Like they say, you have to know where you’re going if you ever hope to get there. It’s the same with weight training. Simply saying: “I want to be bigger and stronger” isn’t accurate enough. How big? How strong? You have to know – or you won’t stand a cat in hells chance of getting there.
You see, there are different types of programs which can have very different results – particularly over a prolonged length of time. Let me explain to you the two main types of weight lifting programs: bodybuilding programs, and strength programs.
It’s somewhat confusing because, technically, bodybuilding is strength training. You lift, and you get stronger. But, for their extreme amount of muscle, even the biggest bodybuilder would struggle (or outright fail) to replicate the kind of raw poundage lifts of even a strength trainee with a body that looked like it was built by ice cream.
That’s because bodybuilding works on the slow twitch muscles of the body. The muscles of most people’s bodies tend to be majority slow twitch, and they are worked and built by slower, higher reps.
If size is all you care about, and you don’t really care for speed or explosive strength for athletic performance, then a bodybuilding program is the path for you to take.
Like bodybuilding, strength training does build muscle. It also relies on progressive resistance to build size and strength. But, strength training is all about strength, and speed, and these two things only. It doesn’t matter what you look like if all you want is strength. But, don’t get me wrong – you can build a very respectable body which not only looks the part, but is the part, with strength training. It may just take longer and undoubtedly has more limitations than bodybuilding on the aesthetics front.
Strength and speed training is done by using very heavy weights – heavier than bodybuilding training – which can only be lifted for a few repetitions per set – usually no more than 6.
So, what do you want?
It’s worth noting that many smart bodybuilders have long since realised there is aesthetic benefits to be had from incorporating strength exercises or having power training sessions – but I would doubt most bodybuilding routines would do much for a strength trainee, and would probably even be detrimental.