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Strength, Hypertrophy and Endurance.

Discussion in 'Weight Training/Bulking' started by robbinhoodX91, Jan 5, 2009.

  1. robbinhoodX91

    robbinhoodX91 Active Member

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    Hello everyone! I'm new here. I registered because I have a few questions and I can't find any answers online. I figured I need to actually talk to people now. Oh noes! :ohnoes:

    First, a bit about myself. I'm very into flipping, tricking, climbing and things like that. Because of that, I train for strength, not hypertrophy. That's the worst thing in my opinion. I give huge props to you guys out there who can go bench 4, 5 even 600 lbs several times and make it look easy. That's just not functional strength for my hobbies.

    I've only been seriously weightlifting and studying this stuff for a few months now and, despite my great progress in those months, I just simply don't have the experience some of you veteran lifters out there do. That's why I need your help.

    My workout routine was basically a 5x5 setup, not counting the easy reps I did to warm up. I usually worked with 90% or so of my 1RM, just so I could finish the set with good form. If I lost form, I always lowered the weight.

    This plan has given me nice increases in strength but I've noticed a bit of hypertrophy. I've gained 5 lbs in the last two months which I know isn't that bad, but that's not what I wanted.

    My goal, more or less, is to have Bruce Lee's body. I know there is a way to train that will yield huge increases in strength while keeping the muscles as small as possible. He was proof of that. I have two ideas to help get me there.

    My first idea is that my strength training routine is too intense. It tears the muscles and makes them sore instead of just straining them and making them tired. Therefore, I'm considering raising the weight to 95-100% of my 1RM and doing 5 sets of 1, maybe 2 reps. Hopefully, this will be enough to strain my muscles but not to tear them.

    My second idea is to incorporate a lot of endurance into my routine. I used to work on it a lot, but for the past few months I've let it slide. I always worked out, even when tired or sore, but I never got more muscular. Endurance work may be what kept it in check. I was going to continue to work strength at 5x5, sometimes changing it around to avoid a plateau, and for the next few days, as I recover from it, work endurance. Lightly, mind you. I don't want to feel the burn on top of an aching muscle. :p

    As for slimming down the muscles I have, I know a way, but I don't like it. I would perform cardio and endurance training while my body is undernourished, particularly of protein. My muscles would then turn in on themselves and use themselves as fuel, thus making them smaller. This, however, SHOULD result in a loss of strength. That's not what I want.

    I was wondering what you people here would suggest. I want to make my muscles smaller/more compact while maintaining, possibly even gaining strength. Also, I'd love to know what you think about my two ideas above. Would lowering my intensity a bit and working endurance much more help prevent hypertrophy while allowing muscles to get stronger?

    Thank you all so much for reading my long post. I'll try to keep future ones down to a million characters or less.

    Thanks again!
     
  2. artizzztik

    artizzztik Active Member

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    Hmm. This one is tricky. I just have some brief points.

    1) The easiest way to have Bruce Lee's body is to... BE BRUCE LEE! But since you can't do that, you'll have to be stuck with yours. Your body will have its own unique character, so why not try to see where you can take it, rather than trying to fit it into some arbitrary category?

    2) In what way does hypertrophy not work for your chosen hobbies? Do you mean that you don't want to have to lug more weight around? Are you worried about being muscle-bound? To get into that category, really and truly, you'd have to pack on a hell of a lot of hypertrophy, the kind that the vast majority of people don't stumble on by accident.

    3) Lifting only 5x5s is going to burn you out in the long run. As is lifting only 5x1s, or 2x25s. Your body will benefit most from variety!

    4) I'll bet you a hundred bucks you could gain 20 pounds of sheer muscle and still be able to do all the things you do now. And my guess is you won't look too shabby either.

    And also 5) I may want to look like Brad Pitt in Fight Club, but hey, if I'm breaking a record every time I'm at the gym, then I'm doing the best with what I have.

    okay - maybe these weren't such brief points. :confused:
     
  3. robbinhoodX91

    robbinhoodX91 Active Member

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    By having Bruce Lee's body, I mean I want to have small muscles. I want to be as light as possible while being as strong as possible. Sorry for not clarifying.

    Hypertrophy is just going to add weight to me and make things, mostly climbing, harder. I just don't want it and I know I don't have to have it. I'm just trying to find out how.

    I know keeping the same routine will burn me out eventually. I'm beginning to change things, don't worry.

