Hypertrophy vs Strength (can you be big AND very strong?)

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Tartovski
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Hypertrophy vs Strength (can you be big AND very strong?)

Post by Tartovski » Thu Feb 07, 2008 3:07 am

As I understand it classic weight training to promote muscle growth is 10 - 12 reps, and classic strength training is 4-6 reps (or lower).
AFAIK strength works more on the body "learning" to utilise more muscle fibres in a lift, rather than building mass ie it's a neural/CNS thing, more than a muscular thing. On the flip side, hypertrophy works by stimulating lots of muscle growth but doesn't mean all that muscle is going to make you much stronger.

My question is if that's the case could I train hypertrophy first to build up some muscle, and then train strength afterwards to make that extra mass functional for me? Or is it really a case of train strength for strength, and hypertrophy for hypertrophy and never the twain shall meet?


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Post by Ryan A » Thu Feb 07, 2008 3:49 am

Ummm, the whole point of periodization is to do exactly what you want. So yes, you can train for hypertrophy and then strength. You can also train them at the same time although best not to do it on the same day.

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Post by Tartovski » Thu Feb 07, 2008 4:26 am

Thanks for that. I thought that was the case, but wanted to double check. I just don't want to end up with "useless" muscle. Though obvioulsy looking good naked is a good goal to have. ;)

I've been doign strength stuff for awhile now, so I may swop to higher reps for a month or so, then go back to strength.

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Post by stuward » Thu Feb 07, 2008 6:49 am

The normal periodization cycle is to train for hypertrophy for a period first and then for strength, power and then sports specific skills. More than one of these can be trained at the same time using a Crossfit or Westside type approach, or simply mixing your reps withing a micro cycle.

A beginner will make most of his gains due to nueral adaptation but after that hypertrophy is the way to build strength as long as it's the right type of hypertrophy.

There are 2 types of hypertrophy. Functional, or myofibrial and non-functional, or sarcoplasmic.

Sarcoplasmic hypertrophy is a swelling of the fluids within the muscles and does nothing to contribute to strength. This is the "useless muscle" you are talking about. Bodybuilding routines focus on this because it has the greatest potential for size increase but it will not help you get stronger.

Myofibrial hypertrophy is growth in the number and size of the fibers in the muscles that actually provide strength. This type of hypertrophy is what you are looking for. This is what builds strength.

Todd Wilson wrote a good article on the Diesel Crew site: http://www.dieselcrew.com/articles/func ... trophy.pdf

Google can probably provide you with other examples but generally, mix up your reps but focus on the heavy weight and reps in the 1-6 range.

Stu

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Post by TimD » Thu Feb 07, 2008 8:10 am

Yes to all the above. A classic way of Anderson and Hepburn wa on their heayday, they would work a lift up to aheavy bu doable single, thenback the weight down somewhat and do several sets in the 4-8rep range, which did an overlap of strength and hypertrophy.
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Post by KPj » Thu Feb 07, 2008 8:15 am

Just thought I would add...

There are 3 main factors involved in building muscle - Time under tension, load / weight, and volume.

A rep range of 6-10 reps generally hits the perfect amount of 'time under tension' required for building muscle and is the reason it is so commonly recommended. It's the bread and butter of bodybuilding, really. But it's not the only way to do it.

You can't focus on all of the above factors at once, so it's probably best to utilise one, then when gains slow down, switch to another, and so on.

So, say you've done the '3 sets of 8' to death now, and you need to switch things up. You could simply just reverse those numbers to '8 sets of 3'.

Then, out of the 3 factors mentioned above, you do the following,

Time under tension - decreased as your only doing 3 reps and not 8

Volume - remains the same as the total reps completed are exactly the same

load / weight - increases significantly, because your doing 3 reps, not 8.

Whilst Time Under Tension decreases, load increases.

Doing lots of sets at low reps (8 x 3) is also a good way to strike a balance between strength and size, but as someone has already said, your best concentrating on one at a time.

For more info on a volume based approach, which is a great way to switch things up, very refreshing / exciting, check the link below on EDT Training,


Escalating Density Training by Charles Staley
http://www.t-nation.com/readTopic.do?id=459765


KPj

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Post by Matt Z » Thu Feb 07, 2008 4:00 pm

Keep in mind also that bodybuilders typically have a higher proportion of red muscle fibers (endurance fibers) than powerlifters and weightlifters. Consequently, bodybuilders are generally weaker in terms of 1RM strength, than weightlifters and powerlifters in the same weight class. However, they may outperform many strength atheletes in higher rep work. This point was illustrated in a squating contest held between Dr. Squat and Tom Platz.

