Want to Get Stronger Without Getting Bigger or More Muscular?

Want to Get Stronger Without Getting Bigger or More Muscular?

I’ll bet that when you think of people who are really strong, you think of Arnold Schwarzenegger or some weightlifter, or heck, probably me (and if you don’t think about me, you can lie to me and tell me you do. It’s good for my ego)! But chances are you don’t want to gain slabs of muscle or lift 402 pounds, like someone you know. Chances are you just want to get stronger to help you with your everyday activities or just to look good in a swimsuit.

How do you do that?

Simple. Use the same exercises you would do anyway, but raise the weight and drop the repetitions. So for instance, if you usually squat for 3 sets of 10 repetitions, raise the weight and do 2-4 sets of 3-5 repetitions.

But wait. Won’t the heavier weight make you bulk up? Not to worry. Yes, you’re using a heavier weight, but you’re also using much lower repetitions, so the chances of you bulking up are negligible. See, when you’re doing more than 6 repetitions, you’re training your muscular system. When you’re doing less than 6 repetitions, you’re primarily working your nervous system. So do you know how some people don’t look very impressive, yet they are much stronger than they look? This is because of a very efficient nervous system. And you can make yours more efficient as well by doing what I told you earlier: decrease the repetitions and increase the weight.

So do you need extra calories to get stronger without getting bigger? That depends what you’re comparing yourself to. It certainly does require more calories than being a couch potato, but it doesn’t require anywhere near as many calories as exercise that has more sets and repetitions, because you’re not causing as much “damage” to your muscles as traditional bodybuilding-style training.

Although research on nutrition for this type of exercise is scarce, we can theorize that certain nutrients should be emphasized for someone performing this kind of training:

  • Magnesium glycinate. This form of magnesium speeds up recovery of the nervous system.
  • Zinc. Much of the nervous system is zinc-dependent, and during times of high stress on the nervous system, you would think it would require more of this nutrient.
  • Choline. This is a B vitamin that is responsible for the fatty coating around your spinal cord (where your nervous system resides). I would think that having more of this nutrient (which is found in eggs) would help with the creation of new neural pathways, because the more you practice a particular skill, the stronger a particular pathway becomes (kind of like walking on a fresh layer of snow. The more people walk on it, the more clear the path becomes).
  • Vitamin S. That stands for “steroids.” Just kidding. Ha!

Short Summary

  • You can get stronger and more toned without getting bigger or more muscular. Decrease the number of repetitions to less than 6 and increase the weight.
  • Training for strength without size requires a lot fewer calories than to deliberately grow muscle size

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