I heard two very interesting pieces of advice in the gym today. Two different groups of people, not less than 15 minutes apart.
The first one was:
"You need to get strong to get big"
The second was:
"You need to get big to get strong"
Such is the way with weight room advice.
So what DO we know about muscle size and strength?
We know that your strength is largely determined by the size of your muscles.
And we know that if you want to improve the size of your muscles (or your muscle strength) you must stress them with ever increasing amounts of "work".
These increases in work can be accomplished by using more weight, or lifting the same weight more often (workout volume), or lifting the same weight more frequently (workout frequency).
But the common principle is 'more'
'more' will make your muscles bigger and 'more' will make your muscles stronger.
So the arguement of strength versus size is something of a chicken and the egg sort of paradox.
Does one cause the other? We could argue about this forever.
However we know for sure that they are connected.
So do you need to get big to get strong, or do you need to get strong in order to get big? The answer is, you can't disconnect the two.
And before we start arguing about Olympic lifters and power lifters who are really strong for their size...remember there is a big difference between BEING BIG and having LARGE MUSCLES.
I know a number of powerlifters, all of which have very impressive lifts. And the muscles that they use (ticeps, legs, upperback) are all very developed - Even the guys who lift in the lower weight classes.
The same goes for olympic lifters, the muscle that drive the lifts they excel at are all very well developed.
As a general rule of thumb, whether you want to get bigger muscles or you want to get stronger -
Train hard and train often.