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Fluidity

Maximum Hypertrophy Vs Maximum Strength

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Fluidity

Hello everyone, I just wanted to ask about training for max strength versus training for max size. When it comes to training for max strength we all know about how 3-5 sets of 3-5 reps at heavy loads usually covers it, however based on what I've seen on the forum, I remember how Josh said somewhere that training your muscles everday 1-3 times a day with a couple of reps with your near max load will help train for absolute maximal strength. While on the other hand high sets (5-10) of 3 reps of your 6 rep max can usually give a good about of hypertrophy as well. I just want to know would the 3-5 reps of 3-5 sets be good enough to cover both?

Along with that another question I want to ask is TUT and its effect on hypertrophy. Here in this article by Poliquin http://www.charlespoliquin.com/Blog/tabid/130/EntryId/1567/Tip-436-Vary-Tempo-to-Gain-Muscle-Lose-Fat-Count-Tempo-to-Get-Results.aspx he mentions how higher TUT on 10 reps of a 90% 10 rep max gave the most hypertrophy. Now if TUT is done with a high load like 80 % of 5 rep max(headstand pushup for my example) , will doing it for over 30-50 seconds (the time frame for hypertrophy) give myofibrillar or sacroplasmic hyprtrophy? Will doing TUT work of 30-45 seconds with heavy loads produce more myofibrillar compared to 210 seconds of TUT with a lighter load(ex. 10 rep max)? I'm just curious what type of TUT work will maximize myofibrillar hypertrophy?

Finally I want to ask Josh, about hypertrophy regarding teens. I'm currently 16, at 5 '7 I'm around 157 or 159, I'm pretty low on body fat, and am trying to build a solid plan for future hypertrophy gains. Right now I transitioned to max strength with 3-5 reps to 3-5 sets and once I get back to mainly TUT training should I continue to do lightly loaded exercsies like pushups and squats for longgggg periods of TUT until failure or should I do things like HePSUP, one arm push ups, and weighted pistols with the 30-45 seconds window of hypertrophy? I just want to know what type of TUT training willbe the best for me. I understand that now I'm hitting a time where my body will gain the most mass so I am trying to take your advice as said in other threads and eat as if it was a chore.

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Parth Rajguru

I just want to know would the 3-5 reps of 3-5 sets be good enough to cover both?

I'm just curious what type of TUT work will maximize myofibrillar hypertrophy?

1. No. If you want to work both, alternate accumulation and intensification phases.

2. The general scheme for isometrics is:

1-20s = Strength, mainly neurological

20-40s = Strength + hypertrophy

40-60s = Endurance

Work on many sets of low reps with a high(er) percentage of 1 rep max than normally used. For example, instead of 3x12, work on 12x3. For hypertrophy with 3 rep sets, you need lots of volume(sets) and low rest periods. You can't use a 3RM for this, you should use a 6 or 7RM, which will allow the necessary volume. For examples of this, check out Pavel Tsatousline's "Bear Routine" from "Power to the People" or Nick Nilsson's "Muscle Explosion".

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Joshua Naterman

1. No. If you want to work both, alternate accumulation and intensification phases.

2. The general scheme for isometrics is:

1-20s = Strength, mainly neurological

20-40s = Strength + hypertrophy

40-60s = Endurance

Work on many sets of low reps with a high(er) percentage of 1 rep max than normally used. For example, instead of 3x12, work on 12x3. For hypertrophy with 3 rep sets, you need lots of volume(sets) and low rest periods. You can't use a 3RM for this, you should use a 6 or 7RM, which will allow the necessary volume. For examples of this, check out Pavel Tsatousline's "Bear Routine" from "Power to the People" or Nick Nilsson's "Muscle Explosion".

Regarding the isometrics, those times are only accurate if they represent your maximum ability. For example, if you hold a plank for 20 seconds but you are ABLE to hold it for 2 minutes you aren't going to get stronger because of this. For short holds to have much effect they have to be fairly difficult.

Because of the joint stresses involved, it's generally not recommended to try this with leverage work until you have solid straddles (perfect holds for 15s in a flat straddle).

High intensity isometrics can also be dangerous, especially when working with external loads. Unless you have spotters (please notice the plural) I do NOT recommend that anyone try externally loaded isometrics that they can only hold for 10-20 seconds.

As for hypertrophy, it is pretty much like this:

IF you want to grow, you need lots of volume. That will mean you work out less frequently, which of course will get in the way of skill progression.

