/ Muscle growth with calorie deficit

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Ben Sharp - on 21 Jun 2013
Just one to throw out to the physical sciency folks which has been nagging me. The bulkies always seem reasonably obsessed with eating loads of food with the argument that you can't gain muscle/strength without having a calorie excess (followed by the slimming back down and oiling up!).

Although I'm sure an excess helps I always find it hard to believe that it's essential, I've certainly lost visible fat and gained strength during the same period of time. I also remember reading "legionnaire" when I was younger and those guys were half starved to death and rake thin but still were able to do the whole action man thing. Royal Marines apparently find it impossible to consume more calories than they burn during training but clearly gain strength throughout. So what's the story, is it just optimal to eat more or is it close to impossible to make strength gains while not eating enough.

Ben
Milesy - on 21 Jun 2013
Strength and Size are not always the same thing. You can recruit muscle more muscle fibre without gaining masses of weight which is actually the sort of strength you see in rake thin climbers with grip strengh of a vice. On a calorie deficit your body will burn fat in order to fuel your muscle so it will work.
Ben Sharp - on 21 Jun 2013
In reply to Milesy:
> Strength and Size are not always the same thing. You can recruit muscle more muscle fibre without gaining masses of weight which is actually the sort of strength you see in rake thin climbers with grip strengh of a vice. On a calorie deficit your body will burn fat in order to fuel your muscle so it will work.

Yeah it's always ironic to see those wiry asian weight lifters lift the same weight as a body builder! But surely it's a different type of strength training as apposed to diet, the body builder will be lifting weights in sets and reps that will promote bulk growth, the wiry climber will be training in ways that will increase strength but not bulk.

Surely along with more muscle recruitment the individual muscle fibers will get stronger and presumably the fuel for that will have to come from fat, as you say. So if a body builder was training for bulk growth why couldn't their body use calories from fat for that?
Rob Naylor - on 21 Jun 2013
In reply to Ben Sharp:
> (In reply to Milesy)
>So if a body builder was training for bulk growth why couldn't their >body use calories from fat for that?

I'm sure it does. A few years ago I lost 3 stone in 6 months while training hard, or about 2lb a week. I also added muscle bulk and became much stronger and fitter.

I know there are situations where people on drastic diets who aren't getting much exercise tend to get to a situation where their bodies start to consume muscle in preference to fat, but if you're exercising well and not in an unsustainable massive calorie deficit, it can be done. Not sure you'd develop a body builder physique though....those body forms are generally achieved with chemical enhancements!
andic - on 22 Jun 2013
In reply to Ben Sharp:

I recently started strength training and have looked into this a bit but am not an expert.

The consensus seems to go like this: to get big muscles you have to stimulate growth with large volumes off resistance reps, low rest times and lots of time under tension. So body builders do a lot of work and need a lot of calories, but the muscles grow because they are "irritated" and actually the fibres swell with fluids as much as they grow/increase in number. Body builder do get stronger and lift heavy weights through progression as the body adapts but it is a secondary thing and not an effective way to get stronger.

To get strong the training parameters are the opposite to BBing; low reps at absolute gut busting capacity, long rests and quite low volume short time under tension. The athlete is training their nervous system as much as anything to deliver a strong enough signal to the muscles to complete the movement. Only once the CNS is developed enough to fully utilise the muscles will any further growth be required and these muscles will be much denser and stronger than a BBer's.

Or something like that.....?
andic - on 22 Jun 2013
In reply to andic:

So in a way BB use techniques to "trick" the body into responding in a particular way in much the same way as a fad dieter might.

Milesy - on 22 Jun 2013
Muscle grows in two ways.

Sarcoplasmic hypertrophy - This is what body builders do. It causes plasma to increase in the cells giving them size over strength.

Myofibrillar hypertrophy - This is what Powerlifters do. It causes contractile fibres to grow and strength which gives them strength without much size growth.

Both will happen, but you can favour one type to be more than the other.

When I train at the gym I train low reps, heavy weights, and long rests. I don't get masses of growth or pump in my muscles. I would hate that look anyway, but I am pretty strong and can squat and deadlift more than some of the big johnny bravo characters in my gym.

The biggest guys in my gym tend to actually not spend much time on big weights at all. They are normally always on those cable machines actually doing millions of reps.
David Riley - on 22 Jun 2013
In reply to Milesy:

What is the point of causing plasma to increase in the cells ? The body must do it for a reason ? Does that give increased stamina ?
Reps normally increase stamina. Your lifts mainly strength.
Milesy - on 22 Jun 2013
In reply to David Riley:

According to this:

http://cwx.prenhall.com/bookbind/pubbooks/martinidemo/chapter10/medialib/CH10/html/ch10_5_3.html

