I believe I have a bizarre but unique question.

I would like to know if its possible to increase muscle mass without increasing (Or while minimizing) muscle size increase (Maybe by increasing muscle density if possible). The reason I ask is I would like to reach a much heavier weight but without bulking up (As much as physically possible).

If this is possible, can strength gain be maximized as well (As in can strength be increased without increasing muscle size.) I've read multiple times that this is usually done through low rep high weight exercises.

Note: I am not talking about losing fat while gaining muscle to keep the same weight. Nor am I talking about increasing strength while maintaining the same weight.

Instead I am talking about increasing your weight with minimum bulking (Ideally while also increasing strength).

Finally can this be done using body weight? (At least in the beginning)

Thank you

  • It's a bit confusing what you've written (perhaps try to rewrite some parts), but It's not an unusual question. I'd say once a month someone here asks how to avoid getting bigger muscles. However, could you perhaps try to state why? What is your goal, what exactly do you want to avoid? Many people starting out are afraid that they look like Phil Heath after a month in the gym. The truth is that you are lucky if you look muscular after 6 months or even a year of training unless you are really, really thin. Don't worry, without juice, your muscles won't grow a lot
    – Raditz_35
    Commented Dec 30, 2018 at 10:08
  • @Raditz_35, Well I would like to reach a higher weight class without becoming muscle bound in combat sports. I'm not a pro or an amateur or anything, but Its quite important to me to increase my weight. I'm not sure what parts to modify in question. I could give you more information if you need it.
    – userRanGuy
    Commented Jan 2, 2019 at 18:37
  • I would like to gain a lot of weight that is why I'm worried if its possible or not. I've recently lost a lot of weight (not fat weight) because I'm eating much less for reasons not really in my control but I am trying to change that.
    – userRanGuy
    Commented Jan 2, 2019 at 18:43
  • The idea that you will become "muscle bound" if you gain any size is ridiculous. You're not going to lose speed, mobility, or any other desirable characteristic by gaining muscle. I suggest you stop worrying about it. Commented Aug 30, 2019 at 4:09

1 Answer 1


Generally speaking, powerlifting type exercises will build denser muscles with less hypertrophy. You’ll still build muscle, but denser muscle. Sometimes it helps to look at extreme examples:

Compare an Olympic powerlifter who clean and jerks a few hundred pounds to Arnold Schwarzenegger. Muscle size is not equal to muscle strength. Train for strength - not size.

  • "Olympic powerlifter"? Sadly, that day will probably never come :/ ... You're mixing up olympic weightlifting and powerlifting, which are entirely different disciplines. I assume in the context of this question you meant weightlifting? Commented Aug 29, 2019 at 18:44
  • Although I can totally understand confusing them, the namegiving of that kind of sports was more than suboptimal. Weightlifting actually builds power, Powerlifting actually builds strength, Strongman builds... dunno, permanent injuries? Commented Aug 29, 2019 at 18:48
  • 3
    Frank, please take a few moments to provide us sources, such as the Journal of Strength and Conditioning, to support your opinions. Webpages, blogs, youtubes, gurus, instagram and such do not qualify. I believe the point of this page is to elevate the discussion beyond the assertions and opinions that proliferate on the internet.
    – Chris
    Commented Aug 29, 2019 at 23:09
  • Arnold Schwarzenegger could bench press 500 pounds, which was world class for a raw lift. Bodybuilders do not lack strength. The notion that strength and size are developed independently is mostly nonsense. Commented Aug 30, 2019 at 4:08
  • @Chris, do you however agree that powerlifting type muscle will create denser muscles?
    – userRanGuy
    Commented Oct 3, 2019 at 21:51

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