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  • 🗞 Are Muscle size and Strength correlated? 💪 PLUS our first Athlete Interview! 🏋️

🗞 Are Muscle size and Strength correlated? 💪 PLUS our first Athlete Interview! 🏋️


Muscle size and Strength? Does one influence the other? If someone is bigger than you, would you assume they were stronger? We will discuss all of this in this weeks Newsletter!

However first! We finished our Athlete Interview last week which is live on the website with Gerard Abeussa, the current Cameroon 73kg Olympic Weightlifting national champion. We spoke about his training and the hardships he has faced with his living situation and trying to make it. You should read it, it’s quite inspiring.

📢 Our next Athlete Interview is already in the works, this time it’s someone who holds a Guinness world record lifting some famous stones in Scotland. Not only that, he has broken over 100 World Records!! Guess Who?? 🔥

Size vs Strength 💪

Muscles produce the contractile force to lift a weight, therefore the person with more muscle should be able to lift more weight? However we have all seen someone a lot smaller outlift someone a lot bigger, so what is the relationship between the two?

Strength is a skill, Neuromuscular Adaptations play a huge role in someone’s strength, this can include:

  • Muscle Activation - The ability to recruit more muscle fibres, more actively recruited muscle fibres means more force.

  • Rate Coding - How quickly your Motor Neurons can fire (Vila-Chã et al., 2010)

  • Inter and Intramuscular Coordination - The Ability to efficiently recruit multiple muscle groups to produce force at the same time.

All of the above adaptations will be acquired through practice and time under the bar with heavier loads.

On top of this, strength and force production can be influenced by Psychological Factors, Technique, Stretch Shortening Cycle and Muscle Moment Arms. (A deep dive on everything would be too much detail for this short informative email).

This will develop none of the above adaptations other than false confidence and growing your ego ⬇️🤓

Workout Crossfit GIF by cho986

Gif by chocollatagourmet on Giphy

So where does Hypertrophy and Muscle Size fit in?

A positive relationship exists between the two however they can be disassociated. You can have an increase in strength gains with little to no measurable muscle size increase with the above factors ⬆️ and vise versa (Loenneke et al., 2019).

There is a reason there are weight classes in strength sports. Competing at that level, every lifter will have already close to mastered the above neural adaptations.

An increase in muscle size may not guarantee strength gains, but it does increase potential strength gains! You can build muscle size but without the neural adaptations to recruit those muscle fibers and practiced technique, it won’t translate to a strength increase. Neural adaptations and technique improvements will play progressively smaller roles in strength gains, the more experienced a lifter is- the more they are well experienced with these.

A study published by the Journal of Strength and Conditioning (Appleby et al., 2012) found muscle size increase to benefit strength increase in professional rugby players over a 2 year period.

Conclusions can be drawn that muscle size increases can benefit strength gains as shown by this review article ➡️ (Taber et al., 2019).

Take Away? 🤓

Although increases in strength and muscle size can be independent from one another, muscle size can benefit the potential for greater strength provided good or improving neural adaptations and technique.

If your an experienced lifter and you have good motor unit skills, adding more muscle mass will allow you to have more muscle fibres to recruit to produce more force.

If your a novice or intermediate and your goal is to maximise your strength over the long term, improving your neuromuscular adaptations and muscle size would be a good route to take.

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Until next week, Happy Lifting!