Gaining Strength Without Getting Bigger:
The first thing that needs to be known is that gaining strength without adding bulk will not work. If it were possible then everyone would do it. However, there are many reasons why this won’t happen. One reason is because you have to start with a certain level of fitness before you can even begin working out at all.
Another reason is because you need to make sure your body composition is correct before you can even think about adding muscle mass. And finally, another reason is because you need to take into consideration the time required to complete these workouts.
Building Strength Without Adding Bulk:
There are several ways that one could go about building strength without adding bulk. These include doing high intensity interval training (HIIT), heavy weights, and compound exercises such as squats or deadlifts. There are other methods that involve various types of cardio, but they don’t require much time and energy.
High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT):
HIIT stands for High Intensity Interval Training. HIIT is a type of exercise where you perform a series of short bursts of activity followed by rest periods between each burst. Sounds simple, but it’s not. In the bursts you are supposed to give it your all, and for most people this means getting your heart rate up to 80-90% of maximum.
To give you a sense of what this means, an average person will have a maximum heart rate of around 200. Therefore, if you are doing an exercise where you reach 90%, this would mean that your heart is pumping at 180 beats per minute. If you were to do this for most of your cardio exercises, then you’d only need to jog or walk for 5-10 minutes a day. The rest of the time you could spend lifting weights or doing other types of cardio afterward (such as swimming, biking, etc.)
If you don’t have access to equipment or prefer to work out at home, there are also some online programs that have been proven effective for HIIT workouts. One in particular that has been rated well is the 7-minute workout. There is even an app for your phone, so you can get access to it anywhere. When doing this type of exercise it’s important to push yourself.
Start with a lower intensity and work your way up as you get more fit.
I also prefer doing heavy weights. I like focusing on compound exercises such as squats, deadlifts, bench press, shoulder press, etc. Some of these exercises work out multiple muscle groups at the same time. This is part of the reason why I like them so much.
You could probably get a similar workout just using bodyweight exercises, but for me I’ve found that I need to lift heavy weights in order to maximize my results.
It’s important to note that when I say heavy weights, I don’t mean going to a gym and loading a barbell with hundreds of pounds. You have to start with a low weight that you know you can lift at least 10 times. Then you gradually add more as you get stronger. This is known as “progressive overload” and it’s a method that has been used for decades by bodybuilders and fitness enthusiasts alike.
Progressive Overload is a simple concept of adding more weight or reps every time you do a specific exercise. It’s one of the corner stones of getting stronger. If you don’t challenge your body, then it won’t get any stronger. A good guideline for this is to try to increase either the weight, the number of reps, or set amount of times you perform an exercise every week.
The below video is a great example of how you can get a total body workout done in under 20 minutes.
Compound Exercises (Chest & Triceps):
I start off my workout with compound exercises (example: Chest & Tricep exercise). Compound exercises are where you work multiple muscles groups at the same time. This allows me to get the most out of my workout in the shortest amount of time. For example, the bench press not only works your chest, but it also works your shoulder and tricep muscles as well.
After I’ve done my first set of a particular exercise I try to increase either the weight, the number of reps, or the amount of sets that I do every week. This is known as Progressive Overload, and it’s a critical component of getting stronger. If you don’t challenge your body, then it has no reason to get stronger.
When you first start lifting you might find that you’ve increased your bench by 10 pounds in a month, but then the next month you might only increase it by 3-5 pounds. This is perfectly normal and just means that your body has become accustomed to the exercise. The best way to fix this is to either increase the weight or try to increase your reps.
Another benefit of compound exercises is that they help improve your overall strength. This is helpful because as you become stronger, everyday tasks such as lifting your kids or carrying groceries suddenly get a lot easier.
Isolation Exercises (Abs, Forearms & Lower Back):
After I’ve done my compound exercises I like to move on to Isolation exercises. Isolation exercises are where you work one particular muscle group. This is great for targeting certain problem areas and it also helps improve your muscular definition.
For example, I like to do a couple sets of sit-ups and crunches to work on my abs. You would be surprised at how strong your core muscles are and what a difference it can make when it comes to moving heavy objects (which we all tend to do on a daily basis).
