Maybe you know someone like my friend Mark. He’s the strongest person I know and in the gym. Mark can easily clean and press 110 kg. Mark’s not a big muscular guy in fact if you didn’t see him with that loaded barbell above his head, you’d never believe he could do it. Mark is an excellent example of dense muscle versus big muscle. How muscular strength is not dependent on muscle size. Mark is compact and strong primarily because his muscles are dense. They contain more muscle fibers than the bodybuilder next to him in the gym whose muscles are larger but less dense.
The physiological difference is best demonstrated by two very different types of weight lifters you might run across in the gym, bodybuilders and power lifters. Both groups train hard both use pretty much the same equipment but, both have very different training goals and objectives the power litter trained strictly for strength while the bodybuilder trains for size. Let’s take a closer look at each group.
With few exceptions, power lifters are not as big or muscular as bodybuilders. They train for strength and always strive to lift more. This strength training develops stronger dense muscles that allow them to bench press squat and dead lift. More weight than bodybuilder’s dream of lifting power lifters train and compete using low reps and explosive power which cause myofibrillar hypertrophy or enlargement of the muscle fiber. As the muscle gains more myofibrils it becomes denser which results in a greater ability to exert muscle strength.
Bodybuilders on the other hand train with lighter weights at higher reps, usually with a smooth even cadence. They train for volume and the pump which results in Sacro plasmatic hypertrophy an increase in the volume of the muscle cell fluid sarcoplasm bodybuilders train to increase the volume of Sacro plasm which causes the size of the muscle to increase while the density of the muscle fibers decrease and there is a minimal increase in muscular strength.
Which body type do you prefer lean, mean and wiry? With dense strong muscles concentrate on fewer sets with heavy weights and by doing less than 5 reps per set or maybe you prefer bigger and more muscular for the sake of appearance. You’ll gain more muscle size but you don’t get as strong by doing lighter sets of eight to twelve reps or more regardless of your body type or preference. Remember the stronger does not necessarily mean bigger and bigger does not necessarily equal stronger train hard you.