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Post by Ironman » Thu Feb 07, 2008 4:32 pm

Chad Waterbury makes a lot of these hybrid strength/hypertrophy workouts. They work. I have recently found a way to tweak them that seems to make them work even better.

It is based around high frequency training and varied rep ranges. The core of it is doing low reps with short rest, and many sets. The volume with the short rest gives you hypertrophy despite the low reps. They heavy weights make you strong. So you might do 3 full body workouts a week. The first 2 you only hit everything at 1 angle. You do 6x3 with your 5 rep max. You alternate sets so you can rest only 60 seconds, but have at least 120 seconds before working the same muscles again. Then the way I tweak it, is go to failure on the last set. I decided to put that in because in the popular 5x5's people do will frequently have days where they do a max effort set. This seemed to maximize the effects of my Waterbury-like program.

So day 1 you do 4 exercises, a push and a pull, both horizontal, a lower body quad exercise and a gastroc thing (I go slightly higher reps and closer to failure, with gastrocs because of the fibers. And at least with mine if I can lift it once, chances are I can do it at least 4 times if not more, but if I go higher, I can't do it at all).

Day 2 you do vertical. one push and 1 pull. Then a lower body ham exercise. You also sprinkle in some isolation. Where I am doing 5x3 with 5RM plus 1 set to failure with the same weight on the compound stuff. Then the isolation is generaly 1x8 close to failure. I just throw in a very small amount of direct shoulder/arm/ab work.

The 3rd day is full body all angles. 3x6 with 8RM for horizontal push and pull as well as vertical push and pull. 6x10-12 close to failure on gastrocs. 2x4-5 a little short of failure on an inner thigh exercise. Then 2x6 on a quad and a ham exercise. I have found it might be better to do the quad/ham stuff as isolation on machines, depending on how your lower back is holding out. Sometimes people also overtrain legs if they do free weight again. It is individual, try doing all compound free weight if you can. The only thing you can't do, is the same exercise. That is almost certain to be too much for the lower body. So if you did back squat and Romanian deadlift the first 2 days. This time you might do front squat and straight leg goodmorning. Just be careful not to load the GM too heavy as you can easily get hurt going heavy on that.

Somehow I have managed to gain strength on that while dieting. I am just as strong as I was in the peak of my bulk. But I am considerably lighter now. I have dropped 12 pounds of fat, and 8 pounds of water weight (I retain a lot of water on my higher carb bulking diet).

So it is primarily a hypertrophy plan. But it gives a lot of strength gains for a hypertrophy plan. It has been great for retaining all my strength and muscle mass while losing fat.

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Post by caangelxox » Thu Feb 07, 2008 5:03 pm

are you guys saying train hypertrophy first, and then strength, and then power/speed?

{hijacking}

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Post by stuward » Thu Feb 07, 2008 5:19 pm

That order is the classic strength and power periodization cycle.

Depending on your sport this model may or may not be appropriate.

In my opinion non-linear periodization is better, especially for in-season athletes or for non-competitors.

Stu

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Post by caangelxox » Thu Feb 07, 2008 5:41 pm

{hijacking}

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Post by stuward » Thu Feb 07, 2008 6:18 pm

Softball and soccer are quite different.

Endurance is more important is soccer while power is more important in softball.

If you are doing both it's going to get complicated.

Here is an example of a baseball periodization program:
http://www.per-rehab.com/index.php?opti ... &Itemid=45

You will see that it progresses from hypertrophy and endurance toward strength and power along with skills training.

Soccer will require endurance training throughout. Here's is an example:
http://www.elitesoccerconditioning.com/ ... zation.htm

You will notice this article looks at the classic model but defers to a non-linear or conjugate system in the end.

If you are doing both you will need to use the conjugate method as you will have to maintain power and endurance throughout.

Stu

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Post by Stephen Johnson » Thu Feb 07, 2008 10:35 pm

Matt Z wrote:...a squating contest held between Dr. Squat and Tom Platz.
Dr. Squat vs the QuadFather!

I would pay money to see that!

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Post by Ironman » Fri Feb 08, 2008 6:41 am

Caangelxox, no hijacking threads. Make your own.

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Post by bbp » Sun Feb 10, 2008 4:40 am

to answer the question suggested in the title, i think that big tends to be strong anyway. most the big guys i see at the gym are the strong guys...i do see alot of small guys do some impressive stuff for their body weight, but i do think the general trend is that a big muscle is a strong muscle and vice versa.

sure bodybuilders and such won't lift as much as olympic lifters, powerlifters, or strong men, but they are still way stronger then your average run of the mill gym rat. plus i think alot of the stronger lifters in oly, pl, or strongman are pretty huge.


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