Another important reason for doing isolation exercises is injury prevention. Especially as you get older, it becomes increasingly important to work on your weaker muscles groups in order to stay active and maintain your independence. You don’t want to put unnecessary stress on your larger muscles (legs and back) and end up with a hernia, or worse, having to have surgery because of a torn abdominal muscle.
Isolation exercises are also great for working on your muscular definition. It’s common for guys to just do the big three (Bench, squat and dead lift) and avoid doing any other exercise. The problem with this is that as you get bigger and stronger your body starts to naturally thicken and you end up looking “blocky” instead of having a lean, athletic look.
There are some great resources online if you want to see which muscles groups need to be worked on to achieve a certain “look”. Once you find a “look” that you’re aiming for, it becomes a lot easier to stay focused on your exercise routine.
Forums and communities are also a great way to stay motivated. It’s always more fun to work out with a buddy and there are plenty of people in the same boat as you that are looking to get into shape.
As for me, I’m currently working on my muscular definition. I’ve already achieved all of the strength that I’m going to achieve (or at least enough to pass the PT test when I get called up) so now it’s all about looks.
So those are the basics of what you need to know to get started with weight lifting. Like anything else it takes practice and dedication. You’ll find that these communities are very supportive and will give you advice on which exercises work best, as well as offer tips on how to stay motivated.
I also like to do some isolation exercises for my forearms and lower back. These are critical muscle groups for maintaining a good grip. The last thing you want is to be stuck half way under a car unable to grab ahold of the transmission bolt because your forearm muscles gave out! Give it some time and you’ll start seeing results.
Get your free weight routine started today so you can have the body of your dreams in no time.
Also, stay away from lifting belts. Most PT’s will allow you to use one but they’re considered a “crutch” and can take away from the core strengthening that you’re supposed to be doing. Plus, don’t be fooled, they don’t actually prevent your back from hurting; it’ll still hurt regardless of whether you’re using one or not. If you need extra back support then get a good lumbar support cushion for your desk chair or sofa.
Remember, don’t over do it! Listen to your body and rest when you need to.
If you enjoyed this article, you might also enjoy my Book: Guide To Lifting.
It’s 100% Free.
Sign up Below to receive your copy now!
FREE TRANSFORMATION BIBLE Subscribe below and I’ll send you a copy of my eBook for free! Subscribe We never spam!
That’s about it for now. I’ll write more in the future, but right now I want to get this post up so that you guys can get started as soon as possible.
Trust me, it’s a lot of fun once you see yourself starting to get stronger. You’ll feel like a new man! Your confidence will grow as well when you see your physical strength improve. It’s kind of like being a kid again.
Take care and stay strong.
OK guys, I’ll catch you all later.
P.S. If you haven’t already, be sure to sign up for the newsletter so you can get weekly updates and articles sent directly to you when they’re released. You won’t be disappointed.
Sources & references used in this article:
Developing β-type bulk metallic glass composites from Ti/Zr-based bulk metallic glasses by an iteration method by L Zhang, H Fu, H Li, Z Zhu, H Zhang, W Li, Y Li… – Journal of Alloys and …, 2018 – Elsevier
Bulk adhesive strength of recombinant hybrid mussel adhesive protein by HJ Cha, DS Hwang, S Lim, JD White, CR Matos-Perez… – Biofouling, 2009 – Taylor & Francis
Metal frame reinforced bulk metallic glass composites by Z Li, M Zhang, N Li, L Liu – Materials Research Letters, 2020 – Taylor & Francis
Mg-based bulk metallic glass composites with plasticity and gigapascal strength by YK Xu, H Ma, J Xu, E Ma – Acta Materialia, 2005 – Elsevier
Is It Really Possible To Bulk Year Round Without Losing Your Abs? by AI Learned, MMGBT Explode – oakbuiltfitness.com
Polymer-fiber composite building material with bulk and aesthetically functional fillers by O Guiselin, H Kalkanoglu, CP Le Goff… – US Patent …, 2009 – Google Patents
Effect of rice husk ash on the strength and durability characteristics of concrete by H Chao-Lung, B Le Anh-Tuan, C Chun-Tsun – Construction and building …, 2011 – Elsevier