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Old 04-17-2010, 11:54 AM   #1
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Default First strength, then muscle?

I have trained just about one year now. I have also read a lot about training and of course information is VERY different depending of the source. So, I would like to here opinions from you, what you think about the point Im making.

THE point is like the title says, first strength, then muscle. Is it valid? I am personally in that road. In my first year I have eaten calories well above my maintanance level trying to maximise my first year gains. Im pretty happy with my development. Now Im trying to further improve my strength levels and in the same time trying to reduce my bodyfat to about 10%.

My goals are to get my overhead press comparing to bodyweight x 100%, bench press x 150%, squat x 200%, deadlift x 250%.. Only when I get there, I will concentrate on building muscle mass and do more bb-type of training. Now I will concentrate just on that "big four" + weighted chins, weighted dips, barbell rows and weighted crunch. Nothing fancy, just keeping it simple, trying to progressively to improve my PR:s by training 2-3 times a week.

So, I would like to hear how other people do it. Is this a good way (Im just at the beginning)? And how people who are at "my goal levels" have done it... Just nice discussion and opinions. Is it better to switch earlier to bb-type of training, split bodyparts etc, or do it this way? Also is it better to keep bodyfat levels reasonably low or really trying to maximize strength gains and then diet down later?

Discuss and advice me..
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Old 04-17-2010, 12:02 PM   #2
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Strength is a necessity for muscle. A constant focus on progression on every set will give your body a reason to grow.

Now with that said, this does not mean that you have to work in rep ranges that are considered "optimal" for strength training. I think it is wise to do do most of your sets between 5 and 10 reps. Some will say 6 to 12, and some will say 6 to 15, etc.

But the big point is that for muscle gains, you want to progress at 5 reps or more.

Conversely, without strength, muscle will not come. I have yet to see a muscular natural or AAS bodybuilder with size who is not strong. I am a big fan of pushing on every set as a beginner and intermediate. Advanced lifters train how they train, so they are a different story.

Get strong on the basic lifts. Use a simple routine. And work within a sensible rep range.
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Old 04-17-2010, 12:06 PM   #3
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Old 04-17-2010, 12:09 PM   #4
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Originally Posted by Lerho View Post

So, I would like to hear how other people do it. Is this a good way (Im just at the beginning)? And how people who are at "my goal levels" have done it... Just nice discussion and opinions. Is it better to switch earlier to bb-type of training, split bodyparts etc, or do it this way? Also is it better to keep bodyfat levels reasonably low or really trying to maximize strength gains and then diet down later?

Discuss and advice me..
The best way to train as a beginner is with a simple fullbody starter routine. This is the most effective routine for most (not all) naturals. Splits tend to encourage the use of too many exercises, and move the focus off simplicity and on to the desire for a magical formula. You can use splits, but I wouldn't venture beyond a simple A/B split for a while.

With that said, if you find you are making great gains, a 3 to 4 day split can be used as you become an intermediate lifter.

Regarding fat gains...this is a heated topic. Beginners gain rapidly during their first 12 months so they should be eating at least 300 to 500 calories per day above maintenance. This will add on some fat, of course, but undereating is dangerous territory.

It's best to start with eating more. Monitor your body, and make calorie adjustments from there. Each body responds differently, so there is no magical calorie level.

To get as big and strong as fast as possible you need to eat aggressively, but reasonably. If you gain weight too quickly, pull back on the calories by 300 a week and see how things are going.

After a year or two of good gains, muscle gains slow and there is no need to "eat big". During these periods you should eat a cleaner diet slightly above maintenance levels.
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Old 04-17-2010, 12:36 PM   #5
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Thank you BendtheBar.. very good points from you. Couple of questions though..

1. As for my case. I feel like I've gained too much fat in my first year (although strength and muscle gains have been very good). So now Im in a diet to reduce most of that fat. I plan to do this to end of July, then again trying to really up my strength gains in between August 2010-april 2011..Is that okay?

2. Are my goal mentioned in first post good strength goals before doing more bb-type training: overhead press comparing to bodyweight x 100%, bench press x 150%, squat x 200%, deadlift x 250%?

3. Im quite a tall, 186cm, with long limbs and I have felt that I need to get more reps in my lower body exercises than in my upper body exercises. For example, I can have a very good feeling by doing bench presses 3x5, but same doesnt work in back squat.. Its more like 3x10 to get a feeling to really have trained that bodypart. Can this be the case or is it just my imagination?
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Old 04-17-2010, 01:03 PM   #6
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Originally Posted by Lerho View Post
Thank you BendtheBar.. very good points from you. Couple of questions though..

1. As for my case. I feel like I've gained too much fat in my first year (although strength and muscle gains have been very good). So now Im in a diet to reduce most of that fat. I plan to do this to end of July, then again trying to really up my strength gains in between August 2010-april 2011..Is that okay?

2. Are my goal mentioned in first post good strength goals before doing more bb-type training: overhead press comparing to bodyweight x 100%, bench press x 150%, squat x 200%, deadlift x 250%?

