There are quite a few misconceptions about bulking-up and strength training. Powerlifters, in particular, have more in common with sprinters and tennis players then their bodybuilding counterparts.
Some basic facts:
At the highest level, there are 2 muscle fiber types:
- white cell (fast twitch)
- red cell (slow twitch)
For the non-heavyweights (those that need to be in some sort of weight class and are thus, constrained to a weight), powerlifters are some of the most explosive, quickest athletes around. If you are squatting and deadlifting 3x bodyweight, and benching 2x bodyweight. It doesn't matter how 'thick' you are. You will be quite explosive and quick.
And that is what powerlifting and strength training are about
: performance. Not bulking up. The goal is to lift as much as you can, and weigh as little as possible.
There are 2 basic ways to increase strength without bulking up:
- very heavy weights at lower reps ( <6, which can be tough on the joints)
- lighter weight, higher reps, but here's the key... done with speed
The 8-12 rep range with moderate pace is where most people seem to spend their time. And this is a means to add both strength and bulk. Good in most cases, but not the highest-performance means of training.
Just some info...
Here are a few more intriguing facts and notes:
- given Andre's body size and weight (170lbs or so), I find it difficult to believe he can bench 315#. That's quite a good ratio for an ameature powerlifter who doesn't run around as much playing tennis.
But it is possible!
- At Andre's body weight (take him down to the 165# class), the current (non-drug-free) best bench press is 485#.
- At 181# class, it is 540#
There are 4 important features of a good bench presser, and it isn't about short arms and big chests.
The keys are,
1 - having a genetic disposition for high-percentage white-to-red-cell fiber count
2 - optimium tenden insertion points within the joints.
3 - technqiue: If you want to leverage your joints (read, injure yourself in the spirit of winning, not health), you can abandon the 90-degree angle rule and let your arms go straight back, leveraging your triceps against your lats.
4 - finding your optimimum grip - which is usually more narrow than you'd expect. Out of all the skeletal muscles in the body, the triceps has the highest ratio of white-to-red cell fibres, which should read, "most powerful for their size" - and when training to be light-weight, can be more advantageous than the chest in high-performance bench pressing