For maximal growth, you'll want at least 3 sets per muscle group done to failure and perhaps up to 6.

If you cannot go to failure for whatever reason (form breaks down or it isn't safe to do so with the exercise) new data is suggesting that you will be best served with 8-10 sets per muscle group. This data technically is for strength gain, but experienced lifters don't get stronger neurologically in their lifts, it's almost all from new tissue. Therefore, more strength should mean more tissue.

Don't worry about sarcoplasmic hypertrophy, even at its highest sarcoplasmic is a small fraction of total new protein. Just train and eat for growth, and you will get what you want.

In addition to the programs mentioned, Poliquin's advanced GVT is good. It is just 10 sets of 3 reps with your 6 rep max, 1 minute rest between sets.

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Craig Mallett

I have never understood the current global lust for hypertrophy. If your practice is showing great increases in moving with ease and increased strength, you feel great, and have your mental issues under control, what does it matter what size you are?

In the gym I work at every second person is wanting to be "huge" and every ad on the TV is about how to have 40 gazillion protein shakes so you can be massive. I really don't understand it at all.

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Nic Branson

Just to add on the what Josh has said. I am not personally an advocate of failure. I do like to use 10-20sets of low reps with short rest when I need to build someone up. Exact set count varies based on several parameters.

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Nic Branson

I have never understood the current global lust for hypertrophy. If your practice is showing great increases in moving with ease and increased strength, you feel great, and have your mental issues under control, what does it matter what size you are?

In the gym I work at every second person is wanting to be "huge" and every ad on the TV is about how to have 40 gazillion protein shakes so you can be massive. I really don't understand it at all.

All depends on goals. If I have a strongman competitor or a lineman this is often a concern. I don't work with bodybuilders.

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AlexX

I have never understood the current global lust for hypertrophy. If your practice is showing great increases in moving with ease and increased strength, you feel great, and have your mental issues under control, what does it matter what size you are?

In the gym I work at every second person is wanting to be "huge" and every ad on the TV is about how to have 40 gazillion protein shakes so you can be massive. I really don't understand it at all.

Some people want a large physique others to run fast and jump high, or bench squat and deadlift the most, or clean and jerk the most or pick up all of the famous heavy stones or being able to throw heavy things very far or do an Iron cross on rings and a one arm handstand. I don't understand why some goals are considered to be "Greater" than others. In the eyes of an average Joe we are all oddballs.

As for your gym problem the solution is simple, find a new gym to work in. I worked at a powerlfiting gym and surprise surprise most peoples goals were to deadlifts, squat, and bench the most with the occasional bodybuilder thrown in.

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Craig Mallett

I understand that people want to get huge, I just don't understand *why*. Nic raised some decent points about linesman needing to be fridge sized, it serves a very good purpose for their needs, but even he doesn't work with bodybuilders. Being strong such as in Olympic lifting is useful. Running fast and jumping high also serves a useful purpose, allowing you to move more efficiently in your environment, and be at less risk of injury and disease, or compete effectively in a particular sport.

All of these goals I would classify as "useful". What I don't understand is how being large simply for aesthetic purposes is "useful", especially as a lot of people take it to the point of training it at the detriment to all other aspects of health and fitness. As I mentioned, if everything else is in order for whatever your needs are (being healthy or strong or being able to perform in your chosen activity, etc), then what should it matter what size you are or what you look like? It's just a mindset I don't understand. Nothing against it, just a lack of understanding on my behalf as to why it's so popular when it doesn't seem to do anything useful from my perspective.

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Joshua Naterman

Just to add on the what Josh has said. I am not personally an advocate of failure. I do like to use 10-20sets of low reps with short rest when I need to build someone up. Exact set count varies based on several parameters.

There are definitely advantages to higher volume without failure, especially in skill movements or with actual athletes, so I don't blame you. I generally restrict my failure sets to rotator cuff, wall handstands (only to failure once per week), and PE1 stuff.

I would definitely not advocate going to failure with any straight arm work :)

I like failure, something just feels good about it with certain movements, but it's certainly not the only way and I don't think there's any evidence that points to failure being better than lots of sets with low reps.

It's all about what you like to do, and what allows you to train properly for your chosen performance, I think.

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Joshua Naterman

Looking good attracts women. In general, ridiculous steroid freaks excluded, I have found that a large proportion of women prefer more heavily muscled men in the physical attraction department. So, I guess you could say it's functional for picking up women. Some peoples' lives revolve around this, which is crazy to me.

