S.O.S. - Strength or Size? Part II


Adding dumbbell exercises

Adding dumbbell exercises

Last month we looked at the need for a foundation of strength for a better body. The recommendation was for a month of training that focused on strength. To do this we kept exercises simple, basic and heavy. The rep range was 3-5 per set with 1 to 3 minutes of rest between sets. Now that we have grown in strength it is time to grow in size. A small increase in strength is easily transformed into a significant increase in size in the following routine format. Let’s look at the three aspects of the routine formats that we work with.

A – Exercise selection

B – Rep range

C – Rest between sets

Note: Time per workout is about the same. 35-45 minutes is a good range.

Now we will see the differences between the strength size routines.

Strength Size

A – 1-3 basic compound full body moves

3-4 compound & isolation moves

B – 3-5 reps per set

8-12 reps per set

C – 1-3 minutes rest between sets

0-60 sec rest between sets





Note: In addition to time per workout to be relatively constant the weight used is to be as heavy as the rep range will allow.

Ed's blue collar body

Ed's blue collar body

The obvious difference in the size routine is the dramatic increase of volume. What I mean is there are more exercises, greater reps and more sets because the rest between sets is shorter.

I believe it is imperative that you know the principles or the why of what you are doing. That being the case an analogy is in order. Most of us appreciate horsepower. The horsepower of an engine is determined by basically two factors, torque and revolutions per minute (RPM). A farm tractor has plenty of stump pulling horsepower because of an abundance of torque. A formula one car has race winning horsepower because of an abundance of RPM. In the weight training world torque = strength while RPM = volume. It is strength x volume that increases muscle size. A small amount of increased strength 5 to 10% times a larger increase in volume 50% plus equals a better more muscular body. Now we are ready to change the strength routine of last month into a size routine.

Monday & Thursday

Deadlift & shrugs at 50% of strength training weight or less followed immediately by dumbbell squat followed immediately by frog jumps. Rest 1 minute then repeat above cycle as many times as possible in 30 minutes. A frog jump is simply jumping up as high as you can from a crouched position using only your body weight.

Tuesday & Friday

Narrow grip full or ½ rep chin ups followed by standing dumbbell presses followed by alternating dumbbell curls followed by dumbbell side laterals then rest for 1 minute. Repeat above cycle as many times as possible in 30 minutes.

Wednesday & Saturday

The foundation for the upper body consists of chin ups & dips.  Curls, laterals, etc are added on top of that foundation

The foundation for the upper body consists of chin ups & dips. Curls, laterals, etc are added on top of that foundation

Parallel bar dips or negatives only followed by regular pushups followed by French curls or skull crushes followed by incline dumbbell flys rest one minute. Repeat cycle as often as possible in 30 minutes.

You can do a negative only dip by lowering yourself on parallel bars then standing up to bring yourself to the top position. Like the strength routine this size routine can be performed two times a week or once a week as your schedule or recuperative powers allow. If you complete as many sets as you can in the 8-12 rep range you will grow large muscles. In this routine volume is key!