Differences between weight and strength training

In this article we tried to collect information that characterizes the main tactical and strategic differences in training on gaining muscle mass and strength training. It should be noted that there are various types of muscle hypertrophy: sarcoplasmic hypertrophy and myofibrillar hypertrophy.

Sarcoplasmic hypertrophy is the growth of muscle cells due to a predominant increase in the volume of sarcoplasm, i.e., the non-contractile part of the fibers. Hypertrophy of this type occurs due to an increase in the content of non-contractile (in particular, mitochondrial) proteins and metabolic reserves of muscle cells: glycogen, creatine-phosphate, myoglobin, etc. The thickening of the capillary network as a result of training can also cause a slight increase in muscle volume.

Myofibrillar hypertrophy is associated with an increase in the number and volume of myofibrils, i.e., the self-contractile apparatus of muscle cells. At the same time, the density of myofibrils in muscle fiber increases. This type of muscle fiber hypertrophy leads to a significant increase in muscle strength indicators. The absolute strength of the muscle also increases significantly. When working on hypertrophy of the first type, the strength also increases, but much more slowly. Apparently, fast muscle fibers are most prone to myofibrillar hypertrophy.

It is not difficult to guess that bodybuilders are striving for the first form, and powerlifters are for the second form.

Many authors justifiably believe that differences in training do not play a special role, since muscle strength is directly proportional to its cross-sectional area and any power load, regardless of the variation parameters, leads to hypertrophy of muscles of both types equally.

The table below is based on data from Paul Roger’s scientific articles “General Principles of Muscle Building – What the Science Says About Muscle Building Practices” and “General Principles of Strength Training”. These articles include the most up-to-date, scientifically-validated collective information on approaches to strength training.

Parameter Bulking training Strength training
Diet Diet for muscle gain. A standard diet for gaining muscle mass may not be suitable if you need to stay in the same weight category.
Sports Nutrition (by importance) Protein, BCAA, gainer, creatine, pre-workout complex, testosterone boosters. Creatine, pre-workout complex, protein, gainer, BCAAs, stimulants.
Exercises Basic and isolating exercises (training program). The program mainly includes basic exercises.
Rest between sets 1-3 minutes (not long, to maintain a high level of intensity). 3-5 minutes (necessary for the full recovery of the creatine phosphate depot).
Muscle contraction rate during exercise Slow and medium (need to change). Medium and high (you need to change the speed from one training to another to prevent the development of adaptation).
The number of repetitions in the set 6-12 (to be specified depending on the prevailing type of muscle fibers – test for determination) the frequency can and should change from one training to another in order to prevent the development of muscle adaptation. 1-6 – the frequency changes, as well as in mass training.
Optimal training frequency 1-5 per week depending on the program. 3-5 per week depending on the program.
Training duration Most often, it is not recommended to train for longer than 1 hour. Up to 2 hours. The training is longer due to longer rest periods between sets.
Aerobic loads Often included in the program. Rarely used.

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