"As a result of repeated, exhaustive stimulation, muscle fibers develop more mitochondria, a higher concentration of glycolytic enzymes, and larger glycogen reserves. Such muscle fibers have more myofibrils than do muscles that are less used, and each myofibril contains more thick and thin filaments. The net effect is hypertrophy, or an enlargement of the stimulated muscle. The number of muscle fibers does not change significantly, but the muscle as a whole enlarges because each muscle fiber increases in diameter. Hypertrophy occurs in muscles that have been repeatedly stimulated to produce near-maximal tension. The intracellular changes that occur increase the amount of tension produced when these muscles contract. A champion weight lifter or bodybuilder is an excellent example of hypertrophied muscular development."
mark s - on 22 Jun 2013
In reply to Milesy:
> but I am pretty strong and can squat and deadlift more than some of the big johnny bravo characters in my gym.
>
>

how many kg?



on topic
its not that climbers are overly strong,its the fact my 2 year old weighs the same as them.power to weight is easy for 60 kg climbers

seems a lot of people think bb'ers are not strong,its a bit of a myth
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DI5bCcPQN1k



andic - on 22 Jun 2013
In reply to mark s:
> (In reply to Milesy)
> [...]
>
> how many kg?

I'm going to guess 160, and 180 for you

No one who know as we what they are talking about is saying BBers are weak, but the thread started with a pretty huge red herring.
nw - on 22 Jun 2013
In reply to mark s: Agreed, you can't get really jacked without being strong, certainly much stronger than your average Joe. It might not be the most efficient way to become stronger or more athletic but size and strength are tied together to some extent. And powerlifters do have big muscles, but they don't half kill themselves to get single digit bodyfat so they lose some of the 'wow factor'.
andic - on 22 Jun 2013
In reply to andic:

(DLing)
Milesy - on 22 Jun 2013
I weigh 80kg, deadlift 2x bodyweight and squat 1.5x bodyweight. These were always my targets and I pretty much just maintain my current levels as I am happy with my weight, size and shape for climbing and everything else.

I didnt say all BB'ers, just specifically the folk who train for size. This is not myth. This is observation from years in my gym. I dont doubt there are bodybuilders who train for strength as well but they are outweight in my observation by those who lift lighter - in relation to bodyweight I suppose maybe...
Milesy - on 22 Jun 2013
In reply to Milesy:

... in relation to say 100kg lads who arent deadlifting 200kg.
andic - on 22 Jun 2013
In reply to Milesy:

Bloody hell I'm good
mark s - on 22 Jun 2013
In reply to Milesy:
>
> I didnt say all BB'ers, just specifically the folk who train for size. This is not myth. This is observation from years in my gym. I dont doubt there are bodybuilders who train for strength as well but they are outweight in my observation by those who lift lighter - in relation to bodyweight I suppose maybe...

out of the lads at the my gym who you would say is an obvious lifter .they all deadlift more than 160k.
i know a fair few people who lift weights for size and i seriously doubt any climber could be classed as stronger than any of them.ive seen some crazy weights lifted by bb'ers.


you need to eat big to get big
i know its a cliche but people say it for a reason.
im restricted by the size i can get by the fact i just eat enough food,it bores the tits off me eating all the time,plus at one stage was spending a fortune on food.sod that off
Jim C - on 22 Jun 2013
In reply to Ben Sharp: I remember the best arm wrestler at school was a skinny bloke. He beat bigger bulkier opponents ( And I lost some money)

As I understand it to build big muscles you need to damage the muscle fibres, they then repair, and add on a few more fibres so that it can ope with the same weight next time.

If you keep damaging the muscle with bigger and bigger weights it will keep responding. Is that right?
nw - on 22 Jun 2013
In reply to Jim C: There's quite a bit of technique in arm wrestling. Someone who knows what they are doing can easily dominate a bigger stronger opponent who doesn't know the game.
Pulling John - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CzxqGq7-rJY is a good watch if you are interested in strength sports.
DancingOnRock - on 22 Jun 2013
In reply to Ben Sharp: I suspect that you need protein to grow muscles. It's pretty difficult to get pure protein and without vitamins and minerals it's not going to do you any good just eating chicken breasts and whey all day. So you have to eat lots in general, this leads to fat as well as muscle growth. Then when it comes to competition time you stop growing muscle and concentrate on losing the fat so you get definition.

I suspect... ;)

There's a limit to the amount of protein you can absorb anyway without it starting to damage your kidneys.
ads.ukclimbing.com
andic - on 22 Jun 2013
In reply to mark s:

I think a lot of people go to "lifestyle" gyms where DLing more than 100kg is pretty unusual, big fish small pond syndrome?

But the fact remains lifting for strength gains or for size have different parameters and PLers don't need the calories due to the parameters associated with their training. Are BBers weak? Compared to whom, and in what way, are they functional and do their bodies have the capacity for work?
andic - on 22 Jun 2013
In reply to mark s:
Anyway put me out of my misery I guessed milesy's DL was I right abt yours?
mark s - on 22 Jun 2013
In reply to andic: I've done 200 before.just started doing them again,reckon another month and I will beat that.
andic - on 22 Jun 2013
In reply to mark s:

Just going off BW you look about 90-95? in your profile.
ice.solo - on 22 Jun 2013
In reply to Ben Sharp:

you need to define strength here.

