Most people seem to focus solely on one vs. the other, but I'd imagine many people want both. Can you train for both of them adequately? For example, train to get bigger and maximize muscle size; but also train to get stronger and be able to lift more weight and have more overall power too.

I follow my own routines which work for me, but I can't comment on how "efficient" they are for anyone else -- and I can't say they're positively the best method for me either. Basically, here's what I do:

I set aside one "brutal" day -- that is, a day where the muscles are worked very, VERY hard. I combine higher reps with lower weights, and higher weight with lower reps -- and often go to failure or beyond. I do not limit reps and go anywhere from 1 to sometimes 50+. I basically combine elements of power, strength, endurance, and hypertrophy in to one workout as feasibly as I possibly can.

I notice results, but they're not very fast -- but that could be just the way my body is. No workout is "perfect" -- people often have to find what's the best their body can do. I believe my body can't do much better, so I generally stick to what years of experience and reasonably acceptable results gets me. So, back to the point, can you have the best of both or "all" worlds, or am I going at it the tougher way? I don't care personally -- I just want to know if doing both is more efficient or not. I know I can make heads or tails either way since I'm dedicated and motivated enough to accomplish anything.

  • 1
    Yes. Yes you can. Size is more about muscle stimulation and calories consumed, strength is about neurological and muscular efficiency.
    – Dark Hippo
    Commented May 27, 2017 at 11:52
  • Just personal experience: I've never built as much mass as when I was doing one set of one rep everyday (bulgarian - not including warm ups). And my strength improved drastically. So some people don't need volume really to get both. Try it and find out.
    – Idri K
    Commented Jul 7, 2017 at 1:29

3 Answers 3


Muscle size weakly correlates to muscle strength. See this study that compares size to strength in leg muscles and this study.

There is no perfect way to build size and strength at the same time, but it is certainly possible to do it efficiently.

Remember that heavy weights and sets with low repetitions(less than 5) build muscle strength. Sets with 8-12 repetitions maximize hypertrophy.

Two options come to mind:

  • Have days that focus on building strength, and separate days that focus on building size

  • Perform heavy, compound movements in the beginning of your workout, and lighter, accessory movements in the later part of your workout.

I prefer the former. In my experience, it is a great way to train for both size and strength.

Focusing on either strength or size, not both, will yield the most progress.

  • Why not both in one day?
    – user25647
    Commented Jun 8, 2017 at 5:59
  • In the second bullet I incorporate both in one workout. If you're doing both in one day, whether in the same workout or separate, lift for strength(heavy) before size(moderate-light) so you save your CNS for maximizing weight lifted in strength workout. Commented Jun 8, 2017 at 11:18
  • You mean don't do too many moderate sets/dropsets and then move up to very heavy weight for strength after that? Does the order really matter if you can still pull through it? Or why not change between one 8-14 set and then do a 3-6 on the next go? I really don't count sets much, but I should.
    – user25647
    Commented Jun 8, 2017 at 18:44
  • I vouche for this, specifically the second bullet point. I myself do this, go heavy 5x5 on compound movements, and higher reps (8-12) on isolation movements. This will give you best of both worlds.
    – MJB
    Commented Jul 7, 2017 at 6:13

Size comes with having strength in the hypertrophy rep range. Focus on building strength using very heavy weight compound lifts with 10 sets of 2-4 reps, and sometimes singles to get maximum strength, so that when you workout for size, you will be able to lift much heavier weight, in the 6-10 rep range. Anyone that can squat over 320lbs for ten reps, or bench 275 for 10 reps, will more than likely be pretty darn big. So you need strength workouts, and size workouts, just split them up, but never together in the same workout. If anything go two weeks for strength, then one using a little lighter weight, but not to light. If your going for 8 reps, make that last rep very hard to get. This is how I gained size naturally over the past 30+ years, and still going strong.


Muscle mass corresponds to muscle strength. This is they way it is and has always been. Now, are they are equivalent? No. You want to hit the sweet spot, between muscle strength and hypertrophy? Conventional wisdom tells us, it is doing 3/4 sets of 5-8 repetitions, to failure. Have you reached 7-8 repetitions in an exercise? Then increase the load! Eat plenty of good carbs and protein, and the muscle will both get stronger AND bigger. Many of the gym goers seem to forget the whole mantra behind weight lifting: It's progressive overload. Don't let yourself plateau. Just don't, push it! Every week should be a rep or two more, or a 5% increase in the weight you are lifting!

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.