Hey folks, coach Alex here. and today we are going to be answering a question direct from one of my email subscribers, namely, “How do I train strength and hypertrophy at the same time”

It’s the tale as old as time, this one. How do you train to get as big as possible and as strong as possible? How do we combine those things? I’m gonna offer my thoughts, plus share some of the approaches I take with my athletes to do exactly this.

Also, if you’re new here, I’m Alex, a professional S&C coach for 10+ years, as well as a tutor for British Weightlifting. I make my living by providing an online coaching service, where I guarantee measurable performance improvements in 12 weeks (Or you don’t pay) so I literally put my money where my mouth is when it comes to this stuff.

Video Summary


Strength Training Vs Size Training – In a Nutshell

Okay, so…

Basic sets and rep differences within the session…

Strength training, we typically know you’re talking about slightly lower reps with slightly heavier weights, lots of sets of anything from one to five to six reps generally, right.

And then hypertrophy (size) training, we most people tend to think of it as being sort of that eight to twelve rep range. The literature shows it’s way, way broader. So you can do anything from basically five to 30 reps and get really good effective hypertrophy training.

Fun Hypertrophy (Size) Training Fact

From a theoretical perspective, you can even do lots of sets of two and three reps and still get really, really good hypertrophy results. The major drawback to that is, of course, that it creates a bunch of fatigue because you’re doing lots of heavy weights. It also takes a long time to recover between sets, so your sessions take forever.

Exercise Selection Differences

With strength training you need big compound exercises. Right, where you can move lots of weight.

With Hypertrophy training you’re more trying to target specific muscle groups. So whilst compound lifts are still a good base, you generally also want plenty of more isolated training that targets specific muscles.

strength is not size training comparison

The Problem Trying to Train Both Strength and Size At The Same Time

So you have these two types of training that, yes, they’re both in the gym, they’re both resistance training, so they’ve got overlap, right. But they’re not 100% aligned.

You do loads of strength training, you’ll find that it’s hard to push hypertrophy because you’re going to be too fatigued, because strength training beats you up, right? At least that’s what most athletes tend to find to be the case, especially the bigger and stronger you get.

On the flip side, as most people that have done hard hypertrophy workouts are going to tell you, if you’ve done five sets of hard hip hinge, romanian deadlifts on Thursday, and then you come in on Friday or Saturday trying to do some heavy squats or deadlifts, your body’s not going to be capable of hitting big numbers because your hamstrings are already too beaten up.

The same goes if you’ve done a bunch of chest work, if you’ve done loads of flies and cable flies and like, bodybuilding hypertrophy type work, and then you come in two, even three days later, and you try and do some heavy bench press work, chances are you’re going to be carrying some soreness, some fatigue, so its gonna limit how much you can bench.

“In short, too much strength work gets in the way of hypertrophy, and too much hypertrophy work gets in the way of strength”

Coach Alex – Me – Said Right Now

My 2 Solutions – How I Have My Athletes Train Strength and Hypertrophy at the Same Time

  • The powerbuilding approach
  • The phasic approach

My powerbuilding approach to strength and size

I tend to use this one more with beginners, early intermediates. And this is like a hybrid approach where you’ll do both concurrently. So you’d start a day and you would do your strength training movement when you’re freshest, then follow it with hypertrophy work.

For an applied example. You start an upper body day with bench press (say for five sets of five) Just a really simple example. And then you would follow that with some chest hypertrophy work. So maybe some dumbbell flies, some cable flies. Then you follow that with just some general upper body assistance work, maybe some cable sort of hypertrophy work for your shoulders, maybe some extra work for your back, whatever you fancy, right?

But you get the general idea, strength work. Then two or three hypertrophy exercises to follow.

Example Powerbuilding Upper Body Chest Focus Day (With a shoulder accessory)

My phasic approach to strength and size

So approach one (powerbuilding) is good for beginners, for early intermediates, but as you get bigger and stronger, it will very likely become self-limiting as the types of training start to interfere too much just like we discussed above.

So what you’re going to want to do is introduce phase potentiation or phase periodization. Right? So you have one phase dedicated hypertrophy followed by one dedicated phase for strength.

Size Phase (4-8 weeks):

You’ll focus on hypertrophy sets, reps and exercise selection. Lots of classic bodybuilding work. Now, I recommend that whilst you could technically go all the way up to sets of 20 to 30 reps, I’d keep everything in the 5 to 15 rep kind of range, just because we don’t want to get too far away from the heavier loads.

Milk this phase for as much as you can, gain some real size. Then move onto your…

Strength phase (4-8 weeks):

Now you focus exclusively on your strength work. So you’re going to drop that volume right back down and just focus on lots of sets of one to five reps with heavier loads and big rests in between.

This is where you aim to push the weights up each week, ending the block with some new PR’s.

Size and Strength Phasic Training

Which Approach to Training Strength and Size At The Same Time Should I Use?

  • If you’re a beginner or early intermediate, go with the powerbuilding approach. I’ve literally used this approach to add 100+ lb’s to my lifters’ totals in as little as 12 weeks, as well as adding 6-12lbs of size.
  • If you’re more of an intermediate or advanced lifter, then go with the phasic approach.

If you’re unsure, then what I recommend is trying the powerbuilding approach for one training block (4-6 weeks) and seeing how it goes. If you feel great and make PR’s, then stick with it. If you just end up feeling beaten up all the time or having kind of crappy sessions, then switch over to a phasic approach.

Next Steps

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To Your Performance!

Alex Parry