legionnaires etc dont really gain absolute strength during stressed phases, but they do gain efficiency due to upping their oxygen intake and as their weight drops their strength to weight ratio improves (to a degree, obviously it then plummets again). a lot of 'strength' is recruitment and efficiency. depending on the phase, they sometimes go into stressed phases on the back of strength and recuperation ones.
the classic legionnaire stuff is also on the back of minimal sleep, which is when muscle does much of its growing, reducing the mass the body can simply gain.

they are not gaining the same sort of strength as powerlifters and to an extent bodybuilders (who control their sleep as much as their diet), and who also have heavily periodized regimes (gaining, cutting, bulking etc).

if you want to gain strength as a priority (over body composition) then train, rest, recover and eat well at the carb/protein ratios best suited to whatever strength style your after. spend optimal time pulling/lifting around your 1RM.

if you want the legionnaire look, stick around your 5RM, add lots of cardio and 20RM stuff, eat just above your required intake and dont sleep too much.
Ben Sharp - on 23 Jun 2013
In reply to ice.solo: I should have guessed this was going to degenerate into a "body builders aren't strong"/training techniques thread! ice.solo seems to have things sussed.

Most increases in physical performance are going to need the body to repair itself with sleep and food to some extent. So it follows that sleeping and eating well will allow it to do that better than being deprived of those things.

I was really just interested in the extent to which the body can repair itself with a calorie deficit. Although I appreciate that other factors will increase performance (muscle recruitment, psychological factors) but the body must still be repairing itself to a degree and getting physically stronger. And if that is happening at a period that coincides with fat loss I assumed that the body's muscles could become physically stronger while not eating enough.

Maybe I should have used running as an example, or winter climbing/big walks. New runners are often cited as gaining muscle mass in their legs while still losing fat. I've also noticed on longer trips that despite a lack of sleep and enough/poor quality food you still end up performing better on day 5 than you did on day 3, although over such a short period that's maybe down to other factors.

I guess there's probably a lot of complicated stuff going on and there's no simple answer. Maybe if you eat a good diet but just not enough then the body uses the nutrients to rebuild and makes the rest up with excess fat?
andic - on 23 Jun 2013
In reply to Ben Sharp:

I think a lot of what you describe is just getting into the groove diet is less important than five day's practice.
Milesy - on 23 Jun 2013
In reply to Ben Sharp:
> (In reply to ice.solo) I should have guessed this was going to degenerate into a "body builders aren't strong"/training techniques thread!

Where exactly has this happened? I think you will find I say I have observed that many body builders in my gym CHOOSE to train on low weights and high reps. The biggest guy in my gym pretty much spends the full night on the cable machine. I wouldn't know what he squats or deadlifts, he might be strong but he just doesn't do them.

It is actual fact through that myofibrillar hypertrophy over sarcoplasmic hypertrophy promotes greater strength with less muscle mass.

.. and I dont doubt there are body builders who train for strength as well as size, but there are plenty including my mate who admits he doesnt care about strength. He only wants pump and definition.
nw - on 23 Jun 2013
In reply to ice.solo: Have to disagree here Ice. 5's are the basis of loads of programs designed to add *bulk* and strength (Starting Strength, StrongLifts,Texas Method of the top of my head). When I was in basic training we touched weights maybe two times, they are really not a big part of military fitness for most people. Therefore these things aren't going to give you a 'legionnaire look'. The standard skinny recruit look comes from a shit ton of cardio, calisthenics, assault courses and yomping.

As far as 1rm territory being good for increasing your strength, well there are so many different viewpoints, but personally I think this guy has it spot on:
http://www.jtsstrength.com/articles/2013/06/20/squatting-big/
Thegypsy - on 23 Jun 2013
In reply to Ben Sharp: Is your deit clean,Its protein that builds muscle and carbs that fuel it,so you should be supplementing your protein intake.I use to find it hard to over eat,so i would have a protein shake after all my normal meals.we use to cut carbs for a weight cut in the last week.Training was a nightmare on a carb cut,felt weak as a kitten.
Thegypsy - on 23 Jun 2013
In reply to Thegypsy: You want loads of water and figs or orange juice if your gonna hammer the protein or your arse will shut up shop. :)
Ben Sharp - on 23 Jun 2013
In reply to Thegypsy:
> (In reply to Ben Sharp) Is your deit clean...

God no, but then fyi it wasn't a training question, just a science one. I'm not quite the protein shake swigging gym hound type!
ice.solo - on 23 Jun 2013
In reply to nw:

fair enough. good point well put.

my thinking here was based on the legionnaire 'look' more than the actual regular military reality; ripped it all off with cardio and a cardio diet, but forcing a bit of bulk and functional strength with select 5RM sessions.

thats a good link. food for thought and upsets a lot of whats considered gospel in some circles.
nw - on 23 Jun 2013
In reply to ice.solo:
Ya, well anything based around a particular look is going to be v subjective isn't it. I'm a fan of the school of thought that says if you train hard for a physical purpose and enjoy yourself you'll probably end up looking alright anyway. Much more sustainable for me than training solely for appearance. Although big arms are fun and I have respect for bodybuilders' insane levels of discipline.

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