During my perusing on the clock app the other day, I saw a guy perform an impressive log clean and press at somewhere in the ballpark of 350 pounds. It was a really impressive lift! While checking out the comments, I noticed one person who left the comment “Mass moves mass.” Clearly, this comment was meant to play down the feat of strength. The commenter was quickly corrected, but this did put a thought into my head. Mass does, in fact, move mass. Now, that doesn’t mean that just because someone is large that they will be able to lift a lot of weight. For example, someone who is very obese and doesn’t have a lot of muscle mass will not have much success, but nonetheless, a larger person is typically going to be stronger. Afterall, the strongest men in the world are certainly not small with most of them measuring well over six feet tall in height and some pushing 400 pounds in body weight. This is why combat sports have weight classes. Someone who is larger and heavier will clearly have an advantage over someone who is smaller and lighter.
Clearly, most of us are not going to have the body frame of a World’s Strongest Man competitor like Tom Stoltman or a heavyweight powerlifter like Dan Bell, but there is still plenty of benefit to gaining size for us average strength athletes. As we advance in our abilities to display strength, the physical toll on our bodies will increase. The stress on our joints will increase and the risk of injury increases. We can spend as much time as we want dialing in technique and optimizing our programs for strength oriented progression, at some point, we’re going to need to be able to have some more body mass under the weight. Having more muscle mass increases our potential to produce force. Yes, technique will always matter when it comes to lifting heavy weights, but if we are able to recruit more muscle fibers while trying to exert force, we will have a much easier time. Neural adaptation is a really big part of lifting heavy weights, but more muscle mass makes the process a bit easier. Think of your muscles as if they were a car’s engine. A four cylinder engine can exceed speeds of 100 miles per hour, but a V8 engine can get to 100 miles per hour much quicker.
“But what about those guys who weigh 165 pounds and can deadlift 700 pounds?” Yeah, I’ve seen those guys too. They can fit into a medium sized t-shirt and can move a tremendous amount of weight. However, that is a product of really specialized training. They are tremendously effective at doing those particular tasks. I would have to imagine that the results would be much different with different strength movements. Would you rather be really strong at very specific movements, or have a stronger body in general? Do yourself a big favor and fill out your frame. Don’t be afraid to go up a pant size. Like I said before, having more muscle fibers to recruit makes it easier to exert force. A good example of this is a bodybuilder. Bodybuilders compete in physique competitions instead of strength competitions. Just because they train for looks, it doesn’t mean they can’t display a crazy amount of strength. Ronnie Coleman was well known for not only having a tremendous amount of success on the stage, but also for his ability to squat 800 pounds. That’s nothing to shake a stick at. There are a lot of strength athletes who would give you their left hand to be able to squat 800 pounds.
To get bigger, that does mean that you’re going to have to make some changes to your nutrition. You’re going to have to eat more. Now, you’re probably thinking that you don’t want to put on a bunch of body fat to get stronger. That doesn’t have to be the case. If someone tells you to drink a gallon of milk everyday, that’s probably not the best advice. Putting on good lean mass requires the same amount of discipline it takes to lose weight. That is by making small incremental changes to your daily caloric intake. It would be best to seek the advice of a dietician or someone with a background in nutrition, but the gist is basically to slowly increase your caloric intake over time. Adding as little as 100 calories to your daily intake every week or so can help put on good muscle mass and minimize the fat gain. Yes, you will put on a little pudge, but that’s okay. You can shed it off later.
You’re also going to need to look at your approach to training. Programs for strength training generally like to be in the 80% and up range with sets of five and lower. That is ideal for generating force. However, when it comes to putting on some mass, it is a good idea to start using reps as a progression metric. Start thinking sets of ten, twelve, fifteen and higher. The reason is because as you start pushing yourself into those higher rep ranges, your muscles are going to fatigue and start trying to recruit the muscles around it to produce force. This level of fatigue is what helps promote growth. Bodybuilders and strength athletes alike have been using that approach for a long time. Go ask any high level competitor, and they will tell you that they spend at least some portion of their training cycles pushing into higher rep ranges to promote hypertrophy. Working in the higher rep ranges not only promote growth, but they also help build your work capacity and conditioning. That’ll be useful when it’s time to push the heavier weights again. Don’t be afraid to put a little hair on your chest and some size on your ass, and push those reps!
If you are within driving distance of Baton Rouge and need a place to train for your next strongman competition, powerlifting meet or weightlifting meet, check out the Atlas Strength shop for all of your training needs. Send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org for your next visit. You can also check out our apparel line and programming options on our website. Be sure to like our Facebook page, here, and follow us on Instagram, here. Do you need a high quality energy supplement that won’t leave you with that crashing feeling? Check out veteran owned strikeforceenergy.com and use promo code ATLASSTRENGTH at checkout to get 20% off of your order. If you’re like me, and you like to bite down while lifting, you need to protect your teeth. Check out Impact Mouthguards and their custom molded mouth guards. Use promo code ATLASSTRENGTHSHOP at checkout to get 10% off of your order. But wait? What if you have a glorious Beard? Check out FerociousBeard.com and use Promo Code “ATLASSTRENGTH” to save 15% on all o your beard care!!
On November 19, 2022, the Atlas Strength Shop will be hosting its third annual strongman competition, the Rougarou Classic. If you are interested in competing, check out the event page on