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The Role of Diet in Size and Strength

Posted Dec 09 2008 9:00pm

"Hi James,

"Hope all is well. I started reading the Volume 2 book, and I'm learning a lot of important aspects on how to come up with the ultimate bodybuilding program. The book is great!

"Recently, I've been eating a little less than normal given that I was gaining too much body fat. I have an ectomorph body type, and I've been losing the weight like crazy. My arm size decreased by ¼ of an inch in about a week. The funny thing is, is that I'm constantly lifting more weight every workout (I keep track of how many sets and reps I do for each workout). I workout 4 times a week: Sun, Mon, Wed and Friday. I did what you suggested your readers to do in Vol. 1. I chose 3 different exercises for a muscle group and spread the exercises throughout the whole week. So, every workout, I attack the muscle using a given exercise I chose from the 3 I picked for my program. The reps and sets for each exercises change every workout to recruit different muscle fibres. This works fantastically!

"Seeing that I'm getting stronger from workout to workout, shouldn't my body be getting bigger instead of smaller? Eating a surplus of the right calories is key to getting big, I know. But doesn't getting stronger correlate with getting bigger?

"Your help is much appreciated."

Take care,

My Answer: Hey Jason, great to hear you're making excellent progress. To answer your question, does increased strength directly equate to increased size? No, not necessarily. You can be stronger and not gain size at all. This is why there are weight classes in powerlifting and Olympic weightlifting.

Gaining muscle is contigent upon 2 things: the right stimulus (weight training) and the right building blocks (diet). The Strength and Physique programs are increasing your strength, but without the extra calories and extra protein, you will not get bigger. You'll certainly get more toned and lean, so your physique will still be impressive.

But if you want to have impressive muscular size, then you'll need to up the calories and protein. I understand that you want to avoid getting too fat, but you'll need to focus on one goal at a time. What I suggest is to follow the ZigZag Zone diet mentioned in SPV2: Neo-Classical Bodybuilding for 2 weeks, then follow a lower calorie diet for 2 weeks. Alternating in this way will help you focus on one dietary goal at a time and will help you make better gains in the long run.
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