I started lifting a couple year ago with a friend and his dad. I never really did any research on it, but we would pretty much do the same thing, 3 days a week.


10 reps at 135
8 reps at 155
6 reps at 175
4 reps at 195
2 reps at 215 (if you can do it all, do more weight the next day)


3 sets 25

My friend and I would work our back (Rows, Pullups) and Biceps twice a week as well.

Long story short, we would do the same type of workout for everything except Pullups.

His dad always said this was more for building strength than size or look, but I want to know if there is really a big difference. I was in a car accident and finally got cleared to hit the weights again, but I'm wanting to explore other workout regimens.

A friend of mine said he does a bulking/cutting phase, and I may try that; but what is the difference, and how should I lift for each. I only have free weights if that matters.


  • You did not have squats in your routine? – Silverhorse Nov 12 '13 at 11:05
  • No, we did not. – Jacques ジャック Nov 12 '13 at 13:25
  • Just a suggestion to include squats in your routine. With barbell or weights. It exercises the larger muscles of the body like legs, core and back. It is one of the most important and impactful exercise. – Silverhorse Nov 13 '13 at 5:27

The goal when lifting for strength is to lift more weight as the weeks go by. This doesn't matter in bodybuilding, where the goal is to challenge the muscles to near-failure in order to stimulate growth.

If you aren't increasing the weight, you aren't training for strength. Lifting a slightly heavier dumbbell in each successive workout is a common method, as is adding five or so pounds to a barbell, though of course you can't add weight indefinitely. Adding weight to dips is possible as well.

  • So, would body building and lifting for "look" be the same then? I always thought they were different. – Jacques ジャック Nov 12 '13 at 13:36
  • @Jack How would they be different? Bodybuilding means training for a particular body ideal, or "look". If the "look" you want is dramatically different then it might entail different training. – Dave Liepmann Nov 12 '13 at 13:52
  • I always thought body building was about getting big and for look was to have a nice lean muscle look, but not necessarily "big" – Jacques ジャック Nov 12 '13 at 13:55
  • 1
    @Jack Muscles don't grow lean. You grow the muscle the same way and control how lean it looks by dieting to your desired level of body fat. – Dave Liepmann Nov 12 '13 at 13:56

There is often a difference in exercise selection between training for aesthetics or strength. The results can often be quite different even though both bodybuilding and strength training have many common elements.

Body building differs from pure strength training in that it emphasizes a form of hypertrophy that focuses on muscular swelling ("the pump"). The rep range for many exercises is thus in the 8-15 range rather than the low reps of olympic and power lifters. The weight is therefore often a bit lower too as the body builder is training for muscle growth through that effect. Combined with the need to target aesthetic weaknesses, bodybuilders tend to use many more isolation exercises than athletes who train for strength.

Most strength training outside of the body building focus consists of training the body to the use more muscle quickly. As result, an olympic lifter for example does almost exclusive compound barbell work on components of the snatch and clean and jerk. The goal is to train the body for explosiveness and thus his workout looks more akin to weight gymnastics than the careful concentration curls of body builder. The end result in physique can be quite different. A 250lb body builder will probably look much larger than an olympic lifter of similar strength. In particular, the body builder will have a far more developed chest in most cases. But if you put both in a strongman competition that tests overall strength abilities, the olympic lifter is far more likely to be able to succeed because his muscular and nervous system training was focused entirely on recruiting power output rather than aesthetics first.

A simple rule of thumb is that a bodybuilder will look a lot more like a hollywood strongman, extremely cut with a large upperbody, but a competitive strength lifter will look far more like a classical strongman with a smaller chest and biceps but a relatively far more developed legs and back (since that's where the power in most compound lifts is generated).


In my oppinion, there are several different goals people have when lifting weights.

As you have mentioned in your question, there is look/size/strength. There are also others such as endurance/conditioning.

I think everything can really be put into two classes;

  1. People trying to attain 'the look'
  2. People trying to attain 'strength'

Note: there can and will be crossover of the two.

Each of these can be broken down even further. Before I get into that though, there is a little bit of a standard when we talk about rep ranges (keep in mind, this is my opinion from experience and research and it is also quite a simplified look at it):

**Rep Range**
1-5 Strength Training
6-8 Size Training (Hypertrophy)
8+ Endurance Training

"The look"

People who train to look better are called body builders. You can't simply class all body builders together however, since they are also training towards different goals. Some things do remain the same in body building such as symmetry, low body fat/water during competition and higher muscle mass then the average person.

At one end of the spectrum you have the Mr Olympia's (Ronnie Coleman, Arnold Schwarzenegger), these are people who are looking to put on a ridiculous amount of muscle while keeping everything symmetrical and 'proportional'. They can walk around on stage at around 135kg at 3% body fat.

Then you have people who want to achieve an aesthetic look and train towards a physique category (Steve Cook, Lazar Angelo). There people want to put on a lot of muscle but keep it to a level where it's not overdone. Everything needs to keep to strict proportions such as a small waste with the V taper laterals.


Again, strength training can be broken down by what certain people have as their goal. The one thing that remains the same however is that they all obviously want to gain strength in some form.

At one end of the spectrum, you have the worlds strongest men and heavyweight power lifters. (Žydrūnas Savickas, Konstantīns Konstantinovs) These people can be 200kg monsters with ridiculously strong cores to assist the massive and heavy lifts they perform. They do not care about their body fat or proportions and only have the goal of getting as strong as possible.

Then you also have people who compete in other activities, one example could be MMA, where the person has to fall into a certain weight class but still wants to gain strength in order to have the edge over opponents of the same weight. (Georges St-Pierre, Jon Jones) There people keep their body fat to a minimum and while they still heavily train cardio, their lifting programs will mainly be aimed towards strength and conditioning rather than size.

In summary, there are several differences in how people train with different goals in mind. If there wasn't everyone would be training the same way. These things have been scientifically proven and tested by numerous athletes over the years so it is a known fact that certain training styles help certain goals.

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