1. Focusing on heavy lifting without pushing to failure, will help you gain strength without getting bigger in the long run.
2. Focusing on Sarcoplasmic Hypertrophy helps build muscle, but it will also increase the size of the muscle without making it that much stronger (you dont want this).
3. Rusty Moore, who specializes in helping people get stronger without getting bigger, recommends a two-day split. That means alternating between Upper and Lower Body workouts.
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Best Exercises To Gain Strength
Reps, Sets, Rest & Load Percentages For Strength Gain
Once an athlete’s masters his/her form in all of the above, then we can start playing with variations. The chart below will explain the repetitions range you should be aiming for depending on what your goal is.
Even more detailed guidelines as per The Kinesiology of Exercise by Michael Yessis:
1-4 reps per set @ 2-4RM increase pure strength but do not increase muscle mass
4-9 reps per set @ 5-9RM increase strength together with muscle mass
10-15 reps per set increase muscular strength, muscular endurance and muscle mass
16-30 reps per set increase muscular endurance with little to no increase in muscle mass
31-50 reps per set or circuit increase muscular endurance with no effect on muscle mass
50-100 reps per set or circuit increase muscular endurance, cardio-respiratory endurance, and there will be a possible loss of muscle mass (or fat) but absolutely no increase in strength
For Best Training Results Consistency Is Key
With all the guidelines above, just remember to stick to the numbers and be consistent with your training. Be honest with yourself. If poor technique or mobility hinders you from lifting heavier, don’t add more weight to the bar. Work on technique and mobility, as this may be problem. Changes will occur, as long as you are smart and consistent about your training.
Also remember that it is possible to get stronger without getting bigger, you just have to pick the best kind of training to reach your desired goal.