Of course there are a fair number of women who prefer lean, toned guys over people built like me but I think more than anything else it's the fact that when you look at a very muscular body there is an instinctive response in all of us to take this person more seriously. Something about how we are built psychologically makes us respect size. Of course we also respect ability, but you can't look at someone and know what they can do. You can only look at them and know what it LOOKS like they can do, and that's the main attraction to a lot of people.

Obviously they could also get the same body, or a better one in many cases, by training for the kinds of physical abilities that most of us here admire and strive to obtain, but it's not the only way and it's not usually the easiest way. People like easy.

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Craig Mallett

Thanks Josh, the second point is quite interesting, I wonder if there have been any studies done in regards to psychological responses to size?

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AlexX

I am not sure of any major studies but at my former school (Rutgers, major research University) a professor did a small study on being bigger (taller and more muscle mass) and the effects of those things on leadership roles/controlling situations. People were a lot more inclined to listen to a taller, bigger person than somebody who they perceived (muscular individuals usually look bigger than the same weight but fatter counterparts) as smaller. People are more likely to listen to somebody they perceive as bigger/stronger.

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Biren Patel

I was thinking something similar to AlexX.

A lot of times, wanting to be more muscular comes from wanting confidence and greater self-esteem. And confidence rubs off on other people. There is a certain way that confident people hold themselves that attracts respect and attention. And hypertrophy is just one of many ways to gain confidence.

At least in my case, and I can think of a couple of other people I know, hypertrophy is the path to greater self-esteem. Perhaps you may think of it as shallow, but it is what it is. You just become more comfortable with your body, and that's one less thing to worry about and one more thing to be proud of. I mean, I'm not saying this is a good thing. I definitely wish I didn't have to worry about how my calves look when I'm wearing shorts. But, we get entangled in our desires. And maybe one solution is to achieve that desire and finally just move past it - like a check mark on your life list.

Not everything has to be useful. Sometimes you paint because you want to, and sometimes, you sculpt an adonis belt for yourself just because you want to. Bodybuilding can be an art, and art can be done simply for its own sake. Art, like Rodin's Thinker or Eugene Sandow's body - those are just pleasing to look at. They would not be the same if Rodin sculpted an overweight man or if Eugene Sandow was emaciated.

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Craig Mallett

Lots of interesting points, thanks for the feedback guys!

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Joshua Naterman

I was thinking something similar to AlexX.

A lot of times, wanting to be more muscular comes from wanting confidence and greater self-esteem. And confidence rubs off on other people. There is a certain way that confident people hold themselves that attracts respect and attention. And hypertrophy is just one of many ways to gain confidence.

At least in my case, and I can think of a couple of other people I know, hypertrophy is the path to greater self-esteem. Perhaps you may think of it as shallow, but it is what it is. You just become more comfortable with your body, and that's one less thing to worry about and one more thing to be proud of. I mean, I'm not saying this is a good thing. I definitely wish I didn't have to worry about how my calves look when I'm wearing shorts. But, we get entangled in our desires. And maybe one solution is to achieve that desire and finally just move past it - like a check mark on your life list.

Not everything has to be useful. Sometimes you paint because you want to, and sometimes, you sculpt an adonis belt for yourself just because you want to. Bodybuilding can be an art, and art can be done simply for its own sake. Art, like Rodin's Thinker or Eugene Sandow's body - those are just pleasing to look at. They would not be the same if Rodin sculpted an overweight man or if Eugene Sandow was emaciated.

Nice.

I will say that what I noticed in myself for many years was that my self esteem was heavily based on how I looked and how strong I was, and a lot of that was due to the fact that I didn't understand my value as a person. As I have grown older and... well, perhaps not wiser but at least a little bit more experienced, I have found that virtually all of my self esteem now comes from what I have to give to others, and the fact that I have learned how to navigate life.

I think that physical training is an incredible self-improvement tool and a useful crutch while finding deeper, less transient sources of self-esteem, but if what you seen in the mirror is a huge part of your self esteem (meaning that your esteem directly correlates with your muscle size) then that is something of a warning sign that you have not learned your true worth yet and that this might be a good idea.

That's my opinion on the matter, at any rate :)

I always forget that I am big, it's kind of a pain to be my size because a simple glance becomes a menace to some people. I get judged more harshly for any display of offense or defensive emotional responses, which means that I have had to put a lot of effort over the years into changing how I react on a semiconscious level to the initial emotional responses of anger or irritation. It's amazing how a small eyebrow twitch can be meaningless when you're 160 lbs but a disciplinary problem when you're 225.

