Sure, you want your muscles to look massive, but you can put on size/girth (hypertrophy), without actually building strength. As a bodybuilder, this is one of the worst mistakes you can make. For those who are new to the world of bodybuilding, you need to understand the importance of developing strength, rather than simply putting on mass. Here we’ll focus on why it is so important for you to develop strength, as you put on mass.
The Adaptation Process: How Your Body Works in Survival Mode
Think about it for a minute. When you’re lifting weights, you’re putting additional stress on your body. What’s the reaction? Your body is going to adapt for it to survive. As humans, adaptation is our means of survival. When it comes to bodybuilding, this is also the case. You put stress on your body (weight), it adapts, and selectively finds ways to respond to the situation you’re putting it in.
With bodybuilding, you’ll have to develop a conscious communication with your body throughout the process. As you adapt, you find new ways to grow, new ways to apply added stress, and in turn, your body again selectively responds for it to survive. For you to build strength and grow, you need to physically communicate with your body. Let’s focus on the importance of building strength first, and things you’ll want to avoid as a beginner, to ensure your body adapts and survives in the environment you’re placing it in.
Building Strength Should be Your Primary Goal as a Beginner
You always want to begin your journey with the primary focus and goal of building strength. What good is hypertrophy-alone, if you can’t lift the groceries out of your car, or lift an awkward item in the office because you don’t have the strength to do so? Strength is important because you need it! Think about that for a second. You need strength to
- Push or pull heavy objects
- Get out of a compromising situation if you’re stuck somewhere
- Help your family/friend if they’re in trouble
- Lift a heavy object off of you, and so forth.
If you don’t have the physical strength to do these things, how are you going to get out of a difficult situation? And, if you have large muscles, which aren’t properly developed, what good is that when you’re in a stressful, dangerous, or otherwise compromising situation?
As you can see by these simple examples, strength is something you NEED, while hypertrophy, or large muscles, is more of a want. And, remember as we mentioned earlier, with any new bodybuilding routine, you’re going to put on mass and look larger, it’s the nature of lifting.
The greatest difference in building strength versus building mass is volume and repetition. With hypertrophy, you need to put in more volume training. This means for every exercise you’re performing, you’re doing more reps for that body part, you’re increasing training volume. With building strength, on the other hand, we’re more focused on increasing mass and reducing reps. So, you’re adding on more weight, so your muscles and body will get stronger, for shorter periods.
This should be your goal early on as a bodybuilder. Have more strength, so you have more ability. The stronger you are, the more you can do. This is the sole importance of building strength, versus simply trying to look bigger.
What you want to Avoid as a Beginner (and as you Advance)
Okay, so now that we’ve focused on building for strength versus building for size/hypertrophy, what should you avoid doing as a new bodybuilder? We know why it’s important for you to build strength, and we’ve focused on the importance of increasing mass versus increasing repetition. Some things you’ll want to avoid when you’re just getting started with a new routine are
- Overworking a muscle group: Therefore, don’t overwork a single muscle group day in and day out. You’re not going to see the results you want, and you aren’t going to grow as massive as you think you are.
- Doing too many reps: Instead, focus on the heavier weight, fewer reps, and shorter recovery periods between reps
- Too much rest between sets
- Workouts not centered around core muscle groups
- Not warming up properly
The Final Word…
Regardless of how bulky you ultimately choose to become, you always want to start the process with developing strength. For those who are new to bodybuilding, any program you take on will build both size and strength. The simple fact that your load managing, and you probably have a smaller/leaner frame, means you’re going to bulk up. Set a goal, build your strength, then focus on hypertrophy through repetition. It’s the best approach, will result in a well-developed frame, and will also ensure you don’t injure yourself in the process.