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Hard Gainer's Blog

Friday, December 26, 2008

Ways to Get Stronger

Many bodybuilders and people seeking to build their muscles don't think in terms of strength training, whereas most athletes want to maximize their strength. The two don't have to be mutually exclusive.

In fact, they're inseparable. If you gain muscle, you no doubt will gain some strength. And the opposite is equally true: If you gain strength, you will gain some mass.

Muscles get stronger because they have to. Place greater loads on them and they're forced to adapt. While a lot of strength gains come from building a better link between the mind and muscles, some of it does come because the individual muscle fibers have gotten stronger; their contractile ability has been increased.

Take a look at some of the top bodybuilders of all time. Guys like Arnold, Franco Columbu, and Lou Ferrigno were (and still are) some of the strongest guys on the planet. In fact, both Arnold and Franco were weightlifting champions before they became bodybuilders.

I can remember both Franco and Ferrigno competing in the Worlds's Strongest Man competitions and doing very well. Back then, bodybuilders were thought of as weak.

They were by no means weak.

Some would argue that building strength is a prerequisite of building muscle, and I would agree. My own personal story was one of wanting to build muscle and "only" gaining strength. But the added strength I achieved enabled me to build muscle faster because I could lift heavier weights in my bodybuilding routines. The strength comes first. The muscle comes later, especially if you're a hard gainer like me.

For the budding bodybuilder as well as for the strength trainer just starting out, I'd suggest getting as strong as you can in the exercises you will build upon. For power lifters, this would be bench presses, deadlifts, and squats, as well as some isolation moves that build strength in the supporting muscles. For bodybuilders, add in isolation movements like curls, presses of all kinds, shrugs, rows, dips, and pull-ups.

The surefire way to measure progress in your bodybuilding and strength routines is to monitor the weights you lift. The muscle size gains will follow with proper nutrition and rest.


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