Just a little perspective from my side of the fence :) I like how I am, but when I think of myself I'm the guy that likes to help people get where they want to go in life. I'm the guy that still loves to play street fighter and runs around with water guns in the summer. I'm not the guy who can do front levers or punch through bricks, that stuff rarely crosses my mind unless I'm about to work out. When I was younger, it was different lol :)

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Erik Sjolin

I always forget that I am big, it's kind of a pain to be my size because a simple glance becomes a menace to some people. I get judged more harshly for any display of offense or defensive emotional responses, which means that I have had to put a lot of effort over the years into changing how I react on a semiconscious level to the initial emotional responses of anger or irritation. It's amazing how a small eyebrow twitch can be meaningless when you're 160 lbs but a disciplinary problem when you're 225.

Ha! Too true, too true. Being tall gives the same sort of response (aside from my height, I'm by no means a "big guy"), that people think you're more violent or off-kilter than the average guy. Like you said, all you can try to do is be known as "the guy that wants to help" rather than "the guy that wants to fight."

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Quick Start Test Smith

I like how I am, but when I think of myself I'm the guy that likes to help people get where they want to go in life. I'm the guy that still loves to play street fighter and runs around with water guns in the summer. I'm not the guy who can do front levers or punch through bricks, that stuff rarely crosses my mind unless I'm about to work out. When I was younger, it was different lol :)

Hmm... that's a nice bit of insight, Josh.

Being 19 years old and in college, I'm surrounded by macho guys who feel they have to prove their strong masculinity to everyone. Ironically, genuine masculinity is the opposite, so I refuse to get into the "who's a bigger man" competition or pretend to be so macho. Instead, I try to be the person who, rather than acting serious and macho about everything so as to convince everyone to take me seriously, is friendly, quick to laugh, and who tries to contribute to everyone's happiness.

It's because of this that kids are surprised that I'm so old (lol, only compared to them) and yet act so carefree. I don't know how other guys my age think of me,, but the fact that I'm so serious about select issues, train super hard and am the "scariest fighter" in the club, YET have a personal entourage of kids who follow me around everywhere because I'm known play spontaneous ninja, football, soccer, tennis, and always be in for a good time is something that I find value in. Not in being or looking scary, but being good in my own right and knowing that I contribute a lot to other people's lives. It makes me happy to make them happy :)

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Fluidity

Really great insights everyone!!! Yeah I agree with Josh, women tend to like more muscular and defined guys compared to skinny or average people. It really is a matter of psychology. Along with all of this building tissue is a big thing due to the fact that once you reach your limit on how much strength your muscles can acquire at your current mass and weight, you have gain more muscle mass to "increase your potential". This is where I believe TUT and high volume work with high sets comes in, and are very crucial to building you up to your highest genetic potential when to comes to strength, endurance, power, stability, etc.

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Andrew Long

t

Really great insights everyone!!! Yeah I agree with Josh, women tend to like more muscular and defined guys compared to skinny or average people. It really is a matter of psychology. Along with all of this building tissue is a big thing due to the fact that once you reach your limit on how much strength your muscles can acquire at your current mass and weight, you have gain more muscle mass to "increase your potential". This is where I believe TUT and high volume work with high sets comes in, and are very crucial to building you up to your highest genetic potential when to comes to strength, endurance, power, stability, etc.

I was always curious about having to build more muscle mass to increase potential strength simply because i know many rock climbers who have what seems like almost no muscle perform feats of strength that I can only dream of.... so what is the limit of strength when it comes to muscle size? is there a ratio of how much potential force output muscle can produce compared to size? it feels like for me i would be able to achieve a lot more still without much if any muscle increase.

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Beldor

I understand that people want to get huge, I just don't understand *why*. Nic raised some decent points about linesman needing to be fridge sized, it serves a very good purpose for their needs, but even he doesn't work with bodybuilders.

All of these goals I would classify as "useful". What I don't understand is how being large simply for aesthetic purposes is "useful",

Craig,

Two Things.

1. To your direct point: I agree that it is physiological in that at a point it serves a sexual function such as "Peacocking". Also, I think people like to take everything to it's extreme point. The fact that we can get bigger and more muscular means that someone will explore that avenue- also the increased production of testosterone probably helps stoke that fire.

