strength training confusion

Hey guys I'm new to weight training...I need help...I'm interested in STRENGTH TRAINING...but I don't understand the difference between this and putting on BULK! I would love to be able to do both but I would like to be as strong as possible! My upper body is as weak as can be...
Please provide me with a program...I have gotten advice to do a PYRAMID scheme...light then heavy till you max out! Is this good for STRENGTH???

before you try and workout you have to establish a base line of strength.i would suggest doing one or 2 body parts per day .start out doing 8-10 reps per set.keepp your sets to this workout for 2months or so.after you have built some strength and learned proper form you can move on to other programs.just to give you an idea,to gain size you have to work heavy and use low reps 2-4.pyrmiding is a good workout,but that is down the road for consisstant,be intense.i have dozens of workouts icould send you.let me know.good luck jim

gentle jim, why do you suggest doing this. First you say he has to establish a baseline of strength by doing 8-10 reps per set. Then you go on to explain that strength is gained primarily in rep ranges significantly lower than what you've espoused he ought to be doing. I think if a person wants strength they ought to train for it...from the first session. Now, I don't mean that I feel they ought to be using max poundages initially, but they don't need to be doing size gaining programs when that's not what they want.

HEMAN, in answer to your first question. Size is the addition of new tissue or adding more size to already existing tissue depending on which school of thought you subscribe to, but that's a whole debate in and of itself. But basically "bulk" means you make more muscle and have an accompanying increase in mass. Strength is taking already existing tissue and maximizing it's ability or potential to produce the most force possible in a given amount of time. Typically this works by training the nerves that innervate the muscle fibers to fire more at one time so you have recruited the optimal amount of fibers at one time. This ability is somewhat genetic, but is also highly trainable. Typically for "bulk" you want to stimulate various energy systems and disrupt the maximal amount of tissue so that it recovers by becoming bigger. This is typically done by doing an amount of work that causes the muscle to fail at between 30 seconds and three minutes. For pure strength you train not for tissue disruption, but for maximal neural recruitment. This is accomplished by doing high load explosive movements that last less that 30 seconds. Notice I said explosive movements, not fast ones. Watch a powerlifter, even though the weight may be moving fairly slowly the lifter is "exploding" with all of the power he is able to generate.

I hope others add to this post since it's the crux of what this forum is about.

Best in Health and Training, J. R.

Heman, do reps under 5 for max strength. Rest 3 minutes plus between sets and get plenty of rest. Don't make it too complicated, it isn't brain surgery.

i believe that heman is fairly new to the iron game.i have seen countless people who jump into stength training to hard and to fast.many of these folks became discourged or hurt and quit training.i think it very important for beginners to train for a couple of months doing basic lifts to gain some strength,to work on proper form and to gain tendon and ligament stability..after this is done then the person can persue the program that he wants.i may have confused heman on my writing.i was just answering part of his question about strength with the low rep heavy weight line.i am new at the writing venture.i find the people
on this forum excellent and diverse.thanks jr for asking me to answer.

My friend, you can and probably will receive much advise but everything you need to know is at Feel free to email me through the site. I'll respond to any questions you have.

Pelon, my friend. It doesn't bother me when someone advertises a sound product. However when I see something being constantly advertised that claims to be 'fact' or a superior product, but falls short of the claims upon closer examination, I get a little bit irked, especially when the advertising continues for extended periods of time. Granted, this isn't my forum, and I'm in a crabby mood.

I had a look at your site, and have a few questions that I'd be greatful for if you could answer and enlighten me.


"Using the close, reverse grip is the best and only version necessary of either chins or pull downs."

Why is it a 'fact' the close, reverse grip is 'best'? What is this statement based upon? Various grips emphasize differing recruitment patterns, again Im at a loss to see how a close supinated grip is 'best. '

The same sequence of paragraph later states "In other words, a full stretch can only be achieved when the hands are directly overhead and all those other hand placement variations do is rob you of the full benefit of this exercise." How is this so? What is this based off of besides speculation & opinion? (remember, you are claiming your product to present facts and nothing else)? There are even a handful of studies that indicate wider grips provide higher levels of recruitment in the 'lats'(steming from the altered angle of pull & mechanical advantage, Cornaccia & LaFromboise, 1998)

"Secondly, contrary to popular belief, the bicep muscle does not raise the lower arm. The purpose of the bicep is to suppinate the wrist, (turn your hand palm up.) The Brachialis muscle raises the lower arm. Only when the wrist is suppinated can the bicep help bring the hand to the shoulder. "

This statement here is self contradictory. Does the bicep flex the elbow or not? (the bicep performs 3 functions; supinates forearms, flexes elbow and moderately flexes the shoulder). The brachialis does flex the elbow, but the bicep does contribute to this function. The final sentence is correct.