    I don't want to gain muscle. As I said above, it's only going to make my hobbies harder. And I don't think I want any more muscle anyway. I'm about 5' 11", 155 lbs with about 8% body fat. I look good and muscular as I am. I don't care for the big look.

    I too plan to break records, but not by simply strength training and allowing myself to get bigger. We have a karate instructor at my gym who weighs about 145 lbs and benches over 450. I want to be like him. Remarkably strong, especially for how small he is.

    Thanks for your help, though. :)
     
  4. Gance

    Gance Active Member

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    Others will be able to narrow down and give you a better more detailed answer on mechanics; however, I think you should really consider what the above poster said about just being yourself. Might sound cliche, but if you want to be strong, then focus on that not how you look. I can almost promise you that Bruce Lee wasn't obsessing on how big each muscle looked and if it looked too big. If you want to focus on strength, then that means you will need to focus on that specifically and not worry about muscle growth (which will come naturally with time).

    Another issue is you may have more body fat on you than you think you do. Cutting down the bodyfat (NOT THE MUSCLE!!!) will reduce how bulky you are in general as well.

    Honestly, I get the sense you are going on some very misguided ideas here and doing all the wrong things to get what you "think" you want that may not exist in reality.
     
  5. robbinhoodX91

    robbinhoodX91 Active Member

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    I don't JUST want to be strong, though. I want to be small as well. Bruce Lee was also concerned with hypertrophy because he knew you didn't have to be large and if you were, it would take extra effort to perform moves quickly. Wasted effort in his eyes. I just don't want to carry extra weight.

    I'll work on my body fat in the near future. For now, I want to get a firm grasp on how muscles respond to different types of training, particularly what will make them larger and smaller, stronger and weaker, faster and slower, etc..

    What I want exists. I want to have small, lightweight muscles but a lot of strength. Bruce Lee proved this existed and I don't believe one bit that he was special. That he had golden genes. That he was blessed by any god or devil. I believe he did his homework and worked hard.

    There are also a lot of rock climbers around these days that look like they have practically no muscle mass but can easily pull off several one-armed chin-ups with only two or three fingers. They are also proof that there is a way to be strong without being large.

    I'm not kidding myself into thinking I'll never have to put on muscle. I believe I will. Eventually. Not for a long time, though. I mean, Bruce Lee worked like a madman six days out of the week and he was still progressing. As great as he was, he hadn't reached the limit.
     
  6. JoeSchmo

    JoeSchmo Well-Known Member

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    Based on your first post, you might get some benefit from reading the stickies. This idea of trying to lose muscle by starvation and running, yet still managing to gain strength is a first class ticket to planet nowhere.

    It is a bit more complex than simply outlining how muscles respond to different training schemes. First, there are essentially infinite ways in which you can structure your training, and second, diet is as important as training in terms of defining your physiological response.

    If you want to gain strength without adding weight, simply train for strength while keeping your caloric intake at maintenance. You appear to be interested in performance as opposed to aesthetics, so you need to define what it is you would like to be able to do. Your specific strength training routine will depend ultimately on what your performance goals are.
     
  7. robbinhoodX91

    robbinhoodX91 Active Member

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    I know starving yourself and doing a lot of cardio will slim you down and kill your strength, thus leading you nowhere. That's why I'm still looking for an answer to my question. :P

    Thank you for responding to my questions. The other responses didn't really help. :)

    I do have a few questions about caloric intake, though.

    Say I trained for hypertrophy, resulting in soreness for the next day or so. Would limiting my caloric intake prevent me from gaining muscle size?

    The way I understand it, even if my body doesn't get what it needs, my muscles will be torn and will rebuild bigger. Since they can't rebuild as fast as they want, they'll take longer, but ultimately end up just as big. It's like making a hundred dollars. You can make it by 1's or by 20's. Either way will yield the same results, one will just take longer, thus, be more painful in the long run.

    Also, are there some diet recommendations for different results? If I want strength, eat more of this in your diet, if I want speed, eat more of this, endurance, this, etc.? I assume not (not that simply, at least) since all skeletal muscles need the same basic things to recover. Just curious, though.

    Thanks again. I feel like you're really going to be helping me out. :)
     
  8. chicanerous

    chicanerous Elite Member
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    Soreness is a necessary part of physical activity. It's not limited to weight-training or even any specific rep range or intensity. However, within weight-training, it's correlated with changes in a routine, which can be as simple as too great of a repeated stimulus. You should not train with the aim to reduce or stop soreness. If you are training progressively and effectively, you should see a reduction of soreness as you go through a routine, but it may never disappear completely and will recur more intensely when you make significant changes to your training or even diet or recovery methods.

