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View Full Version : Strength Gain questions for someone new to the site!


Scott Robertson
07-11-2008, 11:44 AM
I apologize in advance for the length of the post.
I have been doing Crossfit for about 1 year and enjoying it tremendously. I have seen great results in times and weights compared to where I was before I started. I perform OK on the metcon workouts that are bodyweight and/or light weight such as Fran. I find my area of greatest weakness is my pure strength. Therefore I feel it is time to get a little more serious/focused on increasing my strength. If possible I would also like to keep my overall /metcon performance where it is if not improve.

I have done a lot of reading including Greg's Mass Gain program as well as some of the starting strength strings on the Crossfit board. The more I read the more I get confused. Which is why I have these questions. But first, a little about me:

33 years old, 165lbs, 5'10", approx. 12% body fat
Squat 260lbs
DL 370lbs
Press 135lbs
Bench 200lbs
C&J 180lbs
split snatch 150lbs

I am currently on a 17 block zone program as recommended in the Crossfit Zone article for my size.

Now the questions.

1. I want to get my numbers up on all of my lifts. Is that a strength gain or a mass gain or are they both the same. Can you gain the same amount of strength without a large mass gain. I am not against a mass gain but I am also not trying to gain mass just for the sake of gaining mass.

2. Would I be better starting off with the starting strength program or the Mass Gain program. Do each of the programs have different strengths and weaknesses or will they both accomplish the same goal.

3. I have a schedule that allows me to workout twice in one day. Is it reasonable to plan on doing the WOD, metcon, bodyweight exercises in the morning and the strength exercises at night.

4. In terms of nutrition, I understand that it is key and have been trying to clean up my diet which I will continue to do. In terms of quantity I understand that an increase in intake is required for a strength gain. Is that as simple as upping my zone blocks from 17 to 20 or 25 or higher? Or, keeping them at 17 and only increasing the fat or increasing fat and protein? Or, a combination of each, and if so are there any guidelines. I do better when I can follow something very direct and strict.

5. Supplements - I am currently taking 2500 mg of EPA/DHA a day. Is that enough or does it even vary with changing to a strength gain workout. Is there any other key supplement that I should be taking such as Creatine (Kre-Alkalyne vs Monohydrate, etc...) or others. I am not interested in loading up on 12 different supplements just for the sake of extra minute gains, however if there is something that is key for strength gains that would be great to know.

Thanks in advance for your help
Scott

Liam Dougherty Springer
07-12-2008, 03:43 PM
I am in a similar position some of your answers are in a thread called mass and strength in this section.

doubleing up on trainig programs will be counter productive without doing a lighter version of both.

Mike ODonnell
07-12-2008, 04:35 PM
Mass = eat more + workout less/lift heavy

Double workouts + metcons = skinny

Focus on mass or performance only...trying to do both will not get you results you are looking for

Steven Low
07-12-2008, 04:55 PM
1. Identify your goals. What is it that you want to accomplish? Prioritize them. For example, strenght is fairly vague. Do you want to have a 300 lbs bench, 400 lbs squat and 500 lbs dead for example? Do you want to be able to knock out freestanding handstand pushups? If you "like" metcon... why is it that you want to get better at that? Do you REALLY want to gain weight? You don't have to if you want to get stronger you know.

Really focus on specifics. A workout that has no direction won't go anywhere fast or well.

2. We can build something around that. Or use a prior existing program. Like MOD said you can't do too much at once.


You are probably a little advanced for SS... actually no I take that back there's a huge discrepancy between your squat and your deadlift. Squatting a lot would be good for you.

In general: Eat a lot and eat clean. Sleep well. Lift heavy.

Don't worry about too much supplements as long as you have fish oil. If you want you can add creatine or BCAAs if you really want some more performance... but you don't really NEED anything else.

Dave Van Skike
07-12-2008, 06:39 PM
a bad program pursued with enthusiasm is better than all the scientifical equivocating in the world. contrary to what you may have heard...this shit is simple. it ain't easy but it's simple.

Scott Robertson
07-14-2008, 01:49 PM
Thanks for the replies.

I am looking to get strong in functional movements. So while I would like to improve my lifts, I don't want to do it at the expense of getting fat and significantly slowing down my metcon abilities. i.e. current 1rm on deadlift is 375, I would like to be able to achieve 400-425 which is 2.5x bw. My goal is to be able to hit the recommended weights set out in the Crossfit skills chart for the top level, same as the starting strength chart for the top level.

