How To Get Stronger Without Getting Bigger

There are times when strength is preferred over size. This article will teach you how to get stronger without getting bigger.

Working out isn’t always about gaining size. Although many choose to, others may want to maintain their current mass while increasing their strength.

In regards to muscular strength, there are two major contributing factors to consider.

1. Cross-Sectional Area:

The bigger the muscle fibers, the more force they will be able to exert. This is obviously not the way to go for someone looking to maintain size, so we must turn to the second factor.

2. Neural Adaptions:

Each muscle group is made up of many individual motor units. When these motor units receive neural impulses, they contract. Any number of motor units may contract simultaneously to exert varying amounts of force. In most individuals, the number of motor units being recruited at any one time is far from the maximum capacity of the muscle. Even at maximal effort, the entire muscle group may only be exerting a fraction of its maximum force.

For someone who wants to gain strength without bulking up, the focus of their workouts must be on increasing the neural drive to their muscles. By doing so, a greater number of motor units will be able to fire simultaneously, thus generating more force.

The Workout

We know that with most people, only a fraction of the muscle group can be activated at any one time, even with maximal effort. In order to increase neural drive to the muscles, we must concentrate on lifting heavy weights in the 1-6 rep range.

The first step is to design a split that is tailored for the persons individual needs. The split should enable the lifter to focus on a few muscle groups during each workout & give the body enough time to fully recover from each workout.

The most basic split, which can be further adjusted based on the individual, is a 3 day split, with one day in between workouts. The body is divided up into 3 main areas. It is not necessary to workout more often than this, as long as each workout is intense & productive enough.

  1. ‘Lower Body’ – consists of the quadriceps, hamstrings, glutes, calves, and lower back.
  2. ‘Upper Back’ or ‘Pulling’ – consists of the lats, rhomboids, and traps. The biceps are also targeted in this part of the workout.
  3. ‘Chest’ or ‘Pushing’ – consists of the chest, shoulders, triceps, abs, and the forearms.

Continue onto page 2 for the workout fundamentals…


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