2. An indirect point: I had tried searching everywhere for a study on the possibility of functional affects of Sarcoplasmic Hypertrophy aka "Hypertrophy" outside of pure aesthetics. Such an avenue of exploration would be more in line with being a fridge sized linebacker point that you made. I wanted to understand "Hypertrophy" (with gymnastics) and if it can somehow aide strength training. Although I found no study, I did find a very interesting article by a Ph.D name Casey Butt who is prevalent in the physical training world.

http://www.weightrainer.net/training/growth2.html

Quick Summary: There exists a weight training state called "Irrational Hypertrophy" where the number of existing muscle fibers cannot contract to their full strength potential because the nearby sarcoplasm is in deficit and cannot meet the energy demands before the energy stores become depleted.

My take: If you are at a strength plateau, It may help to isolate muscles that do not have the appropriate balance of Sacroplasmic Hypertrophic growth as compared to the Myofibril Hyperstophic growth. In layman terms, if you are not getting any stronger after 8-12 week SSC's (Steady-State-Cycles) and you are visibly "too small" in one particular muscular area. It may help to supplement with Hypertrophy training. This assumes that you are doing the SSC's correctly. And even then, the way SSC's are designed it should take you through the entire range of growth--> all the way to the endurance stages, which encourage bloodflow and recovery toward the later weeks before moving on to the next progression. However, there may still be the possibility that for example "your biceps are simply too small" and you could be in a state of irrational hypertrophy.

Typical recommendations include 75-85% of 1RM which generally lands you in the multiple sets(science suggests 3-8 sets) of 6-8 reps.

Ausswe,

No luck on any specifics as to relative strength limitations and ratios between the strength and growth.

That would be super interesting to know. And if it varies greatly from person to person, it would be great to know what those variables are.

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AlexX

t

I was always curious about having to build more muscle mass to increase potential strength simply because i know many rock climbers who have what seems like almost no muscle perform feats of strength that I can only dream of.... so what is the limit of strength when it comes to muscle size? is there a ratio of how much potential force output muscle can produce compared to size? it feels like for me i would be able to achieve a lot more still without much if any muscle increase.

Climbing is a lot of skill with strength just like swimming, sprinting and throwing. Yes being strong and muscular helps in those sports but skill is #1. This is why you can see very average looking people do what seems to be super human especially considering their unimpressive physiques. There are top sprinters that look only a bit better than cross country champions and lift no weights, swimmers with national best times that just look like the average guy, throwers that you'd be surprised could make it up a flight of stairs never mind spin with skill in a circle with a weight and through it further that you would think was possible. A person's physique is rarely a good indicator of their skill in a sport.

Of course I've also seen climbers that were more built than a college ring specialist, swimmers that looked like light heavyweight powerlifters and throwers that looked ready to compete in a body building show. All of these guys were at the top of their sports.

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Craig Mallett

Beldor,

Interesting, thanks for the links! As to peacocking, I guess from my perspective I see that absolutely zero correlation between guys who are huge and guys who get loads of women, it's more about social confidence and ability to maintain, create (and often manipulate) social situations from what I've seen and experienced. I know fat guys (140kg +) who clean up with the ladies, same with skinny weedy guys and sure there are some well muscled guys in amongst them too, but its not the defining characteristic. It's generally a mental/social issue (lack of confidence and a few other things) that needs to be addressed rather than a physical size issue. Josh's explanation and personal experiences in regards to this seems to correlate with my understanding!

Same with addressing strength, there are far better ways to address strength deficiencies rather than simply pursuing hypertrophy (eg; powerlifting, GST, olympic lifting, kettlebells, etc etc). Generally a lot of these techniques tend to have hypertrophy as a by product anyway, and also tend to involve a lot of neuromuscular coordination and stimulation that exercises aimed at hypertrophy don't address. From my point of view, if you are training and eating properly and your body needs to grow to accommodate, then it will. Genetics will also play a role and sometimes people are ectomorphs and won't ever get huge. Does it matter? Not in the slightest. They can still be just as extraordinarily strong, confident and good at picking up as the next guy.

Hypertrophy does have its uses in places (as you've mentioned in your second point), but this would be to accommodate the specific goal; in the case you mentioned, getting strong, or as Nic mentioned being a successful linesman.

I also like your point that "if it can be done people will try and do it just cos". Very true and awesome! B)

Craig,

Two Things.

1. To your direct point: I agree that it is physiological in that at a point it serves a sexual function such as "Peacocking". Also, I think people like to take everything to it's extreme point. The fact that we can get bigger and more muscular means that someone will explore that avenue- also the increased production of testosterone probably helps stoke that fire.