I think it has finally hit home that I shouldn't be doing 2 workouts a day, one heavy and the other metcon but instead focus on heavy lifting since that is my goal.

In terms of programs, I am considering the starting strength vs. the mass gain. Is one preferred over the other. It appears that the mass gain is more comprehensive in that it has you doing more types of exercises during the week. The examples given in SS only have you repeating the same 3 exercises.

In terms of nutrition, is there any guide in terms of the amount of calories I should be taking. I realize that I will need to eat more. I am currently on 17 blocks which has given me energy while slimming me down. Do I simply up the number of blocks to 20 or 25?, do I keep the clean carbs low while only increasing fat and/or protein?

I would also like to get strong and if I can do that without gaining a huge amount of weight even better. Not sure if that means a different approach to lifting is required or to dieting?

Thanks for your help
Scott

Derek Weaver
07-14-2008, 03:40 PM
Scott,
You seem kind of like you've got a lot of goals you're chasing at once. If you want to get really, really strong and eclipse that 400lb DL with a bit of weight gain, then SS is for you. It's got more than 3 exercises, so I'm a little confused by that statement.

Then again, Mass Gain could be for you also if that's more appealing.


Is it necessary to add a lot of weight while getting stronger? No. But it makes it a hell of a lot easier.

Focus on getting ridiculously strong, then take off whatever excess weight gain that's accumulated.
Either way, more food, less activity and heavier weights. Simple but not easy.

Otherwise, you'll take forever getting your strength to where you want/need it to be.

Scott Robertson
07-14-2008, 04:52 PM
Thanks Derek,

I guess that means no more Metcons either. In terms of frequency per week, SS is only 3 days with the 3 exercises per day, i.e. squat, press, pullups. Mass gain is 5 days a week with oly lifts thrown in as well. For pure strength gain is 5 better than 3 if i am lifting heavy?

Scott

Liam Dougherty Springer
07-14-2008, 05:35 PM
Has not been mentioned yet so I'll throw it out there...

Have you looked into Coach Rutherfords Maximum Effort Black Box method of stength gain?

It might interest you. I personally am going to go through the SS the Mass Gain programs first.

You are already lifting quite a bit more than me so I would think maybe one full cycle of MEBB (takes 36 days) and then the Mass gain might be an option. This way you will get a great idea of your 1RM for whatever lifts you choose to use during the MEBB. Simultaniousely you can hang onto a little of those preciouse WODs while you are preparing for your intensive strength phase.

I am currently reading SS. I must say that it is extreemly instructive as to proper lift technique. You may have already read it, if not do so before any program you chose.

Steven Low
07-14-2008, 05:47 PM
Thanks Derek,

I guess that means no more Metcons either. In terms of frequency per week, SS is only 3 days with the 3 exercises per day, i.e. squat, press, pullups. Mass gain is 5 days a week with oly lifts thrown in as well. For pure strength gain is 5 better than 3 if i am lifting heavy?

Scott
Buy SS and read it. Then do it.

There's more exercises in it than you listed.... like bench, deadlift, power clean....

Derek Weaver
07-15-2008, 07:01 PM
Exactly Steven. I kept getting confused as to the "there's only 3 exercises".

Scott,
I personally would go the SS route... THEN Mass Gain. Work the old school "core lifts", then work into front squats and oly work etc. via Mass Gain.

It's a long slow process that is well worth it if you work hard.

Scott Robertson
07-16-2008, 05:43 AM
Thanks. I'll read SS. Based on what I have found so far on SS, I think I ready to start. For the beginners, it looks lilke 3 workouts a week working through the core lifts.

Are these the only workouts I should be doing during the week? No more Crossfit style workouts because they may jeapordize/slowdown my strength gain progress.

So eat 3000 calories a day, and workout out 3 times a week. This will take some getting used to. I was working out 6+ times a week including some double workouts plus <2000 calories on the zone. Am I missing anything other than lots of sleep.

How much weight should I expect to gain over the next month and how much of that will be muscle versus fat.

Once again, thanks for the help.
Scott

John Alston
07-16-2008, 07:32 AM
http://www.bantamapparel.com/sku/stickmen-holding-hands-peace-shirt-pi_mg-2_PI69.jpg

Dave Van Skike
07-16-2008, 07:46 AM
http://www.bantamapparel.com/sku/stickmen-holding-hands-peace-shirt-pi_mg-2_PI69.jpg

i believe a line has been crossed. those gentlemen's heads have been detached..i find this very threatening.