3. Im quite a tall, 186cm, with long limbs and I have felt that I need to get more reps in my lower body exercises than in my upper body exercises. For example, I can have a very good feeling by doing bench presses 3x5, but same doesnt work in back squat.. Its more like 3x10 to get a feeling to really have trained that bodypart. Can this be the case or is it just my imagination?
Do you have any before and after pictures. Or a current picture? That would help us assess and better advise.

Regarding strength goals...they are good, but do them in a good rep range. You will be very strong at those levels, and you will also gain quite a bit of muscle getting there.

Don't use under 5 reps for training right now. I don't look at strength and bodybuilding as 2 separate journeys. They are basically the same for a very long time, unless you don't eat like a bodybuilder and train with a powerlifting-specific type of routine. Hope this makes sense.

Regarding legs, higher reps tend to work better for many. This isn't unusual at all. I get great chest soreness at 5 reps, but not as much for legs. Legs can easily be work between 8 to 20 reps....that's a good sweet spot for great gains.
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Old 04-17-2010, 01:37 PM   #7
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Originally Posted by BendtheBar View Post
Do you have any before and after pictures. Or a current picture? That would help us assess and better advise.

Regarding strength goals...they are good, but do them in a good rep range. You will be very strong at those levels, and you will also gain quite a bit of muscle getting there.

Don't use under 5 reps for training right now. I don't look at strength and bodybuilding as 2 separate journeys. They are basically the same for a very long time, unless you don't eat like a bodybuilder and train with a powerlifting-specific type of routine. Hope this makes sense.

Regarding legs, higher reps tend to work better for many. This isn't unusual at all. I get great chest soreness at 5 reps, but not as much for legs. Legs can easily be work between 8 to 20 reps....that's a good sweet spot for great gains.
I have pictures but come on, I cant put them here for people to laught at... But im 186cm and when I started one year ago my morning weight was about 85kg and now its 96kg (it was 99kg but I have dieted down about 2 weeks now).

Your third paragraph was interesting..about not using under 5 reps..is it still ok to try PR:s in every 2-3 months? About eating. Im indeed at the moment trying to eat very clean. I try to get protein at least 2.5 grams/kg but limit carbohydrates under 50 grams/day except training days. Also taking L-Glutamine, Creatine, Leucine etc.. So basically Im really trying to train quite a closely like a powerlifter and eat like a bodybuilder, is that wrong way to do it?

Hmm... I really shoud concentrate more on 8+ reps on lower body exercises, then. By the way, is squat and deadlift variations plus quads enough for legs or should I add leg press etc also...?
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Old 04-17-2010, 03:18 PM   #8
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I have pictures but come on, I cant put them here for people to laught at... But im 186cm and when I started one year ago my morning weight was about 85kg and now its 96kg (it was 99kg but I have dieted down about 2 weeks now).
Almost everybody has pictures of themselves on here. We are all just like you.
We are not perfect. Your asking for help, help us, help you.

Go to my contest bulk log, and look at my picturers. I'm not winning any Mr. shows anytime soon. I've got my pictures on here.

POST YOURS!
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Old 04-19-2010, 02:28 AM   #9
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Originally Posted by glwanabe View Post
Almost everybody has pictures of themselves on here. We are all just like you.
We are not perfect. Your asking for help, help us, help you.

Go to my contest bulk log, and look at my picturers. I'm not winning any Mr. shows anytime soon. I've got my pictures on here.

POST YOURS!
Heh, Im not brave enough to post them. Maybe when I get to 85kg and there hopefully is even a litte muscle to see. But now you cant see anything because all the fat is in the way.
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Old 04-19-2010, 09:03 AM   #10
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I have pictures but come on, I cant put them here for people to laught at... But im 186cm and when I started one year ago my morning weight was about 85kg and now its 96kg (it was 99kg but I have dieted down about 2 weeks now).

Your third paragraph was interesting..about not using under 5 reps..is it still ok to try PR:s in every 2-3 months? About eating. Im indeed at the moment trying to eat very clean. I try to get protein at least 2.5 grams/kg but limit carbohydrates under 50 grams/day except training days. Also taking L-Glutamine, Creatine, Leucine etc.. So basically Im really trying to train quite a closely like a powerlifter and eat like a bodybuilder, is that wrong way to do it?

Hmm... I really shoud concentrate more on 8+ reps on lower body exercises, then. By the way, is squat and deadlift variations plus quads enough for legs or should I add leg press etc also...?
Regarding PRs...absolutely...you can test your max lifts. I just wouldn't want you training in lower rep ranges as a staple.

Btw, no one here would laugh at pictures. We ban people like that. We're here to help each other make changes.

It sounds like you gained over 30 pounds your first year. I would definitely try to tone it down a bit and maybe use a more moderate diet such as cycling 2 week bulking and maintenance periods, or using a zig zag eating approach and eat more on training days. There are many ways to do this.

Regarding diet I would throw in one day a week where you eat higher carbs, possibly on the day before heavy squats. it is definitely NOT wrong to train heavy and eat like a bodybuilder. That's what I've always done, and I think training heavy on core compounds lifts is the key to fast muscle gains.
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