There are a lot of suggestions to do 8-12 reps with short rest for size and less reps with longer rest for strength. Won't my strength increase if I do size workouts with gradual increase of the weights?

  • If you're a novice, you'll gain both strength and size quickly. The trade-offs between size and strength are more applicable to an intermediate lifter. Focus on strength early on because if you want to be big, a year from now you'll want to do 8-12 reps. If you're stronger, you'll be doing more weight on those reps as if you had gone for size early on.
    – Eric
    Jun 29, 2015 at 18:12

3 Answers 3


Yes. Generally speaking, anything that utilizes your ATP/Creatine Phosphate system will increase both size and strength. The threshold for that system begins at around 70% of your one-rep max.

That said, if strength is your only goal, you would train at rep ranges that purely utilize this system, rather than ranges that also utilize the glycolytic system:

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Yes, but it depends on how advanced you are.

If you've been lifting for several years, you'll generally need to focus more and more on one aspect of training in order to see results. If you're just starting out, you'll get stronger/faster/bigger/leaner doing practically any kind of weightlifting. But as those 'newbie gains' taper off, most lifters find they need to program their training to concentrate on specific goals.

Exactly when that transition occurs depends on how often you train, how intensely you train, and your own genetics/hormone levels.

  • 1
    Even for those who are advanced, strength and size correlate substantially. Ronnie Coleman deadlifts 410 kg and bench presses 230 kg, Arnold (who wasn't that big) also have high records. They are nowhere near professional powerlifters, but way higher than the average gym rat.
    – Mårten
    Jun 30, 2015 at 8:46

Yeah, but not much.

Training for size will guarantee muscular endurance because you're working on exhausting the muscles in order to grow.

This will increase your strength, but not much.

For example, if you're performing 4 sets of 15 reps of bicep curls with a 30-lb dumbbell, you should be able to perform 2 sets of 5-10 reps with a 35-lb dumbbell. That's an increase in strength.

However, because the focus isn't on strength training, gains in strength will be slower.

Equally important, if strength isn't the goal, your strength will peak. As the weight increases, the number of reps performed will increase. The strength to pump 1 set of 10 reps of bicep curls with a 100-lb dumbbell is much higher than that of a 30-lb dumb bell. Doing 4 sets of those might not be worthwhile for you, especially if your goal can be achieved with smaller weights.

So, when you realize you don't need higher weights to achieve size, you'll stop increasing the weights in order to focus on size.

  • 1
    I don't think it's accurate to say that your strength doesn't increase much when your size is increasing. The optimal rep count for size is around 10, doing 1-5 reps/set will certainly increase your strength more, especially for beginners when you're adapting neurologically, but in the long run, you will gain both strength and size in substantial amounts either way.
    – Mårten
    Jun 30, 2015 at 8:43
  • @Mårten Regardless of the number of reps, your strength increases as the load increases. If you don't increase the weight, your strength will not increase. As the weight increases to a certain level, it might become difficult to perform optimal reps for bodybuilding purposes. At that point, the decision to either increase the load and reduce the reps (strength) or reduce the load and increase the reps (bodybuilding) will be needed. At that point, your strength will remain stagnant. In the long run, power trainers will have higher strength than bodybuilders. Diff goals, diff results. Jul 1, 2015 at 5:30

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