“I’m Getting Stronger But Not Bigger!” (Strength Gains Without Mass)


Hey guys, Sean Nalewanyj here of SeanNal.com
and BodyTransformationTruth.com and today I want to answer a very common question that
people ask me all the time which is why am I getting stronger but not bigger. Yes, it’s
perfectly possible for you to make noteworthy gains in strength without any real size gains
to go along with it. See, in simple terms, your body can basically produce strength gains
in two primary ways. The first is through muscular hypertrophy, or growth and this refers
to an actual increase in the cross-sectional area of the muscle itself. And if you’re
trying to pack on muscle size, this is obviously the type of gain that you’re after. And
the second is through neural adaptations. And in this case, your body is basically becoming
more efficient at recruiting motor units and making use of the muscle mass that you already
have. If you’ve been gaining strength without the size to go along with it then this is
the primary adaptation that you’ve been experiencing. While it’s possible that this
is happening as a result of an improperly structured workout plan, it’s not very likely
that this is the case. If you’re already in the gym and you’re making consistent strength
gains over time then you’d have to be making some pretty basic fundamental errors in your
training structure in order for your workout plan to be the root of the problem. So here
are a few possible, but unlikely scenarios. Number 1, you’re mostly performing sets
of 3 reps or less. This would primarily result in gains in strength and power rather than
actual hypertrophy. Secondly, you’re performing sets primarily of, in excess of 12 reps. And
this is going to primarily result in increases in endurance again rather than hypertrophy.
Another possibility, you’re only performing a couple sets per muscle group per workout.
This is going to prevent you from creating enough metabolic fatigue in the muscle in
order to produce significant size gains. Another possibility, you’re training each muscle
group less than once every 10 days or so. You could still produce size gains in this
way, but it would be a much more gradual process. And finally you’re training or rather you’re
not training all of your muscle groups equally. If all you’re doing is going into the gym
to train your “showy” muscles like your chest or your biceps, or your abs then the
overall changes to your physique are going to be far less noticeable and take a much
longer period of time. So if you’re making any of those basic errors, you’re going to
want to fix those immediately. You’re going to want to make sure that you’re sticking
to a hypertrophy-based rep range anywhere between 5 and 12. You’re going to want to
make sure that you’re hitting each muscle group at least once per week, that you’re
performing multiple sets per muscle group during each session and that you’re training
your entire body with equal focus and intensity. However, assuming that you already have these
basic training principles in place, which I’m sure most of you do, then your lack of
size gains likely has nothing to do with your actual training plan at all. Yes, your current
plan could probably be tweaked and improved further but if you’re employing all of those
principles that I just mentioned and you’re making consistent gains in strength as well,
then your workout plan is already structured at least well enough to produce noticeable
gains in muscle size. So, what’s the real problem here? Well, it’s pretty simple and
it’s your diet. More specifically, you’re not consuming an adequate calorie intake each
day. Remember, in order for you to build a significant amount of muscle, you have to
provide your body with a calorie surplus each day by consistently consuming more calories
than you’re burning. Now this is known as the “law of energy balance”, and without
this in place, your gains are basically going to be non-existent. So if you’re gaining
strength without the size then the chances are that you’re consuming a level of calories
each day that is either right at or right around your calorie maintenance level. You’re
taking in enough for your body to maintain its current weight, but you’re not providing
that additional excess that is needed in order to fuel new hypertrophy gains. It’s possible
that you’re already aware of this, but if you’re simply “winging” your diet each
day without tracking anything then there’s a very good chance that you’re still going
to end up missing the mark. So what’s the basic solution here? Well, you need to find
out what your calorie maintenance level is, increase it by about 15 to 20 percent and
then track your intake each day in order to make sure that you’re falling within the proper
range. For the very best results you should ideally be tracking your individual macronutrient
intake as well, so your proteins, your carbs and your fats, but at the very least you’re
going to want to make sure that your calorie intake is nailed down. Total calorie intake
is the primary, underlying foundation of your entire nutrition plan and if this basic principle
is not being employed then you’re completely wasting your time at the gym. So, how do you
go about calculating this? Well, the easiest option is to just head over to SeanNal.com
and access my Free Bodybuilding Macronutrient Calculator, which I’ll link in the description
box below. This is going to completely automate the process for you and it just requires you
to punch in a few basic stats about yourself. Not only does the calculator outline your
daily calorie needs, but it’s also going to cover your protein, carb and fat needs as
well. Or, if for some reason you want to calculate this all manually then you can check out an
article that I wrote previously called “How Many Calories Per Day To Build Muscle” which
I’ll also link in the description box as well. This one simple shift in your bodybuilding
program is immediately going to take you from a place of complete stagnation to consistently
gaining brand new muscle size every single week. So thanks alot for watching this video
lesson. I appreciate all the support. If you found the information useful here today please
make sure to hit the Like button, leave a comment and subscribe to stay up to date on
future video lessons. Also make sure to check out my complete fully structured step-by-step
muscle building and fat loss programs over at BodyTransformationTruth.com. The link for
that is in the description box below and make sure to join the Facebook page for daily tips
and updates. The link for that is also in the description box. Talk to you again soon.

