lagging/something you want to make proportionately bigger, hit it with some extra slightly higher rep sets with less rest in between sets alongside the heavy lifting. Simple.
So ate you saying that I should do a rep range of 5-8 and how many sets

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Angry cucumber
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At your age and experience strength and size are linked.
ICF5X5 or Stronglifts 5x5 are the programmes you should look at.

It's all set out for you on the online guides and will lead to all kinds of gains size and strength wise

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