Just get stronger
How do you get stronger without getting bigger? In my own training, this is my exact goal: I want to be as strong as possible while being as light as possible. I don’t want to have a hard time fitting in jeans or shirts and I definitely don’t want to go down the rabbit hole of eating a million calories a day to maintain those big muscles. I did that in college and it was exhausting and expensive, would not recommend it.
For most men and women, the goal is to simply look better, be stronger, and feel better. They are not trying to rip the seams of their t-shirts. Unfortunately, thanks to social standards, most people associate any strength training with big bulky muscles. While the only way to get big muscles is to strength train, it doesn’t have to always lead to big, bulky muscles.
As with anything, the key is with how you do it. All too often I see people who want to avoid being bulky doing workouts that are high reps with the thought that the lighter weight will help them avoid bulkiness. While that is true, all you’re doing with high reps are working on muscle endurance, not muscle strength.
To get stronger without getting bigger, you need to lift heavy weight for only a few reps and over more sets. That’s the key, low reps, high weight, lots of sets.
What does this look like? Well, if I was doing a squat workout, doing something like 5 sets of 5 reps would allow me to do a really high weight for my strength without tearing the muscles up too much causing them to build back bigger.
The bottom line is this: having stronger muscles is the fastest way to weight loss. Why? Because strong muscles are expensive! They cost a TON of calories to maintain and so increasing their strength means that you will be burning more calories throughout the day than you would without having strong muscles. Now, people will always through the cardio question out there. Cardio will help you, but only to a certain extent. After a while, you will need to spend hours and hours doing whatever cardio you prefer to continue to see results. With weight lifting, you just increase the weight and the ball keeps rolling.
Jordan Tank, Personal Trainer, Columbus, Ohio
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