Can You Gain Both Mass and Strength?

Most of us start lifting weights for two reasons. To get big, and to get strong. It’s a no-brainer. We want the best of both worlds. But is it really possible to gain both mass and strength simultaneously?

It’s been said that you make the most gains in mass and strength within the first year or two of training. Typically you get bigger and stronger. It’s your body’s response to this newfound stress. However, as you become seasoned, the gains are slower and incremental. That makes sense. Our bodies and muscles have  obvious limitations.

In theory, one will precede the other. Your training for raw strength gains will be (or should be) different than training for muscle mass and cosmetics.

Training for Strength

The most common form of strength training is called powerlifting. We also have strongman competitions, which is similar. The ultimate goal is to lift weight, or an object, from point A to point B.

To do this, you need maximum power output. You need what’s called explosive power. Your purpose is to lift as much weight as you possibly can. Powerlifters and strongman competitors are insanely strong!

Although muscularity will come in some form, their goal is not cosmetic, or the shape of the muscles. In fact, it’s the opposite. They’re concern isn’t muscle definition or how they look. Although powerlifters may integrate some different techniques, they’re lifting heavy weights with lower rep ranges. It’s all about strength and power.

Training for Muscle Mass

Don’t confuse gaining muscle mass as training for strength and power. It’s somewhat contrary to training for strength.

Rather than lifting your maximum amount of weight, the formula for mass gains is making your muscles do the work. This often means lifting a little lighter because you need to feel the muscle throughout each rep rather than simply moving weight from point A to B.

With gaining mass, it’s not so much how much you lift, it’s how you lift. In other words, you want to make the weight feel heavier than it is. How do you do this? By contracting your muscles throughout the reps.

Training volume, more sets and reps, is also a part of gaining mass. This is opposite to powerlifting. With mass training you want to pump more blood into the muscle. This is what gives your muscles that bodybuilder shape.


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Gain Mass and Strength with Powerbuilding

I would love more than anything to say that I developed this method to gain both mass and strength. Although I started this type of training before I heard the official term, I can’t take credit for creating what’s known as Powerbuilding.

What is Powerbuilding? It’s combining techniques from both strength training and bodybuilding to maximum the impact for mass and strength.

In my powerbuilding workouts, I start with a compound exercise and I go heavy. I might do the same for the second exercises. After that, I start integrating isolation exercises and pumping out more reps. Pretty simple.

Here’s a sample Powerbuilding Back Workout:

  • Barbell Rows
    • 4 sets x 10, 8, 6, 5 reps
  • Dumbbell Rows
    • 4 sets x 8, 8, 6, 6 reps
  • Lat Pulldowns
    • 3 sets x 10 reps
  • Seated Rows
    • 3 sets x 12 reps

* For the first exercises, I generally do a couple of warm-up sets of 10-12 reps; these are not included above. 

You can apply this type of workout to any muscle. The basis is to lift heavy in the beginning using compound exercises. This builds overall strength.

Towards the end of your workout, you’ll want to include some isolation exercises and pump out more reps. This pumps more blood into the muscle, thus leading to growth, aka muscle mass.

Try this concept on your next workout and let me know how it works for you!

Train with Passion,

Jason

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