If there is one thing I see a lot of in the gym, it’s wasted effort, because of poor programming. If you are trying to lose weight and you are not losing weight, then your program is no good or you are not following it, either the diet, training or both. The same thing goes for getting bigger and/or stronger, if these are your goals and these arn’t happening then your program is no good for your goal either.
Since I mostly talk about weight loss in my articles, this article will discuss getting muscles bigger or causing “muscle hypertrophy.” The cross section area of a muscle is directly related to the amount of force it can produce, meaning that a bigger muscle is a stronger muscle. One of the things that really drives me crazy when I go to the gym is when I see guys who are trying to get bigger, yet they never get any stronger, and are also really weak. Do they figure that one day magically they will get bigger and stronger?
Recently I had a client show me a picture of what he would like to look like. It was some model from some supplement add or something. Did I mention he wanted this done in 6 weeks? I’m like ok you want to look like that, I get it. Now let’s compare your strength to his:
You- Max Bench-115, Max Squat 135, Max Deadlift 135-these are rough estimates
His (Model)- Max Bench -315, Max Squat 365, Max Deadlift 405-these are rough estimates.
So now I tell him that if he wants to look like the so called model guy then he must get as strong as him. This is definitely not happening in 6 weeks. With this guys genetics naturally it might never happen. I then had to explain that the reason for these crazy gains were more than likely a result of steroid use.
Ok let’s get back to the guy that wants to get bigger. If you want to get bigger you must get stronger at the big lifts. I don’t care what you do with isolation exercises but if you are not getting stronger at the big compound lifts then forget about getting bigger. If all you did was get super strong with big compound lifts you would be big, regardless of how much you lift with any other exercise…although it would be a lot also. So if you want to get big you must be getting stronger and eventually get really strong with these compound lifts:
- Bench Press
- Incline Bench Press
Now I know people will argue well there are some guys who are really small but strong. Yes you can train to get really strong without getting bigger if you want. All you have to do is use low reps <6, for many sets with a high rest break. But that is not comparing apples to apples. Put it this way: You will be bigger by increasing your bench press from 200-300 no doubt about it, as long as you are following a program that isn’t purely for relative strength, which most people do not follow.
What I see a lot of in the gym is doing a lot of people concentrating on exercises that do not allow for a lot of weight to be lifted. These people are small and weak and that is because of their program. You will see them not doing the compound exercises that I talked about earlier but rather rely heavily on exercises such as:
- leg extensions
- leg press
- cable crossovers
- dumbell flies
- dumbell pullovers
- tricep kickbacks
- dumbell curls
Although these exercises can be useful in a program they should not be a large percentage of the program. Since they do not allow a lot of weight to get lifted or get stronger,
So my advice for people that are struggling to get bigger is simple. Get stronger in the complex exercises that I listed. If you increase your strength in those exericses you will no doubt be bigger. However if you havent gained any strenght in them then chances are you havent gotten bigger as well.