Back in the day, many brainwashed people used to spread the notion that you have to get “strong” before switching to high rep volume routines. The idea is simple – if your squat is 100lbs/45kg, you are not going to benefit as much from sets of 10 as somebody who can lift 300lbs/136kg. On the grounds of this, beginners are taught to train for strength specifically before engaging in “bodybuilding stuff”. I’ve supported this principle although I had some serious doubts since the information was coming from permabulkers blindly following the self-proclaimed fitness gurus. Today, I know that it’s nonsense.
If you can squat 300lbs for 3 reps, you can probably do 240lbs for 10. Cool, but you can technically get to 240lbs for 10 with cycles designed to increase your reps. Yes, you are going to lift lighter weights, especially in the beginning, but who cares if you arrive at 240lbs for 10 anyway? More importantly, you will look the same regardless of the path you choose.
In the long run, strength training is one of the few productive pursuits left for naturals.
As a natty, you won’t be growing year after year because the body does not have the hormones required to trigger and support exceptional growth. However, you can continue to get stronger for many years. You are not going to become as strong as a steroid abuser, but you will be much stronger than the wannabes in the gym and the rest of the population thinking that the water bottles in the office require alienesque strength to move.
You can keep increasing your strength for many years if you cycle your training properly. However, you also have to be realistic. There are many programs out there promising to add many plates to your lifts, but most are just hype. I would rather do a realistic routine than bet on a miracle that’s supposed to turn me into a monster in 6-10 weeks.
Strength is the original product of resistance training. Hypertrophy has always been secondary since it’s a dependent mainly on nutrition, structure, and body chemistry.
Without strength training, naturals are left with irrelevant variables that do not produce measurable progress regardless of their values. For example, wondering whether you should do lateral raises or not is pointless because with or without them, your shoulders will look pretty much the same. Wondering whether you should eat 100 or 150 grams of protein is also a waste of time – in both situations, your physique will remain identical.
With that said, I have to admit that there was a point in my life when I got tired of strength training because it was not making me any bigger. Who cares how strong you are when you look emaciated or fat, right? I was very angry because the strength gurus had lied to me. They told me that strength equals muscle, but it wasn’t exactly the case. Ironically, even to this day, the gurus continue to preach the same story – get strong and worry about abs later. They want you to believe that you can be 240lbs/110kg with visible abs naturally, but you can’t. The natural potential is not that high.
If you are natural, strength and skill training represent a good way to preserve your sanity. Of course, your progress will slow down tremendously after a while, but it will continue long after you stop adding muscle to your frame.
Please, don’t kill the messenger.