"The weight should be lowered to touch your chest at the nipple line, not dropped and bounced. Remember the negative, lowering portion of the lift, is the most important part. "

You are advertising your product to an individual interested in strength training. From where does your statement that the eccentric phase of the lift is most important? (regarding strength training-remember, this is a strength & conditioning Q & A, NOT bodybuilding!).

The above paragraph is preceded by the statement of "no single exercise will build a world class chest and add to the overall thickness of the entire upper body better than bench. " -again, how is this a fact and not opinion? Give me a reference. Also, while the context of this specific article is aimed at chest/pectoral development, you advise one to lower the bar to the nipple level, even though there is a study to support lowering below the nipple will provide increased pectoral recruitment (Bürhle, 1985).

My regards friend!

I must agree with JRS. Any person interested in
spending what will be a large amount of time and energy
working with weights should research what they will be
doing! By achieving a BASIC understanding of the
principles of progressive resistance training, anyone
can then lay the foundation for reaching the specific
goals they have in mind. To train for sarcoplasmic
hypertrophy with higher rep schemes when strength is
the main goal is a waste of time and effort. However,
to enter a low rep, high weight routine without
understanding the form required by an exercise is a
mistake also. It does not take long to perform the
basic lifts with acceptable technique. It is that
point when the effort becomes near-maximal that the
neophyte trainee sacrifices form for a few more pounds
or a few more reps. A dose of discipline is necessary
to prevent injury and swallow one's pride by setting
down a weight that will cause injury. If you do not
get lured into this trap of pride, you may safely
progress in nearly any basic workout scheme.



thank you for everyone advice!!! I will try let you know of the results in a couple of months.

SCRAPPER: LOL! I wouldn't worry about that, unless you changed your format to you wearing a spandex leotard performing side leg raises, while lecturing about muscle toning exercises.

Heman posted that strength is his main concern, but that he wouldn't mind some bulk, too. Bodybuilding rep schemes will achieve this for a beginner. To be as strong as possible involves both recruiting the most efficiency/force out of what tissue/nerve you've already got, AND building as much lean tissue as possible. In this sense, 'getting strong' and 'strength training' are two different things.

Lazur1, thanks. I had actually misread what he said and thought he wanted ONLY strength and not size. Thanks for the clarification.

As I've seen written before:

" Don't you think that if you could do dips with 200
lbs., and pullups with 100 lbs., and squat twice your
weight, and bench 150% of your weight, that you would
be awful damn big?"

Sorta makes this whole argument/discussion moot, eh?

Let HEMAN get his feet wet with lifting and learn
proper form, then the variants in routines will be
ready for him to explore!



Hertswenip - great name by the way - it seems to me that this is the second time you blasted my site. Last time I answered your questions but never heard back from you.

Anyway, here goes.
Part 1:

The close, reverse grip is the best grip for working the lats because it is the only position for the hands that affords a full working range of motion for the lat muscle. Since the lat is tied direcly below the deltoids, along the traps and to the waist girdle, the function of the muscle is to pull your arms down and back. As you spread your arms and assume a wider grip, you shorten the range of motion for the muscle, rely more on your upper arm muscles to lift you, and compromise your shoulders to boot. Just because an exercise is harder to do with a different grip or hand placement does not make it more efficient at working the targeted muscle. There are more details in the book or you can also find a similar explanation in Mentzer's book Heavy Duty II.

Next, the bicep. To restate, only when the wrist is suppinated (as in the reverse grip) can the bicep be recruited to raise the lower arm. Therefore, if you perform chins with a normal grip, you cannot use the entire upper arm to help raise the body and will consequently fatigue the smaller brachialis muscles before you ever fully work the lats.

See Part 2 for the rest of your answer.

