Size and Strength

Posted: June 9, 2013 by Savvy Saver in Strength and Size
Tags: , , , ,

How often do you hear people telling you that they want to get huge? It’s all about the size of the biceps isn’t it? Perhaps not.


When I started working out, I didn’t know what I was doing. I remember one of the PT’s asking me about my fitness goals when I joined a gym and I had no clue. The one thing I knew was, I wanted to get big. It didn’t take the PT much effort to figure out a routine for me and it wasn’t too long before I was lifting heavy weights. I remember that I got big, so big that my shirts won’t fit and some of my trousers had to be thrown away. I had achieved what I had wanted.

I looked humongous. But my waist size was higher since I started training. I was benching 145 lbs but I couldn’t do a single pull up. I was curling 33 pound dumbbells but I was fat. I never thought about searching for information on the internet to help me with my training. I remember doing countless bicep curls and tricep extensions and wrist curls (I don’t even know if that works any muscle).

A few years later when I got the chance to go to graduate school, I thought I might start training again. So I started doing the same thing I once did to get big. But I was weak. I would load up the bar with 45 lbs each side and crank out maybe 2 reps on the bench. That was mission accomplished for me.

My mind was fixated on specialized isolated muscle training. I used to workout on a split routine which looked something like this:

Day 1:

Bench press (3X10)

Incline bench press (3X10)

Dumbell flyes (3X10)

Decline bench press (3X10)

Lat pull down (3X10)

Reverse grip lat pull down (3X10)

Dumbbell pullovers (3X10)

Overhead dumbbell press (3X10)

Lateral side raises (3X10)

Day 2:

Bicep curls (3X10)

Preacher curls (3X10)

Barbell curls (3X10)

Dumbbell tricep extension (3X10)

Tricep extension (3X10)

Squats on smith machine (3X10) (rarely)

I did this for 6 days a week alternating days 1 and 2. The reason I wrote all of this down is that I don’t think anyone should follow this routine. By following this specialized isolated muscle workout, I was getting nowhere. I thought I was getting stronger but I wasn’t.

One of the days, a good friend of mine introduced me to a new beginner program (well new for me). You can find it here for free. The program was as simple as a math test (I am Asian). It just needed 3 days a week with just 5 barbell based lifts; 3 on each day. I was in disbelief. For one, the program had zero isolation movement exercises. I thought, “how can this thing even work?” But, I still decided to go ahead and give it a try. I started with the empty bar on most of the lifts and gained strength quickly. I was amazed at how fast I was getting stronger. I even starting doing pull ups, even though I was not benching as much as I did earlier with the split routine. I could feel that I had a much balanced and stronger physique than I had ever had before. The downside? I was not getting as big as I had gotten before.

I could give you more examples of how strength and size are confused to be related somehow, but aren’t. I will save that for some of the posts in future.


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