100 Replies to ““I’m Getting Stronger But Not Bigger!” (Strength Gains Without Mass)”

  1. Sean, been a gym rat for over 30 years. At 5'7 and 180lbs, size does not interest me as much as lean muscle and "strength" gains which, I have been attaining slowily but surely. I am not on any HRT but, I do take supplements (beta-alenine, creatine, glutamine, multi vits and fish oil) I think that's enough! Currently I workout 5 days a week for about an hour with two days off. Just like you said, hit each muscle group 2wice a week with equal intensity,3 sets of 8 to 12 reps max but, A calorie increase for me only increases gut size. At 55 and expiriencing consistant strenght gains seems kinda odd at my age (grateful no less) what's your take on it? BTW, like your vids very much, you're teaching this old dog some new tricks!!!

  2. Cheers for the vid. I had this concern for a while and have realised my diet needs adjusting since i've gained weight and have reached a new cal maintenance.

  3. But how long does it takes to get bigger ?
    I heard people saying that if you train consistently and regularly, an average person only gains around 5 pounds of lean muscle a year. Is that true ?

  4. Hey guys, just a quick note to let you know that I do my very best to respond to the questions that are posted here, but YouTube doesn't notify me of everything that is posted and with the hundreds of videos on this channel I can't possibly keep track of them all. If you don't receive a reply to your post, it most likely means that I simply didn't see it. If you need a guaranteed way to get in touch with me, please join the Facebook page and post your question there: https://www.facebook.com/SeanNalewanyjOfficial

  5. completely contradicted himself saying your doing 3 or less reps and then 12 or more reps then goes on to not tell you how many reps you should actually do terrrrrriiiiibbbbllle video so glad my friend showed me this for the good laugh 

  6. diet is crucial. I found that I could get stronger on actually a calorie deficit or maintenance. As soon as I discovered that I just wasn't eating enough so when I bumped up the calories the gains started coming again

  7. I'm gaining some size but I'm also making huge jumps in strength on a calorie maintenance/brief surplus. In August, I was 25% body fat at 217lbs.  I'm now 22.5% body fat at 218lbs.  I guess, I have to accept the fact that a increase in lbm, does not equal significantly larger arms. 

  8. I'm the opposite…I got bigger but my strength is less then desirable. I basically look stronger then what I am. Imparticular with compound movements (deadlift, squat, bench, overhead press). Going heavy makes me feel like shit physically and no noticeable size gainz if any at all. I tend to pull muscles to have joint pains also, which keeps me away from the gym for a good period of time. Pulled my back twice on a deadlift and benching kills my front delts.  

  9. Here's the thing, if you are continually getting stronger after 2 months size is surely to follow. You can't continually be getting stronger and not eventually get bigger. So I doubt diet is the problem here. Some people don't realise they are actually getting bigger but because it's not the gains they hoped they assume nothing has changed. A lot of 'body dysmorphia' going on here…

  10. Dude how can I grow my chest? All my other parts (back, Shoulder, legs, etc) grow except chest.. It only gets stronger but not bigger. any advice?

  11. Im trying to gain strength and not muscle should i do high weights with fast reps or lower weights with slow reps this is for sprinting

  12. I currently workout 5 days a week and have really been struggling with getting stronger and seeing good gains in all areas as far as mass and strength except my arms. In my arms ive seen an equal amount of strength gains but not as much size as the rest of my body.

    My current workout routine is

    Day 1. Arms
    Day 2.Chest/Back
    Day 3. Shoulders/Abs
    Day 4.Legs
    Day5. Arms

    And I always go 5 sets of 10-12 reps
     I EAT 5 and sometimes 6 small meals a day(if anything I probably eat too much)

    Any suggestions ?

  13. Im 5'9 and 170 and a little husky Is there a way I could still lose fat while making gains. Will the fat fuel the new hypertrophy gains.

  14. Hey sean. I am a wrestler and I want to gain strength from my work outs but not weight becuase of wrestling. Can you suggest a work out for me to use? Thanks

  15. I am getting stronger, been about 2.5 months in the gym, eating a lot and relatively right but i have gaining weight in my belly. have increase 4 pounds in this 2.5 months. weird because i am really getting stronger and working once a week every muscle. each day 50 min relatively high intensity

  16. I've been making substantial strength gains all year and have been tracking them on a weekly basis. I also started tracking body fat % and my weight over the past 3 months. Based on what you said I must be eating enough calories to maintain bc my body weight is staying at 158 – 161 lb, my body fat has fluctuated +- 4lb, and my strength continues to increase, shouldn't I at least be loosing fat?  My workout routine is consistent with what you recommended. My goal with the routine I have was to eat enough to maintain, gain strength, and let the fat come off slowly.. the only part not happening is the fat coming off. What's your thoughts?

