I'm interested in developing "hypertrophy nonsense," as Mehdi from StrongLifts calls it. (Apparently I hold it in higher regard than he does.)

I've been lifting weights for 18 years, mostly with no results. The exceptions where I actually showed improvement are (1) when I first started at age 19, (2) when I took creatine a couple years later, (3) when I started eating like a horse a couple years after that, and (4) when I started StrongLifts earlier this year.

There was something magical about StrongLifts, but I don't know what. Maybe it was the particular combination of exercises, maybe it was the whole body routine rather than a split, maybe it was the training frequency, maybe it was the rep count...I don't know. I guess it's even possible that it was all a consequence of primal eating, and the training had nothing to do with it.

But something worked. After years of little to no results, I tried StrongLifts and made significant gains in strength and hypertrophy nonsense. Squats up 100 pounds in three months, deadlifts up 85. Arms, shoulders, back, and legs bigger, even though I lost weight.

Around the 3 month point, I did my second deload on every exercise and switched from 5x5 to 3x5. And after that, the gains stopped. I haven't added any weight to the big lifts in the last 4 months. Actually, I lost strength when I lost some fat (a fair tradeoff to me).

I wasn't expecting to hit the wall this soon. I thought I'd keep progressing (just more slowly) on 3x5, then 1x5, then Madcow. But now I'm revisiting my goals.

Here's the thing: I don't really care about gaining strength without muscle. I know, that's blasphemous to say around here. But take a look at the testimonials in the StrongLifts ebook. These people have gotten very strong but still don't look good. In one case, I thought the before and after pics might have been switched. That's a major fail in my book.

No, I don't want to look like a competitive bodybuilder, but I think I have to train as if I did, to get a fraction of the results (not having the right genes or drugs).

Many people say that strength gains directly lead to muscle gains (false), or strength is all that matters (also false), but for me, it's all about the hypertrophy nonsense. I'm not anti-strength, but it's just not a priority, and if there's a different routine I can follow to improve my physique faster, that's what I want.

So, how do you effectively pursue the hypertrophy nonsense, while steering clear of conventional wisdom?