Scott, I think John is either telling you that you can expect 2.75-3.27 pounds of quality lean mass per month....or.... something along the lines of "suck it up buttercup"


Mark Rippatoe has an approach that is totally logical that I've used. If your focus is strength, do only the strength workouts laid out in whatever 3-4-5 day split you're on for a little while (I'd guess like three weeks) then add one short conditioning workout (<10min..no long ones) per week, track how that impacts recovery and progress..you should find a sweet spot where you can do a little cross fit or whatever, without slowing progress...the key is you Have To Track Progress...be fascist about it. also go read the hybrid programming thread for an example of someone really dialing this in for themselves. Plus Gant trains at Mark's gym I think.

good luck. oh yeah, what derek said, i've certainly found that it was easier to work on strength initially, once you have legit sticking points, you can eat your way through them.

Derek Weaver
07-16-2008, 01:09 PM
Good post Dave. Too often people try and "chase two rabbits at once" and never get anywhere.

Strength before strength endurance.

Read the book... then start the program. Don't do anything because you "think you're ready". And try and eat more than 3k calories/day. If you tolerate milk well, drink a lot of freaking milk along with your food.

As for "weight gain" and "muscle vs. fat"... I don't know.
Keep us updated.

Scott Robertson
07-18-2008, 08:43 AM
Well I am doing Starting Strength and trying to pack in the calories. I will be doing 3 workouts a week to start with heavy weights and not metcon. I do play the occasional game of soccer or bike ride but nothing too strenuous. I also plan on tracking my progress in the exercise log forum.

My goal for calories is approx. 5000 a day when I work out and 4-5000 on the other days. Target protein is 350g (2 x bw), fat is 300g and carb is 225g. I would appreciate any comments on the percentages/quantities I am using as well as the quality of food I am consuming

July 17th - Day 1

167.2 pounds

First ever effort at 5000 calories

here is my break down from Fitday:

Calories Eaten Today
grams cals %total
Total: 4903
Fat: 258 2324 49%
Sat: 67 604 13%
Poly: 31 283 6%
Mono: 124 1120 23%
Carbs: 287 999 21%
Fiber: 37 0 0%
Protein: 364 1455 30%

I spread the calories over 5 equal sized meals throught the day consisting of:


3 eggs
1.25 cups of egg whites
4 cups of 2% milk
1.5 cups of raspberries
7 tbsp of olive oil
4 protein shakes (with some carbs and fat)
2/3 cup of almonds
1 apple
1 slice of pizza
2 chicken fajitas
Fish oil - 1 tbsp
Purple K Creatine
BCAA
ZMA


Workout (Starting Strength - Beginner)

500 m row - 2:10
Squat 5x45 5x45 5x45 5x135 1x185 5x205 5x205 5x205
Bench 5x45 5x45 5x45 5x95 5x95 5x140 5x140 5x140
DL 5x135 5x135 5x135 5x205 5x210
Chinups 5x10 5x10 5x10 5x10

Steven Low
07-18-2008, 12:09 PM
Looks ok. Probably too many cals but let's see how it works out for a week or two.

Dave Van Skike
07-18-2008, 05:10 PM
Well I am doing Starting Strength and trying to pack in the calories. I will be doing 3 workouts a week to start with heavy weights and not metcon. I do play the occasional game of soccer or bike ride but nothing too strenuous. I also plan on tracking my progress in the exercise log forum.

My goal for calories is approx. 5000 a day when I work out and 4-5000 on the other days. Target protein is 350g (2 x bw), fat is 300g and carb is 225g. I would appreciate any comments on the percentages/quantities I am using as well as the quality of food I am consuming

July 17th - Day 1

167.2 pounds

First ever effort at 5000 calories

here is my break down from Fitday:

Calories Eaten Today
grams cals %total
Total: 4903
Fat: 258 2324 49%
Sat: 67 604 13%
Poly: 31 283 6%
Mono: 124 1120 23%
Carbs: 287 999 21%
Fiber: 37 0 0%
Protein: 364 1455 30%

I spread the calories over 5 equal sized meals throught the day consisting of:


3 eggs
1.25 cups of egg whites
4 cups of 2% milk
1.5 cups of raspberries
7 tbsp of olive oil
4 protein shakes (with some carbs and fat)
2/3 cup of almonds
1 apple
1 slice of pizza
2 chicken fajitas
Fish oil - 1 tbsp
Purple K Creatine
BCAA
ZMA


Workout (Starting Strength - Beginner)

500 m row - 2:10
Squat 5x45 5x45 5x45 5x135 1x185 5x205 5x205 5x205
Bench 5x45 5x45 5x45 5x95 5x95 5x140 5x140 5x140
DL 5x135 5x135 5x135 5x205 5x210
Chinups 5x10 5x10 5x10 5x10

that is some inspired eating.

