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How do you lift for strength and muscle?

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strength and muscular endurance aren't necessarily the same thing. If you get stronger you will add more reps, and if you add more reps you will get stronger. In terms of muscle size some people will grow better lifting higher weight with less reps, while others will grow better lifting a little lesser weight for more reps. So even though there is a relationship, they aren't the same.


To cover all the bases though you'll want to keep your weights between 6-12 reps and focus on bigger compound movements ie. (bench press, squat, dead lifts, shoulder press, pull ups). Don't lift until failure on every set though. Save lifting until failure until the end of the work out, or at least until the last set of that particular exercise. Power lifters that are primarily interested in building up one rep maxes for their sport will focus on even less reps, as low as 1-4.


There is literally no way to tell you how much, or even what percentage you should lift. A 250 ib person at 30% Body fat may very be lifting much less weight than a 180 ib person at 10% bodyfat.

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Great thanks. I'm not so much worried about building big muscles but being "strong" and being able to be "stronger for longer" if you get my drift.


Though while looking for a plan a lot of places will give you a complicated, almost gimmicky workout plan.

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  • 4 weeks later...

I'd recommend crossfit type training... they do Olympic lifts (for strength building) and also do a lot of cardio type interval training (for cardio/endurance). Of course based on my experience, be careful with the lifts - I hurt my shoulder lifting too heavy, and being out of it sure doesn't make you stronger.

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i heard DC is good too


DC seems to be better for those looking to lean down for contest prep, not such a great program for those who are seeking to increase overall limit strength or strength endurance.


I'm gaining more respect for some of what Crossfit does (there are some undeniably well-built and fairly strong people who do it), but it's not going to teach anyone to be a master of great limit strength or to be "stronger for longer", since it's working to combine maximum efficiency into a short time frame. If you have a time crunch and doing maybe three 30 minute workouts per week is all you've got, it can be great, but won't necessarily give what Mythil is after.


5/3/1 is definitely a great starting point. There are also many other programs that focus on the important compound lifts in a sensible progressive manner which will also be a great starting point. Overall volume can be increased and rest periods shortened with any decent program to work to create a different environment where you can get more out of a workout in equal or less time as well. If you want to increase general strength, stick to what works (squats, deadlifts, rows, chins, overhead pressing and benching), build a foundation first, and increase volume for workload and decrease rest periods later on down the line. It's much more ideal to build strength first and THEN work on improving strength endurance than it is the other way around. The stronger you are, the more you'll find that you indirectly increase your general strength endurance in many cases without even trying.


For example, when I could do a fairly easy deep squat w/ 500 lbs., I found with an experiment that right afterward, I was able to squat 225 lbs. for 30 reps without it being anywhere near what I expected for difficulty. I hadn't done ANY work for endurance, most of my lifts were done in the 1-5 rep range (rarely did I go above 5 reps in a set), and I had thought my endurance was going to be terrible - I was actually just hoping for 20 reps, but once 20 came and I didn't have to rest, I aimed for 30. The fact that I could warm up my squats with 315 lbs. (not that it was smart, that's just how I did it back then) and be hitting 500 within 10 mintues of walking in the gym every time during that period meant that I'd managed to dramatically increase my strength endurance with lighter weights without putting ANY focus on it. Now, had I made it my initial goal to squat 225 for 30 reps and THEN decided to work toward hitting 500, it would have been a disaster and I'd probably have been lucky to have gotten more than 400-450 lbs. max since the endurance part often doesn't carry over as well to maximum limit strength. Sounds a bit odd, but many times, that's just how it works for people.


So, to make my long-winded post wrap up nicely, it can be summed up as this - build your strength foundation first, work on improving your endurance second, and you should get what you want. It's a LOT easier to cut a few seconds off of rest periods or to add a rep or two to your sets down the line than it is to add 10% to your max in a lift on any given day. Stick with lifts that yield the greatest results, avoid isolation work and machines while you're building your base, follow a sensible progressive program, and you're good to go!

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5/3/1 is a great program, but it depends if you know all the main compound lifts - squat/bench/deadlifts/OHP/rows. If you don't (or haven't done them for a long time, or technique needs work), the main 5/3/1 templates simply don't have enough practice for these lifts in a week (typically just once a week, and one heavy set). It also doesn't load weight quick enough for beginners.


5x5 training (Starting Strength, Stronglifts, Glenn Pendlays programs) are great for beginners or anyone new to the main lifts for a lot of reasons

1. They start off light, but load weight quickly

2. You're squatting 3x/week and doing the other lifts multiple times a week, LOTS of needed practice

3. Linear progression. Beginners don't need to deload.

4. No bullshit exercises and simple to follow

5. Not time consuming, only 3x/week

6. Minimal equipment. Don't need dumbbells, machines, bands etc.

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  • 11 months later...

5/3/1 is great, simple and works really well. Brandon Lilly's 'The Cube Method' is also worth looking into, I got great gains from that and I'd recommend it for anyone primarily looking at gaining and maximising strength across the three big lifts.


As was mentioned above, muscular strength and muscular strength are quite different so it's good to be clear on what you're after before you start. Cheers MF.

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