What is the key to getting stronger without getting bigger?

I figured this is the best place to ask because as I understand it power to weight ratio is a very important factor in sprinting. Your thoughts and experiences on this would be much appreciated.

Restricting repetition range. If you train for neural adaptation (low number of repetitions), it is more likely that you will not see any significant size changes. Of course you can be big and powerful, you just have to understand individual limitations.

P.S. I love that show Ultimate Figher. Diego beat that dudes a$$ in the last show.

That was the one that I missed! Speedkills is right about the Rep range between 1-5. Although Hypertrophy is leads to strength as well, don’t worry about hypertrophy so much just don’t do 8-15 reps in your exercise sets! Hypertrophy does come into play at the beginning of the season in the GPP phase! I’ll put it to you this way, throughout most of the year you are working in the 1-6 rep range and this will lead to strength without hypertrophy for the most part, expecially if your a beginner!

In addition to what has been said…
Put a better more powerful engine with more efficent wiring into the smallest vehicle possible.

Thanks for the replies.

Do you find it’s harder to work through stagnation points when training for max strength rather than hypertrophy? By this I mean when you are training for hypertophy you can just keep eating and eating to aid your gains. It becomes more tricky when you are trying to minimise weight gain because you can’t just gorge on food. Do you think shooting for single rep maxes week in week out could be fatiguing my CNS?

ps yeah I download the episodes as I’m from the UK. The other guy shouldn’t have been in the ring with Diego. Felt bad for him

I trained Ju-Jitsu with one of the dudes on the ultimate fighter. Josh Koschek, because he was a assistant wrestling coach at my school. His ju-jitsu wasn’t that good(mabye it got better) but he had amazing stamina. The cool thing was that there was this guy who was 20 pounds lighter then Koschek who could routinely take him down and Koschek was an all-american wrestler.

Varying reps, sets, and intensities. You should include a westside type explosive day but make it similiar to your sport. You would have to extend it longer than the powerlifting model. Martin Rooney’s MMA book may be of help. The MMA guys are so amazing in the stamina area. Just brutally tough.

is the CNS responsible for any hypertrophy, or is that the role of soley the PNS? at what point do low reps become big mass gainers? 10-3 with 60sec rests between sets?–this is low reps, yet rather efficient for hypertrophy.

what role does nutrition play in hypertrophy–if high reps are responsible for hypertrophy could i eat 1000cals below maintenance and still grow? could i eat 1000cals above maintenance while on a high intensity/low volume workout and still grow?

as far as my noob mind has learned, power-esqe (weightlifters, powerlifters, sprinters) athletes that must remain a certain weight do so by restricting calories, restricting total TUT, keeping rest periods long, and generally just keeping from a pump.

i have concerns with the idea that low reps equals less hypertrophy because low rep schemes can be manipulated enough to make someone grow more than any high rep shemes can.

kudos waterbury

Well mma guys who have great stamina alot of times do becuase they relax more and use more technique. People who are new to grappling just try and use brute strength and are very tense so they waste alot of energy. Koschek has great conditioning because of his wrestling backround and the way he trains. There are alot of mma guys who arn’t in great shape but win fights because they are skilled.

As a sprinter I only do hypertrophy training in the GPP phases! I don’t do them at any other point of the year! The fact of the matter is, that higher reps & lower weight is better at the beginning of an annual periodized plan! The reason for this is that muscles adapt faster to more “weight” in a given exercise, tendons on the other hands take weeks and even months to adapt if you are at the beginner level; furthermore, if your not at the beginner level you should still do 7-8 weeks of hypertrophy training in order not only to maximize muscle gains but to maximize them when you can maximize the gains in tendon strength (without tearing a tendon/ligament).

Istavon Javorek’s conditioning book is highly recommended for MMA and especially for sprinters. I prefer this approach rather than CF’s. I would still incoporate all of GPP work CF recommends but not when it comes to the lifting of weights in the GPP phase. This way your tendons/ligaments grow at the same rate as your muscles do. Then you don’t have to worry about getting injured later on in the year! An added bonus to this conditioning is that in leads to capallerization of the muscles. Along with CF’s tempo work and hill work in the GPP phase, you end up with an unbeatable system!

P.S. I have personally done Javorek’s programs and they are the hardest for this sprinter/powerlifter/olympic lifter! The develop muscle endurance and when your done the program it allows you to recover faster during subsequent strength training mesocycles! A 3 min rest break seems to take forever after you do Javorek’s program!

If you go for a 1RM in the same lift week in week out, your CNS will be not just merely fried, but really most sincerely fried. :eek:

Not necessarily, beginners can still make huge gains, although from personal experience I would not recommend it for a long period of time. This could also fit under the heading of a shock mesocycle!

This is so true. Koscheck may be in great condition but he looked very winded after 10 minutes with Leben. Probably because of the nervous energy expended knowing the importance of the fight and the personal battle between the two.

This is what my strength sessions look like at the moment:


Bench/Close Grip Bench: warm up to a 1 rep max
Flat Dumbell Press/Incline: 3x5reps
Tricep Extension: 3x6reps


Weighted Chin Ups: 5x5
BB Rows: 3x5
Shrug Variation: 4x6
Hammer Curls/Curl variation: 3x8


Squat/Deadlift: warm up to 1 rep max
SLDL: 3x5
Lunge variation: 3x5

I rotate my max effort lifts every 2-3 weeks. I am quite influenced by westside as I followed Joe Defranco’s modified westside program and enjoyed it. I felt I wanted less volume in order to minimise mass gains. The main resaon being I just don’t have the money or desire to eat big/get big, therefore I felt my recovery was suffering. Everything is to be going up steadily but my bench has plateued for about 3/4 months. It’s been bugging me but I don’t want to sacrifice any gains on my lower body or pull days as I feel these are more important in MMA.

I don’t periodise as I am not competitive at the moment. I load for 6-8 weeks and then rest for 1-2 weeks.

My current 1RM @ 140lbs:

Bench: 180lbs
Squat: 308lbs
Deadlift: 286lbs

Do you follow this routine for about 6 weeks, rest for 2 weeks, then perform the same routine?

As was suggested before, I would possibly alternate the max effort bench press with a dynamic effort bench press every other week. You will find that the dynamic effort will increase your power output and break that plateau. Also, factor in your rest and recovery methods. Diet will be of utmost importance in the way of not intaking too many calories, and ensuring adequate nutrient intake for optimal recovery.

And your not gonna see any gains until you do those same exercises twice a week! I.e. doing bench and squat once a week will get you nowhere! Just make sure there are 3 days between the same exercises,

i.e. Bench on Monday and then Thursday.

Now hang on there, super…

While his 1RM might not increase if he only does each exercise once a week, will he not still get the general strength maximum CNS stress that makes the organism stronger?

general strength maximum CNS stress… :confused:

Why do weight training at all if 1RM’s never increase? I agree with super…hit lower body and upper body twice maybe three times per week.

Interesting, thanks.

So for example:


Bench: Max effort
Assitance/supp exercises

Squat/Deadlift: Dynamic effort
Assitance supp exercises


Bench: Dynamic effort
Assitance/supp exercises


Squat/Deadlift: max effort
Assitance/supp exercises

Where would you suggest putting pulling movements like heavy barbell rows and chin ups? I’ve never heard of it, but what do you think of a dynamic effort for rows/chinups and the merits for a grappler?

Dynamic effort training for the biceps and entire posterior chain of the shoulders is crucial for grapplers. There are so many explosive pulling motions involved with wrestling that a feel a training regime that excludes these exercises is incomplete. This coupled with isometrics (to strengthen your holds/ submissions) should make up a big part of your weight training.