  17. Hey Sean just a quick question, What if you are getting bigger slowly, and gaining strength however the scale is not changing all that much?

  18. So I could use lowering my calorie intake as a method of not gaining muscle weight? was thinking of lowering protein levels… need to keep in same weight div

  19. This is my problem I know I'm stronger because I'm lifting more , but I am doing like 3 reps on diff things depending on my muscle tiredness

  20. Hey guys, I've been working out for 5 months for 3-4 days a week and I've consumed adequate calories, yet I'm not building muscle at a fast rate. This sucks. Does my genetic cuk and should i take supplements liek creatine and beta?

  21. i have a question lets say your about 30 lbs over weight should you not have enough calories in your body to gain some muscles?

  22. So far in my ppl/ppl routine, I have not been seeing significant strength gains the past 3 weeks. How much strength gains should i see on a hypertrophy routine in 2 weeks generally?

  23. Honestly, working for muscle efficiency seems like the way to go, although you won't look as nice, you'll be pound for pound stronger than the big body builders. Also, you'd have less mass so daily things would require less energy, which I guess is efficiency…but I do have a question. Will you come to a point where your muscles have reached 100% full blown efficiency and require you to get bigger in order to keep getting stronger?

  24. But i dont want to gain mass i want to be thin as fuck and be able to lift 300 pound and people be like "WHAT THE FAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAK"

  25. I have hit a plateau on the bench even though i have only been lifting for about 4 months consistently. what do you suggest i change? (i hit chest once a week with full effort and i eat clean plentifully)

  26. I would like to gain strength without bulking. I would like to get as strong as possible, with the least amount of muscle tissue.

    What exercise routines and diet would you recommend? Routines that strengthen biceps, triceps, forearm, shoulders, pectorals, traps, and back and neck muscles. I would prefer if it could be anything that i can do at home without going to the gym. I have 5 lb and 10 lb dumbbells.

    Im already sort of fit, so i wouldn't mind at all if the exercise routines are a little demanding.

    Thanks for your time.

  27. i workout chest/back legs/shoulders those muscle groups twice a week, eating 3600+ calories and its been 30 days and ive stayed around the same weight but ive added 10kg onto my chest dips i dont really want to up the calories anymore as of money.

  28. I don't know man,I eat what I want and when I'm trying I will start on 4 reps and work up to 12 in the coming months, and when I hit 12 or more I up the weight and lower the reps, and about 10 years of that you will look a beast, simple

  29. Sean, what would one do, if one was trying to do this, on purpose? What kind of weight range, would you lift, while keeping sets low, and at caloric maintenance? I'm a martial artist/dancer, and need to stay small, but powerful/quick.Thanks.

  30. Thats the root of my problem, Sean. I am getting stronger and just plain leaner with some definition but no mass. With clothes on its questionable if I even lift. Im 6feet tall and always stick to a bouncing bodyweight between 190-200lbs. I been working out on and off since I was 16. I am 25. I am currently on a Full body workout 3 times a week. M/W/F. Squats back/front, deads, flat/incline bench , bb rows, pull ups/chins, clean jerks, dips are the bread and butter of my workouts. I use a buddy as a spotter on bench and squats to rep out those last reps. I go heavy like no tomorrow. Isolation exercises I may do 1-3 at the end. I hit all my compounds hard adding weight every week. Form always on check. 6-12 rep range. 3-4 sets. I eat and rest adequately. Sometimes I just wanna say fuck it and start looking for juicing options to break my genetic code because this is very frustrating bro. I pour out my heart at the gym and the gains are very minimal. Should I keep doing the full body or try a 5 day split? Thank you for your time

  31. maybe I am gaining muscle but can't really tell? I have been gaining weight steadily (2 pounds per month) as my strength is increasing.

  32. I was wondering if maybe you had or was planning a video on making gains in a year maybe having something to do with puberty.

  33. Thanks for this I actually want to increase my Strength but keep myself lite and maneuverable, much like a panther, or high performance sports car, others can be Elephants or Mac Trucks if that suits them 😉

  34. Is it possible to be lifting too heavy? I've been lifting heavy for three months straight. For example I do heavy 5×5 on bench press. I haven't gone up at all literally at a plateau.

  35. hello sean , i have a question…

    if someone didn't eat well , will his training only increase strength without Size ? how could the strength get increased doesn't it need some source of energy to grow ? ( strength gains )

    also if someone kept training greatly without getting 1G/LBS of protein , not even near , while being in a calorie surplus , will he be able to build muscle too ? , finally does strength has anything to do with the diet ?

