276233So you’re looking to gain strength without any added muscle hey? You want to be that guy that nobody thinks can do anything in the gym until you step foot into a squat rack and unleash your power. Gaining strength without size is common for many sports athletes such as gymnasts, wrestlers, and professional fighters, etc. who want the strength, but don’t want to be overly bulky to the point where it affects performance.

But I heard that you need to eat more to gain strength? Doesn’t eating more make you bigger?

This is a misconception that many people have it terms of strength. Sure being bigger and bulky does to a point have an effect on your strength, but have you ever seen a smaller guy lift more weights than a bigger guy in the gym? The one thing to note is that strength is NOT solely due to the amount of muscle mass one has, but rather it’s more of a neurological property. If you look at Olympic weight lifters, they will often stay in the same weight category, but their strength continues to increase over time. So before we head onto the tips, I want to be sure you understand that you get stronger by:

1) Your body increasing the number of muscle fibers in the muscle itself
2) Your body increases the firing frequency of motor neurons, which means that your body is more effective in recruiting the exact fibers needed to lift the weight

So here are the 3 quick tips to gain strength without size: 

1) Focus on low repetitions

You should be lifting at a rep range that is under 5 reps for maximum strength gains. Low reps are effective at increasing the number of muscle fibers in the actual muscle itself, instead of adding volume to the muscle.

Read about two types of muscle stimulation here.

2) Lift explosively

Force is equal to (mass)x(acceleration). The quicker you can lift the weight, the more force you’ll be able to apply in lifting the weight itself. This doesn’t mean that you should be lifting 90% of your one rep max though. Strength is best achieved by lifting a weight which you can perform no more than 5 reps with. Load the bar and focus on pushing that weight quickly.

3) Lower the volume of your workouts and increase frequency

If you want to get stronger, you train the muscle group more often. I can hear you guys now, but how can I train so often when my muscles are sore for days after? The key here is to lift with high intensity, but very low volume. Don’t beat the crap out of your muscles. This will allow your body to recover quicker, so you can train muscles more frequently to see quicker strength gains.

These are pretty much my 3 tips to you for gaining strength without size. Though there is no way for you to completely get super strong without any added muscle, these tips will surely help you stay slim and pack on strength.


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John considers himself as a fitness enthusiast who loves to do anything to keep the body in peak physical performance (much like a highly tuned machine). He mainly focuses on sports nutrition and supplement research, but is also highly knowledgeable in relation to muscle growth and fat loss. He's helped numerous people over the years achieve the body that they've always wanted and hopes his information will guide you to the goals you want.

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