On today's show Robert and Trent welcome guest coach Andy Baker, Starting Strength Coach and co-author of Practical Programming for Strength Training, 3rd Edition and The Barbell Prescription: Strength Training for Life After 40. Andy is a master coach with a wide range of expertise and interests. He coaches high level competitive powerlifters, bodybuilders, high school and collegiate sport athletes, and regular folks just looking to become generally fit and strong. Along the way he's learned a lot about packing on muscle, and has identified common mistakes guys make when struggling to add mass, especially to their upper body.
In today's show Andy addresses the difference between strength training and hypertrophy training, a frequent point of contention amongst powerlifters, bodybuilders, and the "gym bro" crowd. As Andy puts it, both bodybuilding and powerlifting are performance based, whether you like it or not. The powerlifter obviously must perform on a platform where his or her best lifts will be judged on completion, while a bodybuilder is judged on more subjective criteria such as muscle size, symmetry, and separation. Both competitors are strength athletes; growing muscle requires regularly adding weight to the target lifts and progressively overloading them. Where they will differ is specificity. The powerlifter will need to train his skill and neuromuscular efficiency in producing 1RM's on meet day, while the bodybuilder needs to look a certain way. For the bodybuilder, then, the ideal rep ranges will be higher -- most likely 4 to 12 reps -- while the powerlifter will spend more time in the 5 and under rep range. Likewise, the bodybuilder will choose exercises which stimulate the most muscle group for their unique body type, anthropometry, and genetic predisposition, while the powerlifter will spend most of his time performing the competion lifts (squat, bench, deadlift).
Thus, one of Andy's keys to growing muscle mass is understanding that the goals are different from general strength training and especially competitive strength sports. There are no required lifts for growing muscle. Instead, you want to focus on lifts which are highly stimulative to the muscles you're trying to grow, and these lifts will vary from person to person. Andy paraphrases one of his influences, bodybuilding coach Dante Trudell, when he says "pick a handful of movements that work for your body and get them as strong as possible in a medium rep range."
Andy has written extensively about training for strength, mass, and sport on his website. He also offers in-person and online coaching, as well as programming templates for a variety of fitness goals:
Andy also has a podcast, the Baker Barbell Podcast, available on all the usual streaming platforms.
Weights & Plates: https://weightsandplates.com
Robert Santana on Instagram: @the_robert_santana
Trent Jones: @marmalade_cream