Few things are more impressive than watching a dude load up five or six or more plates on each side of a squat bar and taking it deep to the bucket before driving it back up with authority—for eight reps. And to make matters worse, when you glance over, you notice legs the size of tree trunks. Likely, your first thought is: “What is he taking?” It should be: “What is he doing in his training that I’m not?”
Strength is the true first test of man’s will to overcome. It’s the genesis of lifting and fitness, and dates back a few thousand years, when it was a tremendous asset for survival. Fast-forward to the late 1800s and early 1900s, and feats of strength were the main attraction at any venue. Today, strength testing is still being performed, but has taken a backseat to size-building and shaping the perfect physique. But ask anyone who’s anyone in the sport of bodybuilding, and they’ll tell you they began by lifting heavy, and that before they even considered trying to build their massive physiques, they were in the gym working to build strength.
While volume reigns as the best way to build size, there’s no better way to lay down dense muscle fiber and build a rock-solid base than to train strength. And whether you’re a novice or a longtime veteran of the bodybuilding game, a solid strength cycle is a must every few months, if not even more often. It’s not a stretch to see the reasoning behind a good strength program: Lift more weight and increase your strength, and you inevitably hit more reps at the weight you did before, as it becomes lighter.
This example should serve well to illustrate. Seventy percent of 100 is 70. Seventy percent of 150 is 105. While pursuing biceps bliss, would you rather be curling 70 or 105 pounds for your reps? Furthermore, if you’ve increased your max, the weight you used to do will feel much lighter. At your former load, you’ll be able to bang out plenty of reps—just like the big benchers who take 225 pounds for a 40–50 rep ride. While physiology will define it, math will prove it. It’s simple. Don’t be afraid. Don’t avoid it. Embrace it and watch your lifts increase and your size beneft as an aftereffect.
I don’t need to explain this scientifcally, since the proof is definitely in the pudding—but I will anyway. Why? Because we need to define some rules as to what strength really is. More importantly, we need to prevent guys from doing 1/8 (or 1/4) reps, and throwing things around, making an ass out of themselves in the gym and occupying space needed by people who really want to see results. I’m tired of watching guys waste time loading up machines to do less than even a partial rep. They make a spectacle of the loading, disappoint on the lift, take 10 minutes between sets, then don’t put their s—t away. Another reason why science is necessary is for those who forgot their legs existed. Let this serve as a reminder not only that friends don’t let friends skip leg day, but also that strength training, by definition, will force other muscles to fire and get big. Take a look at the abs of heavy squatters and deadlifters—trust me, no need for situps when you lift big.