  36. absolute knowledge about what he's talking ,one of the only legit YouTube fitness channel, whatever he says has scientific evidence to back it up unlike the other channel where they make Bro science claims with absolutely no evidence ,without even thinking just subscribe to him ! 🙂

  37. So for rock/wall climbing I need high strength-to-muscle mass ratio. So very few reps with heavy weights for high strength and mild mass gains is ideal. But also endurance is very important so many reps with light weights as well?

  38. Sean, is another possibility that one is 'recomping'? That is, using excess body fat to fuel muscle growth while staying the same weight?

  39. I got stronger in bench press and type of them.but I didn't curl or any tri or forarm workout did diff type of benching for 6 months and maxed at 225

  40. I believe that, the muscle forms in microscopic ways, such as, the muscle will form like a brick then will get bigger i dont think its possible for your muscle to get bigger with out stabilizing the muscle first, or will burn fat, the muscle will burn fat, such as arms, they will get smaller before they get bigger because your body is wasting energy to burn fat first rather than enlarge the muscle. thats why steroids will burn fat fast aswell as enlarge the muscle.

  41. It's amazing how simple this point is, and yet it needs to be explained ALL the time, because there are so many nonsense "tricks" out there.

  42. If I get stronger but not bigger, I won’t mind. Strength of the muscle, to me, is more important to me than the size of the muscle. Maybe sometimes bigger doesn’t always mean better…

  43. Thanks for sharing! I have always been told to eat more to get bigger beacause I’m already strong. But I would eat a lot and not packing as much muscle as I want. So now I’m training 2 months for Strenght, then will train 4 months for Hypertrophy (less weight, more reps, less rest), and then I will train for peak 3 months more (more reps, less weight). What’s your opinion on that periodization system, do you recommend it? Greetings from Ecuador, Southamerica.

  44. I disagree with the "if you're only doing 2 sets per muscle group per workout" is the reason you're not growing…what if you're doing that 2x per week? shouldn't the intensity level be looked at? Obviously if you're training to failure, you don't need a lot of sets…I have known many and I'm talking many dudes that have gotten huge doing a very low volume…look at dorian yates…sure he did steroids, but so did all the other pro's.

  45. I have a hard time gaining mass. Been training for 20 years. Tried eating 10,000 calories a day for about 6 months. Didnt gain any weight. Just strength as usual.

  46. I do powerlifting one week and bodybuilding the next week. It actually is the best for increasing body building workouts in my experience

  47. It’s just very shitty because i have a rare disease where it make’s me be able to NOT eat that much , fuck my life .

  48. Size is not about training and/or nutritional intake: it's about training and nutritional intake AND TESTOSTERONE LEVELS. You will only EVER produce test to a given level, no matter what you do. So anyone reading this, stop thinking you'll ever get huge naturally. You cannot and will not ever. If you have a big frame already, then great, you are ahead of the game with test levels. But a guy that weighs 130-160 normally will have a HUGELY DIFFICULT TIME even getting to 200lbs. And without artificially injected testosterone, he won't ever see 245 or 275. Ever. So stop thinking you're going to go natural and get huge. You never fucking will. You might gain 10-15lbs in your first year and maybe another 5-8lbs in the next year or so and that's about all, regardless of diet, regardless of anything.

  49. Guys let me tell u this ..Genetics goes a long way …some people just aren't mentioned to get big but doesn't mean u can't be strong

  50. Myofibrillar hypertrophy= heavy weight 3×5, 4×5, 5×5. Muscle density and strength due to more muscle fibers. Sarcoplasm hypertrophy = medium close to heavy weight 3×12 more reps less recovery time fuller bigger muscles due to more volume and fluid in the muscle.

  51. i started 40 days ago. went from 60kg to 90 kg in dead lift, 14 kg to 28 kg ez curl, 17,5kg to 25 kg dumbell press, 5 to 9 pullups.. was only focusing on strenght. today ill start working out for mass. 8-12 reps. I should eat some more now..

  52. I'm 5'9, 190 pounds, been lifting for almost 3 years. I'm strong but my muscles are not getting bigger! Why? Is it my diet problems?

  53. It’s bc in the beginning stages of lifting, ur body gains a decent amount of strength just off of improving your neuromuscular coordination (motor unit recruitment), once u get past that stage, muscle gain with strength increase is almost inevitable

  54. My theory is that I’m some sort of Superman that can’t get bigger from normal human exercises but has had such a pathetic and sedentary life style till now that my power is equal to that of a normal human and now that I’ve started working out I’m slowly but surely regaining my Herculean strength but with non of the size gains

  55. I've seen on a video that there are some people who have big sized muscles but aren't as strong as they look.  Like those people you see in the body builder contest who look like the Hulk but aren't strong as they appear.

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