Part 2
Then, bench press. The answer to your questions about my statemet about the negative portion of the lift being the most beneficial is best answered through and understanding of how a muscle contract in the first place. (For those of you who had a hard time staying awake in school, you might want to scroll down to the "in other words" part.)
All skeletal muscles of the body are made up of numerous muscle fibers ranging bewteen 10 and 100 microns in diameter. In most muscles the fibers extend the entire length of the muscle and usually are each innervated by only one neuromuscular junction located almost exactly in the middle of the fiber.
Each muscle fiber contains several hundred to several thousand myofibrils. Each myofibril in turn has, lying side-by-side, about 2500 myosin and actin filaments, which are largely polymerized protein molecules that are responsible for muscle contraction. The myosin and actin filaments interdigitate creating alternating light and dark bands. Each band is called a sarcomere, the total length of which is usually slightly more than 2 microns. The actin filaments extend into the myosin band in an area called the "H" zone. The "Z" membrane passes through the middle of the actin band attaching the actin filaments to each other. This membrane also attaches the adjacent myosin fibrils to each other. Thus, the Z membrane extends all the way across the muscle fiber causing the respective sarcomeres of adjacent fibrils to lie side-by-side. This gives the fiber its "striated" appearance. The myofibrils are suspended in a matrix called the sarcoplam, which is composed of the usual intracellular fluid, containing large quantities of potassium, magnesium, phosphate, and enzymatic proteins. In the sarcoplasm are large numbers of mitochondria that lie mainly in close apposition to the actin filaments of the actin bands, suggesting that it is the actin filaments that utilize the major share of the ATP formed by the mitochondria.
Also in the sarcoplasm is an extensive endoplasmic reticulum called the sarcoplasmic reticulum, which has a special organization. Adjacent to each myofibril, where the actin and myosin filaments interdigitate with each other, a tubular portion of the reticulum called the triad spreads perpendicularly across the entire muscle fiber. There are two such triads for each sarcomere, because the myosin and actin filaments interdigitate at two points in the sarcomere. During the positive portion of the muscle contraction the actin filaments slide like pistons inward among the myosin filaments. This is manifested as the empirical "shortening" of the overall muscle. During muscle relaxation or the "negative" portion, the fibrils return to their original positions. This movement is dampened by the inter-fibril friction that occurs due to the dissimilar electric charge caused by the alternating release of calcium and magnesium ions. This friction, in turn, causes a fraying effect along the actin and myosin fibrils.

Here it is . . . IN OTHER WORDS. . . during the negative portion of the rep, friction within the muscle causes small tears along the muscle fibers. It is these tears which are healed to produce larger muscle fibers.

The answer for whether to lower to the nipple line or below lies in a basic understanding of body mechanics and centering the load on the targeted muscle. Lower than the nipple line will recruit the frontal deltoids to a larger extent.

Damn! Sure hope that answers your questions. Remember my friend, you can always find a study to support virtually any and all opinions and positions. The task is to separate the "speculation and opinion" from the biological fact. Good luck to anyone who managed to read this whole response.

Need help in terms of setting weight level! I'm of asian genetics...sooooooo I'm pretty small build...DAMNIT it was the RICE...anywayz...I weight 140lbs and at a height of 5ft 7inches...what should a fighting weight be at that type??? In regards to upperbody workout...I lifted yesterday...train to the same time not trying to kill myself...feel sore today...once again thanks for the advice!!!

Pelon and Herts,

I read Heavy Duty two days ago. The wording used by Pelon is EXACTLY the same as that used by Mentzer...Exactly. I guess if you agree with Mentzer's theories, you will agree with Pelon. However, there may be some copyright implications to stating the facts using the EXACT same wording that Mentzer uses and I do mean EXACT.

Marcus Carroll

actually, the copyright implications are next to nil. But this isn't the place for a legal explication of copyrights.

In any case, Mentzer's basic anatomical explanation of how a muscle works vs. studies done to actually show level of recruitment of muscle fibers... hmmmmm....

Not to mention the level of controversy about the "small tears" in the muscle theory.

We are all a product of what we've seen, heard, read, and experienced. I state the following on my website.

"We started talking to professional body builders, (off the record), and found out what they really do. We devoured every piece of sports medicine and scientific literature we could get our hands on, as well as ordering every workout plan and supplement from
Cybergenics to Creatine to Mentzer.

Over the past 10 years we systematically tried, studied, and challenged each one until we separated fact from opinion, and developed The Truth."

In "The Truth" I recommend Mentzer's book for his anatomical explanations. Having a background in biomedical engineering, physiology, biochemistry and electrical engineering I tend to be wordy and use too many technical terms. (Never would have guessed, huh?) So when I find a well written, plain-English, accurate description, I give credit and use it. I also tell you where Mentzer goes too far.

The response to hertzwenip above however, is my own. Now do you see why I generally try the plain-English approach first?

I urge all the readers to separate the egos and politics from the content. There are all kinds of silly and dangerous exercise theories with flawed studies behind them. Do your own research. Ask questions until it either makes sense or smells like what it is. Find what works for you. Good luck and see you in the gym or on the mat.

pelon, what protocol did you use for your studies? Also, who funded them and are the blind studies (at least the ones pertaining to supplements)? You state that you "developed the truth." Well, if you do what you stated you didn't actually "develop" anything. You just found out what works and wrote it down. How is this a development?