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View Full Version : Increasing strength vs. increasing size


Elliot Royce
06-04-2007, 11:51 AM
I thought this might be interesting. I asked my coach why my thighs had not increased in size since March even though my leg strength had increased so much.

Here's his response:

Well first it proves that you have a lot of untapped potential! You've only just started working your legs, fully, in the last month or two.
Its interesting, but at first espescially it is known that most of the increase in stregnth output comes from neurolugical factors, not just increased cross section-
-synchrony and coordination of exact muscles used espescially in a multi joiunt movement,

-disinhibition of the antagonist (opposing muscle group) ie unnecessary muscles get out of the way

- disinhibition of protective factors like Golgi Tendon Organs that normally protect the muscle from generating too much force at once and doing harm.
Whe nthey "learn" to let more motor units fire, more force output results with not yet a big change in size. This is why we train with low reps and big weight, with lots of sets. Many ways of teaching the body to generate big force, something it naturally doesn't due for safety reasons.

- also this typ[e of hypertrophy, called myofibrillar hypertrophy, is known not to be as quick or drastic as the "pump" kind, called sarcoplasmic hypertrophy. In myofibrillar, the contractile elemnets, actin and myosin, thicken and increase in number., in sarcoplasmic, the noncontractile elements, mostly fluid (sarcoplasm) increases. This is why the bodybuilder who is very large, does not walk onto the oOlympic platform and cj 700 pounds, even tho he "looks it" - to those who don't know what theyre looking
at:-) and by the same token, the Oler is not going to don a pair of posing trunks and win the Olympiia. Interesting stuff, vital to knowing how to train for the results you want.

Yuen Sohn
06-04-2007, 12:54 PM
Yeah, it's pretty amazing to see some of the weights thrown around by people who aren't necessarily built like a brick sh-thouse.

Here's a 77kg class lifter from NJ, Mike Tirrito, snatching 130kg...
http://youtube.com/watch?v=HjYgfOAzeNM
...and he only outweighs me by a few pounds!

There's another local lifter, Peter Musa, whom I recently saw snatching 100 and CJ'ing 123 at a bodyweight of under 69kgs (he's around 14 or 15 years old, btw).

http://www.womag1.com/Photos/displayimage.php?album=toprated&cat=0&pos=15

To see this in-person is both inspiring and depressing at the same time...

Greg Everett
06-04-2007, 03:16 PM
usually with classic weightlifting (sans anabolic agents), you don't get hugely muscular bodies--training in that 1-3 rep range is nearly all neurological development. the lifters you see who are huge are a) genetically pre-disposed to be muscular; b) tend to do more building work such as 5s and 6s (there are some lifters at the OTC who sometimes do 10s in the squat--why, I couldn't tell you); and/or c) on drugs. plus these guys early in their careers move into their final weight classes and then must continue making strength gains without getting any heavier.

Elliot Royce
06-04-2007, 05:56 PM
Yoon - I know what you mean but somehow being 45 years old with 2 artificial hips allows me to rationalize (although I know I wouldn't have been doing that at 14 years old).

Greg - I remember something in Kono's book about knowing who the bad O lifters were: they had the overdeveloped biceps and triceps. Doing it inefficiently produces more muscle mass.

Derek Simonds
06-04-2007, 06:42 PM
Yeah, it's pretty amazing to see some of the weights thrown around by people who aren't necessarily built like a brick sh-thouse.

Here's a 77kg class lifter from NJ, Mike Tirrito, snatching 130kg...
http://youtube.com/watch?v=HjYgfOAzeNM
...and he only outweighs me by a few pounds!

To see this in-person is both inspiring and depressing at the same Time...

Uh I out weigh him by at least 10 Kg's and I am excited about doing 1/2 plus bw snatches let alone almost 2 times bw. Wow! I have figured out anytime I need motivation it is only as far away as YouTube. Amazing some of the lifts on there.

John Alston
06-05-2007, 10:34 AM
It's funny how rare to see anyone do as few reps as 5 or 6, let alone singles, doubles or triples in a regular gym. Don't they ever want to test themselves for a max, just to see?
Though a lot of serious bb will mix in occasional max effort work because it helps to develop muscle quality and can lead to better size gains later, but the mooks who do endless sets always get the puffy muscle and don't show their countless hours of "work" in the gym.

John Alston
06-07-2007, 06:59 AM
usually with classic weightlifting (sans anabolic agents), you don't get hugely muscular bodies--training in that 1-3 rep range is nearly all neurological development. the lifters you see who are huge are a) genetically pre-disposed to be muscular; b) tend to do more building work such as 5s and 6s (there are some lifters at the OTC who sometimes do 10s in the squat--why, I couldn't tell you); and/or c) on drugs. plus these guys early in their careers move into their final weight classes and then must continue making strength gains without getting any heavier.

So Greg, would you put 5s in a more building than strengthening rep range? I thought 5s were a good median between the two extremes. That is, you might build more size with 5s than with 2s, but you'd be building muscle of still a high quality, unlike, say, in sets of 8 or 12.

Greg Everett
06-07-2007, 09:06 AM
5/6s will build some size, and definitely more quality size than 8-12s (they are a good balance, hence their popularity). But it's rare to find an advanced lifter who does higher than 5s. So in the weightlifting arena, I would consider 5/6s size building because if the goal is strictly strength, lower reps will work better

Allen Yeh
06-07-2007, 09:38 AM
I recall Christian Thibadeau over at T-nation defines reps between 4-6 as functional hypertrophy.

Mike ODonnell
06-07-2007, 10:24 AM
I recall Christian Thibadeau over at T-nation defines reps between 4-6 as functional hypertrophy.

Yeah but doesnt he also promote volume during the week....aka one day of 4-6 and another or 12-15 reps? Variety is good....

John Alston
06-07-2007, 12:31 PM
Well, then I guess I'll stick to 1-3 on my olifts, squats, and pulls, while doing 3-5s on the bis and tris for the hyoooge guns, and 3-6s on db rows to get so wide that I can glide on my lats like a flying squirrel.

Steven Low
06-08-2007, 12:31 AM
I think Mark Rippetoe's rep range chart from Starting Strength works pretty well.

http://www.startingstrength.com/files/sample200.pdf

5 is a good blend of size and strength. Of course, if you don't eat enough you aren't going to get the size benefits, well at least you won't become heavier.

John Alston
06-08-2007, 09:03 AM
That's a great graphic in there. Thanks!

Elliot Royce
06-08-2007, 10:10 AM
get so wide that I can glide on my lats like a flying squirrel.

I'm more like Bullwinkle myself!

Yuen Sohn
06-08-2007, 01:13 PM
Well, then I guess I'll stick to 1-3 on my olifts, squats, and pulls, while doing 3-5s on the bis and tris for the hyoooge guns, and 3-6s on db rows to get so wide that I can glide on my lats like a flying squirrel.

Well, don't go too crazy with those or else we'll have to start greasing you into your newly-purchased singlet.

John Alston
06-08-2007, 01:58 PM
Well, don't go too crazy with those or else we'll have to start greasing you into your newly-purchased singlet.

Is that a promise?