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Caloric Balance

Discussion in 'Fat Loss/Cutting' started by _Christopher_, Oct 26, 2004.

  1. _Christopher_

    _Christopher_ Well-Known Member

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    This article by Tom Venuto says the following two things...

    "It is a basic law of energy balance that you must be on a positive calorie balance diet to gain muscular bodyweight."

    Earlier in the article it also says...

    "You cannot override the laws of thermodynamics and energy balance. You must be in a calorie deficit to burn fat."

    How is it that I am losing weight and gaining strength in my weight lifting routine? I bench more than I did a month ago and I am 10 pounds lighter than a month ago. I believe, but not sure, that my biceps are larger as well.

    I assume that the first "law" about being in positive caloric balance to gain muscle is not a law at all, but rather a general rule. Am I right?
     
  2. Bluestreak

    Bluestreak Well-Known Member

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    People new to weight lifting have this wonderful gift; the body is adapting by building muscle and lysing fat. In time, you'll find that that ability will fade.
     
  3. Two Step

    Two Step Well-Known Member

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    Additionally,
    It might be worth noting that you can gain strenght without adding new muscle mass.
    Your existing muscles have certainly become stronger, but you have probably not really added much (if any) new muscle mass if your body has been in a caloric defecit.
    Your biceps may appear larger because there is less fat over the top of the muscle.

    Just a thought
     
  4. _Christopher_

    _Christopher_ Well-Known Member

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    How can you gain strength without adding muscle?
     
  5. JeremyLikness

    JeremyLikness Well-Known Member

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    Christopher, strength is a function of efficiency. Your muscle is composed of groups of innervated cells called motor units. Each motor unit can either fully contract or not contract at all. It is the combination of motor units that generates force. For example, 8 units contracting together at once will generate more force than 2 units contracting together at once. Your muscles are not 100% efficient and you never contract all motor units at once.

    Strength is called a neurological (rather than physiological) response because in general, you can gain strength simply by training your central nervous system to become more efficient at contracting more motor units simultaneously. This allows you to generate more force without more mass.

    It is a myth that strength and mass go hand in hand. They do not - they impact each other but not to the greater extent. Some of the strongest power-lifters in the world have smaller muscles than many bodybuilders, and some of the biggest bodybuilders have weak bench press and squats.

    It is true that gaining muscle requires a caloric surplus and losing fat requires a caloric deficit. People who just start out have an adaptive response and can gain muscle while losing the fat. After your first several months, however, you are pretty much in that mode.

    Most people who lose fat and gain muscle within a given period - for example, bodybuilders preparing for a competition - are doing it in waves, i.e. a few higher calorie days and a few lower calorie days, so they are in a surplus/deficit within smaller units of time. Even people who consume constant nutrition and pull this off tend to manipulate cardio and nutrition so if you look at a "window" of time, they are doing one or the other (surplus or deficit) but it averages to a net effect over time.

    Jeremy
     
  6. _Christopher_

    _Christopher_ Well-Known Member

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    Thanks Jeremy, that makes a lot of sense. Question...what IS mass then? I mean, a bodybuilder with a huge chest and a weak bench press...whats up with that?
     
  7. JeremyLikness

    JeremyLikness Well-Known Member

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    Mass is simply more muscle fiber, not necessarily the ability to use it. It does create leverage, which improves strength, but no so much as training FOR strength. This is why periodization is so important, i.e. not sticking to a single rep range, because when you add more muscle mass, it is a good decision to train in a way to train that new mass to function. :)

    Jeremy
     
  8. JMR

    JMR Well-Known Member

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    Chris, take a look at the lightweight lifters at the Olympics. You'll see guys and girls putting a lot more weight over their head than some huge bodybuilders will ever think about.
     
  9. _Christopher_

    _Christopher_ Well-Known Member

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    Interesting. So, if my goal is fat loss, then I should be training for muscle mass, not strength, necessarily, because I want more muscle fiber since it will burn calories just by existing...correct?

    Does this mean medium weights at about 8 reps then? (Instead of heavy weights for say, 4 reps?
     

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