Strength vs Size in Muscle Training: What is the Difference

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The fitness world is changing with the addition of wild and crazy ideas. When you walk into the gym the first thing which hit your mind is getting bigger and stronger. Both objectives can be used interchangeably but achieved through different weight training. To make significant progress in your training, you need to change your training and make it specialized either for muscle size like a bodybuilder or strength like powerlifters. Strength training and size training are different and share the same element but with a different approach. Let’s break down the difference between both ways of training.

Size and Strength Training: The Differences

Increasing the size of muscle (size training) requires adding more volume to your workout (set x reps). On the other hand, increasing the ability of muscles to produce more force (strength training) requires lifting heavier weights. In simple words, size building is for getting bigger muscles while strength training is for getting stronger muscles.

The basic difference between both is the training volume. Hypertrophy (increasing muscle size) needs more training volume compared with strength training. However, the equipment used for both is almost the same. Here is a short and clear explanation of the primary difference between the two.

Training Volume: This refers to the total number of sets and reps you do in each workout. The more exercise you do for a particular part of your body, the more sets of that exercise you perform. This ultimately leads to a greater training volume.

Training Intensity: This involves the weight you lift during your exercise.

Rest Between Sets: This is the recovery time you give to your body to restore its strength and recover from the training stress.

Muscle Training: More Reps, Less Intensity

That being said earlier, for muscle training you need to increase the training volume which means more sets and reps of a given exercise. In this, you slightly decrease the training intensity. Talking about the rest between sets, which is generally 1-3 minutes rest between sets.

Strength Training: Fewer Reps, More Intensity

For getting muscular strength, you need to reduce the overall number of sets and reps of an exercise. This training requires adding heavier weights to your workout so you focus on gaining stronger muscle. The rest period between sets is 3-5 minutes

With Size Comes Strength

Here is a cool thing about both types of training which is “Getting bigger muscle size means getting more strength” You may have seen that powerlifters tend to be so larger and carry enough body fat layer. Yes! That’s the thing. If a unit has a more surface area, it will be able to apply more force against a resistance. Those big bodies wouldn’t be able to bench 800lbs if they weighed only 180. Taking into consideration this fact, both muscle building and strength training go hand-in-hand especially when you know how to train smart. So, if you are an intermediate lifter, focus on adding some size to your muscle then jump back to strength training.

Why Strength Training?

There are many benefits associated with strength training which ultimately save you from getting into serious illness. Here are some health benefits of strength training:

  • It replaces your body fat with lean mass and manages your weight.
  • Boost your metabolism.
  • Reduce the risk of osteoporosis by decreasing bone density.
  • It reduces the symptoms of chronic conditions including back pain, obesity, arthritis, diabetes, depression, and cardiovascular diseases.

Why Muscle Training?

Getting to indulge in muscle training gives your muscle a larger look and surely it’s an aesthetic benefit that you like looking bigger. Here are other benefits associated with this training

  • Help in weight loss by increasing caloric expenditure.
  • It avoids muscular balance due to increased symmetry.
  • Less risk of injuries.

Strength vs Muscle Training: Which One Is Suitable

Both types of training are focused on the breakdown of muscle fibers to rebuild them stronger in a larger quantity. It’s up to you what is your main purpose. If you are more into getting bigger muscles then focus on muscle building. However, if you want to improve your functional ability and strength then you better opt for resistance training which is also helpful for your health. According to the CDC, muscle-strengthening activities should be preferred especially those which involve all major muscle groups two days a week.

A combination of both strength and muscle training can be effective for recreational athletes and fitness trainers. However, you need to specialize in these workouts and adapt your training routine once you have reached an intermediate level of weight training. Moreover, it’s better to work with a personal trainer to get the desired results in a timely manner and avoid injuries. In the end, whatever training you decide, be consistent and work for your specific needs over the long term. Provide your body with all the essential nutrients and rest. Following this strategy, you will surely achieve your strength goals.

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