    Developing localized muscular endurance through weight-training is a complete waste of time if your goal is to perform better in your chosen activities (tricking, etc. ). Instead, use the performance of the activities themselves to develop this quality.

    However, what is helpful is to develop cardiovascular endurance -- preferably through interval training as this best mimics the start/stop intensity of tricking, flipping, and (depending on how you perform it) climbing. On the other hand, steady state cardio is not a bad supplement for your general health, but it should be minimized, as it does not significantly benefit your activities.

    You're correct. You do not want to do this.

    You want to lose excess body fat and increase strength. The stronger you can make yourself, while minimizing a gain in bodyweight, the better you'll perform. The key is that, for each unit of bodyweight you gain, you need to get correspondingly stronger. This is not particularly hard to do with an effective training program. Like JoeSchmo said, keep your calories at maintenance or even just slightly below and train for strength.

    ---

    Are you a member of TricksTutorials? If so, have you read my Guide To Weight-Training For Tricking (located in the Training & Conditioning section)? It can help you with programming a routine for tricking, assuming you have some experience weight-training and are proficient in the basic exercises.

    There's a copy on this forum as well:

    http://forums.johnstonefitness.com/blog.php?b=27
    http://forums.johnstonefitness.com/blog.php?b=28
    http://forums.johnstonefitness.com/blog.php?b=29

    BTW, when you say climbing, what type are referring to -- rock, ice, tree, mountain? Is this your primary activity or is flipping and tricking? Which do you foresee in the future? Regardless, you should recognize that you may have chosen competing disciplines. Tricking as well as most sports from a purely physical stand-point are largely about leg, hip, and some back power, whereas climbing tends to be more upper body dominant. This is not to say that the legs don't have their purpose, but rather that your training will be much less leg-orientated. Consequently, you'll have to adjust your exercise selection and programming somewhat.
     
    #8 chicanerous, Jan 6, 2009
    Last edited: Jan 6, 2009
  9. robbinhoodX91

    robbinhoodX91 Active Member

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    In all my months of bodyweight strength training, I was often tired and weak the next day or so, but never so. My first few nights of weight training, I was also not sore. Only tired/weak.

    What I have gathered from this is that if you work your muscles just enough, enough times, enough weight, etc., you can render yourself tired and weak. It's like you've strained the muscles to their limits but you haven't actually damaged them. Because of this lack of damage, they cannot grow larger, but because of the strain, they know they must get stronger. They do this by reconfiguring the muscle fibers in the affected muscles so they work more efficiently. This results in more strength with no change in size. I believe this works because I exercised like this all summer and gained no muscle, no weight, nothing but strength and endurance. Please correct me if that's wrong, but be sure to explain thoroughly. I don't like it when things I've invested in are wrong. :lol:

    I know I need cardio, but there is also muscular endurance. Take climbing, for example. I want to be strong enough to hold my body weight up easily. However, I also want the muscular endurance to be able to climb, say, 200 ft horizontally without so much as my pulse increasing.

    Speaking of cardio, I'm going to start using it soon in two different ways. One way is what it's supposed to do. The other way, however, is to develop muscular endurance. Running and skipping rope at fast paces, for example, show how cardio can be much more useful than just working your heart and lungs. It can help you develop full body endurance as well. As for isolation endurance training, I think it may have SOME use, but in the big picture, I know it won't cut it. Thanks for pointing that out. :)

    Close. I don't want to lose excess body fat. I mean, I do, sure, eventually. That's simple though. My question is reducing the muscle itself. Say I had biceps that are 20 inches around. I want to slim them down to 15 inches around. Something like that.

    As for gaining weight eventually, I believe that, but I don't think that's required any time soon. :)

    And yes, my training is much less leg-oriented, but I don't neglect them. I give them just as much time as the upper and core.

    Thanks a lot. You were helpful as well. :)
     
  10. chicanerous

    chicanerous Elite Member
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    Muscle grows at a relatively slow rate. It takes a large caloric surplus, hard training, and many weeks to see significant increases. You can see and track any changes well before they are a problem. Moreover, if the calories and nutrients are not present in sufficient amounts (a surplus), at best, muscles cannot do more than repair the damage done to them during physical activity. This is undoubtedly the reason why you were able to work out all summer gaining strength without muscle mass.