Scott Robertson
07-20-2008, 08:03 AM
That inspiration isn't lasting too long!

Derek Weaver
07-20-2008, 01:54 PM
Good job on eating. I would prefer to see somone who wants to put on weight take in too many cals and need to dial it back later.

That kind of eating takes serious effort... and is awesome.

Scott Robertson
07-21-2008, 06:29 AM
Well not even a week in and per the scales, it seems that I'm up 7 pounds already. I realize that weight fluctuates daily but usually I was always in a 1 pound range on any given day. My BF% seems to be about the same and the amount of muscle mass that the scale calculates is up about 3-4 pounds. Somehow I don't think that is representative of true muscle mass gain but rather excess calories on my body that the scale probably doesn't know where to classify.

I am now just under 174 pounds which is the heaviest I have been in over a year. Is there a more scientific way to calculate the amount of calories I should be eating or just play it by the feel of my growing gut.

Thanks

Allen Yeh
07-21-2008, 06:38 AM
I'd measure once a week, if you really want to see where you are gaining you can start doing weekly tape measurements as well.

Derek Weaver
07-21-2008, 01:45 PM
Good call on the tape meaures Allen.

I'd also go with this: Keep an eye on the poundages for your lifts. If they are still going up and you're not getting "fat" then you're good. If they're going up and you're getting a little chubby, you're probably still good. If they don't go up and you either get leaner or stay the same, you're not good.

Only worry that you're eating too much if you spawn a 3rd chin and develop your own orbit.

Scott Robertson
07-26-2008, 04:16 AM
Well just over one week into eating all of these calories and I am now measuring myself to try and get an idea of where the calories are going.

First 10 days

(per my Tanita scale)

I have gone from 165 to 175 pounds.
11.5 to 12.5% BF


I had just bought some new pants several weeks ago and was a loose 32. After measuring myself this morning, I seem to be a 34. The 32 pants still fit but are much more tight around the waist. I am also measuring chest and legs but don't have a reference point for those.

The good news is that my lifts are still going up.

I'm anxious to see where I'm at in another 10 days. I don't think my body can handle a 36 waist!

Dan Heaney
07-26-2008, 04:59 AM
Well just over one week into eating all of these calories and I am now measuring myself to try and get an idea of where the calories are going.

First 10 days

(per my Tanita scale)

I have gone from 165 to 175 pounds.
11.5 to 12.5% BF


I had just bought some new pants several weeks ago and was a loose 32. After measuring myself this morning, I seem to be a 34. The 32 pants still fit but are much more tight around the waist. I am also measuring chest and legs but don't have a reference point for those.

The good news is that my lifts are still going up.

I'm anxious to see where I'm at in another 10 days. I don't think my body can handle a 36 waist!

Don't you think 10lbs in 10 days is a bit much? If you numbers are correct you've gain 3lbs of fat already. I'd back the cals off a little and see where that takes you. Remember sooner or later you are going to want to take some of that fat back off.

Allen Yeh
07-26-2008, 08:15 AM
I agree with what Dan said.

Dave Van Skike
07-26-2008, 03:15 PM
Well just over one week into eating all of these calories and I am now measuring myself to try and get an idea of where the calories are going.

First 10 days

(per my Tanita scale)

I have gone from 165 to 175 pounds.
11.5 to 12.5% BF


I had just bought some new pants several weeks ago and was a loose 32. After measuring myself this morning, I seem to be a 34. The 32 pants still fit but are much more tight around the waist. I am also measuring chest and legs but don't have a reference point for those.

The good news is that my lifts are still going up.

I'm anxious to see where I'm at in another 10 days. I don't think my body can handle a 36 waist!

Paraphrasing Rippatoe....

nyone who's under 18% body fat and sill worried about it is concerned more with aesthetics than performance...not that there's anything wrong with that...

focus on the lifting, track the eating and don't worry about the rest

Derek Weaver
07-26-2008, 04:19 PM
I'm with Dave... and Dan and Allen.

Back the cals off bit a touch. 3 lbs. of fat in 10 days is pretty hardcore.

Of course, if your progress stops then fat city is where you're going to need to be.