Excerpts taken from the Excellent article ” The Forgotten Link – Strength” Written by Warren Sicloces BodyFitness Magazine
It often happens in bodybuilding especially to young people, that we can’t see the woods for the trees.
They anxiously seek the bodybuilding titans latest workouts, the most novel supplements and the most sophisticated diets they can find, and then combine it all to create an explosive cocktail which is suppose to make their muscles grow like wildfire, but they end up disillusioned by the results.
They think they’ve remembered everything they need to form the development chain, the most important link in their chain they forget about strength:
Even though it’s a fairly common sight, it still surprises me when I go to the gym and watch guys with barley average physiques doing three sets of cable crossovers in front of the mirror, tensing their muscles and grimacing.
If I look over to another corner of the gym, I’ll see some more sat doing the concentration curl or leg extensions, or the lateral raise or dumbbell kickbacks. You name the exercise and they’ll be lifting a ridiculously small amount of weight.
Even if they do witness a muscle pump, with set after set and rep after rep, it makes no difference.
Their physique virtually always stays the same! And it doesn’t surprise me in the slightest because no matter how well they have devised their program, and think it has all of the required features in it to trigger muscle building, they still lack one crucial element, which Warren Sicloces calls the “forgotten link”
The Forgotten Link
Sometimes the answer to a difficult problem, even to one seemingly impossible to solve, is the simplest option, the most straightforward approach.
Bodybuilding began with the performance of exercises with weights which involved the performance of extensions or pressing, and contractions in a specific exercise, doing so with increasingly heavier weights. In other words, the muscle is forced to develop when it’s made to contract against a progressively heavier resistance (weight).
Beginners normally make progress fairly easily, without the need for any particular approach or weight training method other than gradually increasing their working weight.
They don’t need scientific research to know, in this respect, that muscles grow larger as a direct consequence of lifting a weight repeatedly.
Of course, there are then other factors that have an impact on the muscle-building, such as resting sufficiently to allow recovery from the workouts plus a diet that contains all the nutrients to provide the energy and help the body revitalize the worn away muscle structures.
If we don’t get enough rest then the development will suffer from it.
Don’t Become Lost In Your Way
And that’s just what’s happening to the majority of bodybuilders who don’t witness the development they’re searching for. They’ve lost their way. They’ve become obsessed with supersets, drop sets, five or six-day programs, double split routines, and other high-intensity methods, and with discovering secret exercises or the most flamboyant ones, hoping to find the switch that will activate the muscle building.
But they end up lifting laughable amounts of weight and forget that pumping the muscles from different fronts is of little use if they don’t lift a weight heavy enough to ‘wake up’ all the fibres in the muscle.
Pick up a 10kg (22lb) dumbbell and execute a bicep curl from different angles or vary the level, or execute a lateral raise, dumbbell fly or dumbbell shoulder press with it. It makes no difference, whether you thrash out thousands of sets and reps with it at any angle and in any combination, you can expect just about no development in strength or muscle size. The weight is far to light.
How To Build Strength & Hold on To The Extra For Workouts
Strength is the main device to trigger hypertrophy (the engagement of muscle fibres) . Some say that building strength and building muscle are two different things.
They’d be right, too, but only to a certain extent. People who argue this support their views with the fact there are different protocols for building strength and putting the muscle together.
But a bodybuilder can’t add more muscle to their frame without making themselves stronger first. The heavier the weight the more muscle they will pack on.
The size of a muscle is proportionate to its strength. Powerlifters, for instance, weight train to lift the heaviest weight they can in a set exercise, not to build huge muscle, yet in spite of not training according to bodybuilding protocols exsactly, they have more muscle than many bodybuilders.
When you build for strength the ‘side effect’ is that more muscle comes with it.
Many studies have established that when the body is challenged with heavy weights it releases more growth hormone and testosterone into the system, its natural response, to meet the demands of the task. Both hormones are highly anabolic, which means the body synthesizes protein faster, in other words forming more muscle.
In any case, don’t you think that instead of executing the standing bicep curl with 50 kilos (110lb) on the barbell, or the bench press with 100 kilos (220lb), you were able to do it with 60 or 110 kilos ( 132 and 242lb) respectively, you’d come out with bigger biceps and pectorals? The only possible answer is “yes”
Differences Between Training For Muscle & Weight Training For Strength
So, weight training for strength and weight training for muscle basically differ in so far that in the former you execute very few reps, never more than five in a set, with as much weight as you can manage, whereas in the later you perform sets of at least 8 to 10 reps.
The speed of the rate is one of the other factors to distinguish the two types of training. In the strength training, the weight must be blasted up, but if you’re weight training for muscle the execution of the reps must be slower.
A further distinguishing feature is the length of the rests between sets. People lifting as much as they can tend to rest between 3 to 5 minutes between sets. People gunning for muscle, on the other hand, will take a breather of 1 or 2 minutes between them, or even less than that.
There are, however, studies that suggest the numbers of fibres in a muscle can increase, due to the dynamic performance of the reps, which combined with the greater hormone secretion when we lift heavy weights admittedly leads to larger muscles.
But of all the ways in which the body builds the muscle, it is for the reason I first mentioned.
Even if it was true that weight training for strength didn’t directly contribute to building bigger muscles, indirectly it will do since you’ll be able to work with more weight in each and every exercise.
So instead of executing 10-12 reps with 16kilos(35lb) in the lateral raise, you do it with 20-22 (44-46lb), your dels will build-up, or is that not right?
You can apply this same logic to any other exercise the result will always be the same: the more weight you lift, the more muscle you can enjoy.