Many people want to be strong and powerful. They think that if they can lift more weight than their friends or colleagues, then they will look better. But, there’s another side to it too. Some people’s muscles tend to get stronger over time – but not bigger. Does that sound like something you struggle with? Are you getting stronger but not bigger?
Why is that? Well, there are several possible causes for this. But, usually, the underlying reason is all the same: they don’t have a good understanding of the differences between training for strength vs hypertrophy. Don’t worry. That’s what I’ll address in this article.
1. Your Training Volume
The first thing to determine whether your body is getting stronger or just bigger is your training volume. If you’re doing a lot of sets and reps per workout, then you probably already know how to tell whether you are getting stronger or just bigger. The amount of weight you can lift depends on the number of sets and reps that you do.
If you lift 1 rep at 50% of your one-rep max, then you’re lifting less weight than someone who lifts 10 reps at 60% of their one-rep max. So, in terms of total work done by the muscle, you’re going to be lifting less weight. This means that you aren’t going to build as much lean mass (muscle) or size up as much as the other guy.
Now, let me make myself clear. It’s perfectly fine to train for strength. In fact, if you train for strength, you should do so. But, when you start focusing on increasing your muscle size, you need to keep things in perspective.
When you focus on building muscle size, you’re going to increase the amount of protein synthesis that takes place in your muscle fibers. And, since protein synthesis requires energy, this means that you have to burn more calories than someone who trains for strength only. So, if you’re trying to build muscle size, then you should train for hypertrophy.
2. Your Rest Periods
The next factor to consider is your rest periods. When you’re training for strength, you can generally get away with shorter rest periods because you’re still able to lift the weight. But, when you’re training for hypertrophy, you can’t go quite as long without rest because you won’t be able to lift as much weight.
So, if you’re trying to build muscle size, then you should try to keep your rest periods between 3-5 minutes. This will give your body enough time to recover from each set.
And, while you’re resting, you should be thinking about what you’re going to eat for lunch. Because you’re going to need to replenish those glycogen stores before you lift again. Otherwise, you risk becoming “carb-depleted” and losing some of the gains that you’ve made.
3. Diet has a huge impact on muscle growth
The food we eat has a direct impact on our muscles. What we eat can either help or hinder our ability to build muscle. If you want to build muscle, you need to consume enough protein. Protein is the nutrient that helps repair and build muscle tissue.
Good sources of protein include meat, poultry, fish, eggs, and dairy products. You also need to eat enough calories to support muscle growth. If you don’t eat enough calories, your body will break down muscle tissue for energy.
Eating a balanced diet that includes plenty of protein, carbohydrates, and healthy fats will help promote muscle growth.
4. Your Genetic Potential
Genetics play a role in muscle growth in a few ways. Genetics determine how many muscle fibers a person has. They affect the size of the individual fibers. They also play a role in the efficiency of the muscles’ contractions.
Muscle fibers are the basic units of muscle tissue. People with more muscle fibers have the potential to grow more muscle than those with fewer fibers. The size of the fibers also plays a role in muscle growth. Larger fibers can grow more muscle than smaller fibers.
The efficiency of muscle contraction is also determined by genetics. Some people have muscles that contract more efficiently than others. This means that they can generate more force and grow more muscle.
All of these factors combine to determine how much muscle a person can grow. Genetics play a significant role in muscle growth and can determine how much muscle a person can ultimately achieve.
So, now that you understand the difference between strength training and hypertrophy training, you should be able to figure out whether your body is getting stronger or larger. If you’re trying to build muscle size, then you need to train for hypertrophy. However, if you’re trying to build strength, then you can just stick to strength training. Of course, this isn’t a hard-and-fast rule. It depends on your individual goals.
Are you interested in strength or size? Do you want to bulk up or tone down? Do you want to compete in powerlifting or bodybuilding? These are all questions that you need to answer before you begin working out.