Article last updated: May 2019 by Oskar Faarkrog, ISSA Certified Trainer
You don’t need to increase the weight on the bar to get bigger.
If weight alone equalled size the most muscular people on earth would be powerlifters, strongmen and olympic weightlifters.
However, the most muscular people are bodybuilders. Most bodybuilders are strong, but they would lose big time against powerlifters, strongmen and olympic weightlifters who are 30-50 pounds lighter than them.
So how do bodybuilders get bigger than powerlifters, strongmen and olympic weightlifters while lifting less weight?
They use a variety of training methods such as:
* Focusing on using just the target muscle (and thereby eliminating assisting muscles as much as possible).
* Using worse leverages (e.g. using a close stance on squats and going deep to target the quad muscles more) instead of using a wide stance which uses more muscles.
* Slow down reps to eliminate momentum and get more out of the eccentric phase. (2/3 of the muscle building happens during the eccentric phase of a rep).
* Make each rep burn into the next by eliminating pauses at the top and bottom of each movement.
* Increase exercise frequency: Train each exercise more often. E.g. instead of doing dips 2 times per week they do dips 4 times per week.
* Increase exercise volume: Build up to do more sets and reps with the same weight.
* Increase exercise density: Rest less between sets to increase the training density. (Do more work in a shorter amount of time).
* Pre-fatigue your muscles by doing other exercises before. (E.g. before doing chin ups you work your biceps to involve the lats as much as possible).
As you can see, load is just one variable of many.
It’s the easiest to measure, but the problem is that focusing on load alone won’t get you anywhere near your size potential.
And after a certain point you simply won’t be able to make good gains in load because we all have a genetic cap for how strong we can get.
Essentially, the smaller your wrists, ankles and neck are in relation to your frame and the lower your starting strength levels are, the lower your genetic strength cap will be.
Unfortunately, this means that most skinny-fat guys have a relatively low genetic cap for strength.
Therefore implementing other progress methods is very useful when you stall in strength progress.
By using the methods listed above, you can compensate for your lack of talent in the strength department and build a physique that is similar in muscularity to a guy who is much stronger than you.
Be proud but stay hungry!
Oskar Faarkrog, ISSA Certified Trainer