Hey!!! After my last topic I am seriously considered about starting pure strength training. I was wondering if I reach a high level of pure strength, let’s say one arm chinups, would I be able to train for mass on the biceps and lats afterwards??? And if yes, how??? Also, a bit of the topic, does pure strength training build strong tendons and joints???
Hello again, Antonio, great questions. Yes, you can build strength without mass, then mass later. You would do this by primarily focusing on low rep strength exercises that are relevant to your long term goals. Once you are comfortable with the difficulty of exercises you are doing, start building reps. The key is programming, so all you would have to do is build up to doing one arm pull ups, then start adding reps. Once you are doing them in the 6-12 rep range you will effectively be using it as a mass building exercise, assuming you recover properly of course with adequate food and sleep. The only problem with this approach is that it will take most people years to get that good at one arm pull ups…but it could be any exercise, it’s a lot easier to do with muscle ups (although personally I am trying to do that with one arm pull ups as my main pulling exercise).
And yes this will definitely build strong joints and tendons.
So, (let’s say) I could reach the level of doing one arm pullups at the rep range described above. If I was able to do 2 sets of 12 reps, what should I do, keep doing the same reps or increase something (because I don’t think keeping the same reps increases muscle, maybe I’m wrong…)???
Well firstly with one arm pull ups it’s generally recommended to alternate arms every rep, because of how incredibly taxing they are. This will lower the risk for injury or strain. But the main point you are missing is that by the time you could do 12 in one set you will likely have put on a good amount of mass on your back and arms no matter how you program your training. There will be a long time for you to train between when you can do 6 per arm and when you can do 12 per arm, and that is the time when you should structure your programming for using the one arm pull up for mass gain. Also it’s typically ideal to do 3-5 sets.
Also you should know that Jasper Benincasa, one of the best people at pull ups ever, topped out at about 19 or 20 per arm (without alternating), and I think the current Guinness world record is somewhere around 15 reps on the same arm in one minute, plus it wasn’t a single set the guy was allowed to drop off the bar. My point is 12 reps of one arm pull up is world class, so you’re not likely to get there anytime soon.
But if somehow one arm pull ups are getting too easy, you can do a few things to make them harder. Go super slow. Hold a weight in your other hand. The most practical skill to progress to would be the iron cross, if you have access to gymnastic rings. So even though the one arm pull up is the gold standard for elite bodyweight pulling strength, there are things that are even harder…but if you get to a point where you’re doing 12 per arm (24 alternating), simply maintaining that level would be insanely awesome. Honestly though, you should train other skills as well that parallel the OAC, especially if you intend to get to that level. Train high level hand balancing skills and bridging. Good goals would be freestanding handstand push up and stand to stand bridge.
Well I am not considered just about the one arm chinup, let’s say pistol squat (much easier). Reaching 12 reps on that one shouldn’t be thaaat hard. What do you do if you pass the 12 reps??? I just want to understand if muscle growth will continue to exist…
In a general sense you will have to simply move on to a harder variation or make the variation you’re doing more difficult in some way (add weight, go really slow, go really fast, etc). First and foremost make sure that your form is excellent on every rep. For pistols in particular I would prefer to add weight.
Understood. One last question, in the long run, the one who started training for muscle gains from earlier steps will end up with more muscle than the one who reached a “master step” by pure strength training and started muscle building afterwards??? Or will they have the same gains???
Well ultimately once you reach a certain size you will start to see diminishing returns. So I think in the end you would end up about the same. Although there’s a chance you’ll be stronger if you train for strength first, because it’s easier to achieve a level of relative strength and then maintain that level as you put on weight than it is to put on weight and then work on relative strength. That’s why you don’t see too many big guys doing one arm pull ups and such.
Plus, I can’t particularly justify it, but I feel like if you focus purely on strength without putting on much size for a couple of years and then use high level strength moves to build size that the resulting muscle mass that you do build will be more efficient than building muscle and then working on the strength moves. At the very least, if you get high relative strength and then get big, during the time you have that mass you will always be ridiculously strong; much stronger than you look, even though you will look strong. But if you use low level moves to build mass, you won’t be nearly as strong at that same size. But learning one arm pull ups is way easier when you weigh 30 pounds less.
Well, it seems to me like starting with mastering a basic hard move and using for mass afterwards is king. A perfect callisthenics fitness goal…!!!
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