2. An indirect point: I had tried searching everywhere for a study on the possibility of functional affects of Sarcoplasmic Hypertrophy aka "Hypertrophy" outside of pure aesthetics. Such an avenue of exploration would be more in line with being a fridge sized linebacker point that you made. I wanted to understand "Hypertrophy" (with gymnastics) and if it can somehow aide strength training. Although I found no study, I did find a very interesting article by a Ph.D name Casey Butt who is prevalent in the physical training world.

http://www.weightrainer.net/training/growth2.html

Quick Summary: There exists a weight training state called "Irrational Hypertrophy" where the number of existing muscle fibers cannot contract to their full strength potential because the nearby sarcoplasm is in deficit and cannot meet the energy demands before the energy stores become depleted.

My take: If you are at a strength plateau, It may help to isolate muscles that do not have the appropriate balance of Sacroplasmic Hypertrophic growth as compared to the Myofibril Hyperstophic growth. In layman terms, if you are not getting any stronger after 8-12 week SSC's (Steady-State-Cycles) and you are visibly "too small" in one particular muscular area. It may help to supplement with Hypertrophy training. This assumes that you are doing the SSC's correctly. And even then, the way SSC's are designed it should take you through the entire range of growth--> all the way to the endurance stages, which encourage bloodflow and recovery toward the later weeks before moving on to the next progression. However, there may still be the possibility that for example "your biceps are simply too small" and you could be in a state of irrational hypertrophy.

Typical recommendations include 75-85% of 1RM which generally lands you in the multiple sets(science suggests 3-8 sets) of 6-8 reps.

Ausswe,

No luck on any specifics as to relative strength limitations and ratios between the strength and growth.

That would be super interesting to know. And if it varies greatly from person to person, it would be great to know what those variables are.

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Andrew Long

Skill is of course an important factor but I still know the kind of strength it takes to climb I mean I've seen people do a one armed pull up while holding a pinch grip hanging from the ceiling they were about 5' 10 and looked like tht had next to no muscle probably sitting on around 10-12% body fat from looks. That's why it would be interesting to know if there has been any studies done on strength to size ratio potential of muscle

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Rik de Kort

There have. It turns out that muscle force (NOT THE SAME as joint force since there is leverage and tendon properties involved in that) is pretty closely related to PCSA (Physiologic Cross Sectional Area), which includes the thickness of a muscle (cross sectional area, how big a muscle is), but also how the muscle fibers are aligned in the muscle. If they are at an angle to the axis of force, fiber contraction will produce less functional force than when they aren't at an angle. So muscle size doesn't tell the whole story, even when you look to the most basic relations (PCSA).

And then there is like rate coding, motor unit recruitment, or motor unit type that can drastically alter force production, not to mention how force production changes during the contraction itself. And if you think you finally have all the properties to determine muscle force output, you still have nothing because the force has to be expressed at the joint, so leverage and muscle attachments come into play, which then hugely affect the amount of torque at the joint. Oh, and muscles can work synergistically, so you need to do this for all muscles in that particular area.

In short, there is a bunch of crap that involves torque production at the joint so it's kind of hard to predict. You simply cannot infer strength from looks.

*Looks over to Josh* That about right?

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AlexX

Skill is of course an important factor but I still know the kind of strength it takes to climb I mean I've seen people do a one armed pull up while holding a pinch grip hanging from the ceiling they were about 5' 10 and looked like tht had next to no muscle probably sitting on around 10-12% body fat from looks. That's why it would be interesting to know if there has been any studies done on strength to size ratio potential of muscle

Rik's answer is good in terms of what has been done from the academic side of this. There was also an anecdotal "chart" done by some Olympic Weightlifting coach who basically took a bunch of Weightlifters weights with how much they were lifting for their bodyweight (I'll post it if I find it). As body weight increased from the lowest weight classes in Olympic lifters so did the amount of weight lifted per pound of body weight. This kept increasing until 170-180 lbs. where it began to decrease again. So the greatest amount of weight lifted, pound for pound, was in the 170-180 weight class.

There is also a lot of other anecdotal evidence that supports the idea that 170-180 is where the largest strength (once again pound for pound) is for the average person. On average most top sprinters are around 180 lbs. When gymnasts were 5''7-5'8 quite a few of them weighed between 170-180 lbs. John Gill was 180 lbs.

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