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Looking Strong Vs Being Strong, a.k.a. Mass Building Vs Strength Building

April 11, 2014


You may have seen a guy in a bodybuilding competition with huge bulging muscles and naturally assumed that he was extremely strong. As a child, you may have watched that old school cartoon “Popeye the Sailor Man” and assumed that by making your muscles extra big, you’d automatically get super strong.

Then, one day you were at the gym and you noticed a little, slim person lifting a massive amount of weight, or you may have seen someone with a ripped, muscular build struggling to lift an average amount of weight. It was then that you realized that there wasn’t always a correlation between looking strong and being strong.

What do you want to achieve when working out


Decide whether you want to work out to merely look good or if you want to work out because you’d love to increase your strength.

There are actually warring camps out there who dispute whether there is even a difference between the two types of workouts.

The people who believe that they’re pretty much the same thing explain their position by stating that even if you only want to look good, you still need to build muscle to get that way.

By building muscle, they reason, you’re automatically building strength as well.

Some people point to powerlifters as proof that building muscle doesn’t automatically equal building muscle that makes you look good. Many powerlifters are considered fat, but they’re massively strong.

Full body workout

If you’re planning on working out just so that you can look good and feel great in your clothes, you merely need to create a full body workout that places an emphasis on muscle building. Squats are extremely important because they’ll help you build powerfully larger (or larger) legs. Dead-lifts are key to building the mid to lower back.

A well executed bench press is key to developing a well-cut and massive chest.

Increase your strength without changing your form

Some people want to create workouts that increase their strength without changing their form too much. Athletes like runners are members of one such group.

The key here is increasing the neural impulses to your muscles. By doing so, you’re increasing your muscles’ abilities to generate more force.

Your first step should be to incorporate the muscle-building exercises above. They are key to building muscle as well as strength.

Then, focus on increasing muscle strength. Use barbells, as they allow you to gradually increase the amount of weight you lift.

Focus on maintaining your reps in a steady and controlled way as you lift. When you get to the raised part of the lift, pause for a second before going down. A consistent and even rhythm will help you build strength. Focus on doing five types of reps during each workout.

Building muscle and/or strength shouldn’t be too difficult. Figure out exactly what your goal is, and take the appropriate steps to reach it.

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