    Also, just because you feel tired and weak the next day does not mean you haven't induced the potential for hypertrophy. More likely, it just means you've depleted your glycogen stores, are experiencing very low grade DOMS, or are operating under a caloric deficit.

    I have a bad habit of editing my posts for a while after submitting them. Some of what I wrote further in my last post addresses this. In both of your examples, weight-training is a tool to gain generalized muscle strength. For endurance, you should practice the activity itself.

    It's unrealistic to want to climb 200 ft horizontally without so much as your pulse increasing. This is not going to happen unless you move very slowly and the climb is rather easy. Instead, what you want is your pulse to elevate normally as you perform the climb and then experience a very short recovery period at its completion. This is a function of your cardiovascular conditioning, not muscular endurance. A short recovery period is what makes you feel "in shape" and as if you can catch your breath easily. Using interval training to increase your VO2 max as well as related methods to increase your lactate threshold will create this effect.

    Sprinting and speed climbs would be better forms of cardio for you than skipping rope. (As well as, of course, merely practicing your chosen activities.)

    Unfortunately, you can't spot reduce muscle or fat. The goal is to get strong enough that the weight of your body is trivial to manipulate.
     
    #10 chicanerous, Jan 6, 2009
    Last edited: Jan 6, 2009
  11. JoeSchmo

    JoeSchmo Well-Known Member

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    Excellent responses Chic! :nod:

    Energy is required in order to add additional tissue/mass to your body. Just like you need to eat more calories than you expend to add fat to your body, you also need to eat more calories than you expend to add muscle to your body. Eating at maintenance will prevent you from building much muscle mass .... so, you won't increment your way up into Arnold-hood. You can gain significant amounts of strength due to greater CNS activation without actually adding lots of muscle tissue. Some Olympic lifters look pretty much like ordinary folks, yet can throw up insane amounts of weight.
     
  12. chicanerous

    chicanerous Elite Member
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    Taner Sagir, for example. :whistle:



    :dreamy:
     
  13. goonie

    goonie Active Member

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    The muscle size variable you're looking for has MUCH more to do with your diet (and genetics). Already covered above.

    Don't go trying to solve unrealistic problems that will never exist. Do you have 20 inch biceps, and need to make them 15"? Didn't think so. :)

    How strong did you get with your 5x5 lifts? Some insight here should allow us to make better estimates on possible carryover from barbell work into your skill specific goals.

    A good deal of what you're talking about falls into a strength/power relative to bodyweight category from a strength and conditioning perspective. No point in making things anymore complicated than they need to be relative to your goals, and current ability.

    And can I come to your gym to see this 145 lb instructor bench 450 lbs? Was that raw? :confused:
     
    #13 goonie, Jan 6, 2009
    Last edited: Jan 6, 2009
  14. JoeSchmo

    JoeSchmo Well-Known Member

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    Excellent example -- A relatively small guy, but with friggin' superhuman strength :flex:
     
  15. robbinhoodX91

    robbinhoodX91 Active Member

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    So if the muscles don't get the things they need immediately, they'll only repair themselves back to where they were? How would this yield a strength increase, then? Utilizing fibers better?

    It's just been my experience that when I feel tired the next day, I gain strength and look no different. The only thing that happened all summer was that I lost some body fat and started looking more defined. My diet was pretty poor, though. Perhaps I was under nourished? The things I ate were high in calories since I lived off junk all summer, but do you think the lack of substance in those foods is what maintained my small size?

    I realize now what I wrote. It had nothing to do with muscular endurance. That was cardio. :p I'm sorry for the mix-up. What I meant was that I would like to do that without my muscles feeling it at all. And I realize this is somewhat unrealistic, it was just to give a simple example of having strength and muscular endurance. Sorry again. :p

    Skipping rope can be a good cardio work out. You just can't doing it at a leisurely pace. You need to constantly hear that whipping noise that means anything coming into your personal space at too slow of a speed is going to get diced. :)

    I know you can't spot reduce fat, but muscle, I'm not so sure. I mean, if I starved myself and did a ton of endurance with only bicep curls, that shouldn't cause as much loss, if any, to other muscles since they weren't being used. But then again, my logic was already wrong tonight. Maybe you'll correct me again? :) And please don't forget my other goal: to keep my body weight, fat AND muscle, down, so my weight is even easier to manipulate.

