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Can you actually target strength or muscle size with your training ?

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  • Can you actually target strength or muscle size with your training ?

    How does it work, dont you just have to get stronger on the bench, squat, deadlift, row, press and you’re good ?

  • #2
    Great question, Jimmy.

    I think that this question stems from considering strength as a singular entity, e.g. maximal strength as demonstrated in a 1-Rep-Max. However, strength is defined as force production, which is measured in a specific context. We cannot separate the context from the force production and thus, there are a number of different types of strength:

    1) Maximal Strength, e.g. a 1RM
    2) Speed-Strength, e.g. high velocity force production as seen in a shot-putter
    3) Strength-endurance, e.g. the ability to produce force submaximally for an extended amount of time

    And potentially more depending on how granular you want to get. Any improvement in force production is an improvement in a specific type of strength, but this may not transfer over to all types of strength. For example, say someone uses predominantly sets of 10 in their training and is able to increase the weight they're handling for sets of 10 by 50 pounds over 12 weeks. Did they get stronger? Yes, of course- though their maximal strength may not have improved. Strength is specific this way.

    With respect to muscular hypertrophy, the three main pillars here are range of motion, motor unit recruitment, and training volume. Ideally you would pick exercises that use a relatively large range of motion for the muscle group(s) you're working on, while selecting a load that gets you within 4-5 reps of failure for the rep range you're using. There are a number of different rep ranges that will drive hypertrophy, roughly anything in the 4-30ish rep range will work. That said, we need to do enough volume (reps x sets) to drive hypertrophy. It thus becomes difficult to do lots of sets of 4 or 5 reps that are heavy or, similarly, multiple sets of 20+. Exercise selection plays a role here too, as some exercises lend themselves towards using a lower rep range (compound movements) vs a higher rep range (isolation movements), in general.

    Suffice it to say, this can be complicated! In any case, for most trainees- getting bigger muscles and getting stronger occur at the same time. As far as which one predominates, if any, that will depend on the programming and the individual's response to training.

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