Ew! Don’t Get Neurologically Bulky

Have you ever wondered how someone with a two hundred pound deadlft could improve to a four hundred pound deadlift without doubling in size? Probably not, right?

Chances are you haven’t thought about this because, well, only nerds like us coaches think about this kind of thing and there’s a prevailing worldview, misguided as it may be, that strength and size are synonymous. The reality is that is that, at best, it’s not that simple and, more than likely, the most accurate way to talk about the issue is that size and strength are, more or less, coincidences. Being bigger does make moving weight easier but, well, getting stronger doesn’t mean you’ll get bigger. Don’t believe me? Science says you should.

In our world, the dominating concern amongst those that refrain from strength training is in an effort to avoid that pesky, instant reaction to weight training that is packing on muscle and bulk, which, by the way, if you know where to find such a side effect please let me know. (I’ve been looking). Not only does this sound a lot like not wanting to eat carrots because you don’t want to turn orange, it does prevent your ability to break free of a life without strength.

Strength training (whether you believe it or not) is arguably the most valuable physical asset to men and women regardless of their specific goals, especially when the average person’s lack of strength is a liability in both usefulness and safety. Having it doesn’t mean you need to use it and their nothing to replace it. Furthermore, it’s an asset that is largely neurological. That’s right. Our central nervous system is the key thing we’re training here.

The adaptation is mostly invisible and resides deep in the hardware of our nervous system. If this wasn’t true, our friend with a two hundred pound deadlift would need to put on twice the muscle mass to one day deadlift four hundred pounds. Yet, we see athletes put dozens or even hundreds of pounds on their lifts while losing mass. Clearly, this would be an impossibility for those that believed lifting weights (especially for women) means catastrophic muscle growth. This is made possible, of course, by improving the nervous system.

As long as you don’t lift weight because you don’t want to grow in size, two things will remain true:

1. A little hundred pound female lifter from Iran will wonder why your maxes are 25% of hers and,

2. You’ll continue to miss out on the strength asset you could utilize in every corner of your life.

Grab a barbell. We’ll be over here in the mind gym.


Logan Gelbrich


2/26/16 WOD

Reebok CrossFit Games Open Workout – 16.1


25′ Overhead Walking Lunges (95/65)

8 Burpees

25′ Overhead Walking Lunges

8 Chest-to-Bar Pull Ups