    So my theory was wrong? The muscle will only repair to it's previous state with enough of a deficit? The natural response to damage is to rebuild bigger... I just assumed the body would do this no matter how long it took. If it needed 5,000 calories to get there, it would wait 5 days if it had to to fully recover and get bigger. This is starting to make sense. Thank you so much! :)

    And that Taner Sagir guy. Wow. He is so average looking and then BOOM, his muscles explode and show what they can do. My goal is to be just about like him, only since I'll be lifting my body weight a lot, keep the body fat low. Not that he doesn't have a great physique.

    I was just giving a very simple, clear example. This is a great example of having a large muscle and wanting to make it smaller. Not trying to make problems here. :)

    It ranges. Some things like bicep curls have only gone up about 10-15 lbs, but things like the leg press have gone up over 400 lbs. Most of it's not that great, but it does make my other hobbies like jumping and climbing easier.

    Haha, if you want to. Seriously, though. His name is Kevin something. I don't know him personally. I just know he goes to our state competitions (Mississippi) and wins in his weight class a lot. He displays all his trophies and stuff. I'll try to get his last name for you if you'd like.

    And if I remember. :drool:
     
  16. JoeSchmo

    JoeSchmo Well-Known Member

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  17. robbinhoodX91

    robbinhoodX91 Active Member

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    I'm sorry. I guess it wasn't raw. I'll try to get his name for you guys.
     
  18. JoeSchmo

    JoeSchmo Well-Known Member

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    Yeah, I love seeing that kind of stuff. Good luck reaching your goals! :tucool:
     
  19. goonie

    goonie Active Member

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    Telling us what you gained without knowing where you started doesn't provide what we need, and curls and the leg press are mostly irrelevant to what I perceive as your end goals anyway.

    Bench
    Chinup
    Power Clean
    Squat
    Deadlift

    Just make sure you have a good base level of strength here. The further you are away from your genetic strength limit, the greater the immediate carryover to your skill realted should be.

    If you're recognizing physical and performance qualities in others who have 400 lb bench presses, and 375 snatches, then taking a page from their training, and translating it relative to your current condition and goals is something you should look into.

    No offense, but most of your talk about how/why to "tear muscles", shape them, compact them, damage them, contractile tissue, etc. is mostly silly rambling. If you have a need to diagnose and treat muscle related issues clincally, ok, there's obviously merit to going in depth here.

    As things stand right now, it just seems highly probable this only serves to get in the way of things from a discussion of what may help your training, making issues more complicated than they need to be right now. I know, you're going to tell me you like to understand everything because it helps you relax. :)

    And why the talk about "starving yourself"? I find it a bit interesting you use this as an example in your scenarios.

    If you starved yourself, obviously you'd lose "weight", right? And where do you think this "weight" would come from? It's not going to be just fat, and it doesn't have anything to do with whether you did curls or not.

    Ok, you got me, but you left out the part about the guy being a competitive powerlifter. Don't worry about the name. :)

    How old are you by the way?
     
    #19 goonie, Jan 6, 2009
    Last edited: Jan 6, 2009
  20. robbinhoodX91

    robbinhoodX91 Active Member

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    Thanks a lot. :)

    Curls help with chin-ups and leg pressing can help jumping and sprinting. They have some use and I don't feel like I should exclude them. :)

    Why do we have to get into this? I wanted to know how muscles can be slimmed without losing strength. I don't feel like I need a new routine. I do need to work more consistently on things, though. Sometimes I get tired of one thing or another and wander away from it.

    I agree. I've only started seriously lifting two months ago. I finally got my membership to the gym.

    I'm 19. Plenty of time, I know, but I want to maximize my efficiency. :)

    I hadn't thought of that. Maybe I'll talk to the guy at my gym if I catch him. I usually go around 10 pm or so when there aren't many people there. I can't stand all the meat heads in there throwing weights around with bad form and whatnot.

    Not so much relax. I just really like to know how what I'm doing works. I want to know what's going on, what's going to happen, what might go wrong and what to do in those cases. I love learning, but only about what I like. I had poor grades in school from laziness but here I am, all day, everyday, researching muscles and exercises, trying to get a better and better grasp on this whole training thing each day.

    Starving was just a way to say "get myself into a caloric deficit" without typing all that stuff. And curling was the exercise of choice since it's very easy to do isolated bicep work. I'm sure trying to slim muscles down with compound exercises would be a little more complicated.

    Well now I feel like I need to get his name. I feel crazy for bringing him up and not being able to give you guys anything about him. :spaz:
     

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