How To Gain Muscle Part 5 – Size Follows Strength

Alpha Physique

Read parts 1-4 of this muscle gain series – here, here, here and here.


Strength and Size

More strength is more muscle. If you lift big, you get big. This is why the best bodybuilders that ever existed were strong like bulls. They knew strength equals size.

Here’s how this works: placing stress on your muscles causes them to adapt, assuming you eat enough food. If you don’t eat enough food, there will come a point whereby you can no longer keep increasing the stress, hence, adaptation (growth) ceases to occur.

Lifting heavy weights stresses your body and muscles. Essentially, it’s a case of “what doesn’t kill you can only make you stronger.” Unless you get injured. Put simply, you lift big, you get big (assuming you’re smart).

All the major bodybuilders over time understood this, with many of them competing in powerlifting, totalling over 1700 pounds. There’s a long list of top bodybuilders who can lift big, heavy weights. If you look back at some of the major bodybuilders over time;

  • Frank Columbo
  • Arnold Schwarzenegger
  • Dorian Yates
  • Reg Park
  • Ronnie Coleman
  • etc.

These guys, particularly Arnold/Reg spent years on strength routines that focused on the main compound movements. Arnold emphasised his “Big 6” routine, and Reg (Arnold’s idol) utilised a basic 5*5 for years. This is where they built the foundations.

Sure, they might sneak curls in here and there. But the bulk of their training consists of heavy squats, presses and pulls because that’s what muscle growth demands. Their physique is therefore the result of doing a lot heavy lifting.

Some people think strength training doesn’t build muscle because they’ve seen fat powerlifters. Powerlifters in the heaviest weight classes, sure, they don’t look great. But, I can assure you they’re massive – it’s just all hidden away under a “layer of blubber”. Like a seal, you could say.

The pro-bodybuilding mutants are of course more ripped than 300lb powerlifters. The bodybuilder is strict about his diet, uses all kinds of drugs to get more cut, and is tanned. The latter just eats a ton to maximize muscle recovery and break world records. Different goals.

Here’s how to compare – take a 180lb powerlifter and 180lb natural bodybuilder. Put them side to side without tanning and at similar body-fat levels. The average person wouldn’t be able to tell who the powerlifter is. They’d probably call them both bodybuilders. Heck, they call me a bodybuilder.

Powerlifters win, simply by lifting heavier than their competitors. And since there are weight classes, they manipulate their body-weight to end in the category in which they’re most competitive. Small powerlifters often eat strictly to avoid weight gain. They don’t want to end in a heavier category.

Celebrities and Muscle

But strength is size. Even celebrities have caught on and are now lifting heavy. Hugh Jackman, Henry Cavill and Chris Hemsworth all spring to mind – Wolverine, Superman and Thor, respectively.

Hugh Jackman pulls 461lb and he’s almost 50. He had a point when he wrote on twitter:

“If the bar isn’t bending, you’re just pretending.”

Curls don’t bend bars. Heavy squats and deadlifts do. Maybe you don’t care about strength, you just want to build muscle. But lifting heavy is what it takes.

I know a lot of you are all about the “Hollywood Physique.” The secret to this is, (and most people won’t tell you this, as of course there is always some magic supplement that does it all ;)) to simply lift heavy weights, focusing on gradual progressive overload over time.

Of course, make sure your form is good. Getting injured is horrendous for long term results, obviously. But people don’t seem to understand this until they actually get injured, so I have to keep repeating myself.


Now, strength is size doesn’t mean you have to pull over 700 pounds. I certainly can’t. But, the point is that if you’re getting stronger, especially on your main lifts, you will undoubtedly be getting bigger too. Even if the size gains aren’t noticeable instantly, they will come with time.

And yet most people will make all kinds of excuses to not lift heavy. They’ll do gazillion of exercises and chase pump instead. But this doesn’t work because building size requires gaining strength. You need to lift heavy to increase your overall muscle mass naturally. Get to work, and start lifting heavy – focusing on the Big 6:

  • Deadlifts
  • Squats
  • Bench
  • Press
  • Rows
  • Pull-Ups


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