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Thread: Strength vs Hypertrophy (bodybuilding) for fat loss page

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    en2ec's Avatar
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    Strength vs Hypertrophy (bodybuilding) for fat loss

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    I had to have a "coaching" session as part of my contract at the gym I belong to. I've been going for 2.5 months, and I've been doing Starting Strength for about 6 weeks.

    The trainer I met with yesterday thinks that I should focus exclusively on hypertrophy for fat loss because according to him 1) it builds muscle mass faster, which means that more muscle consumes more calories and 2) interval training for hypertrophy also burns more fat while doing it than strength training. He also recommended periodization. Basically 4 - 6 weeks of hypertrophy first, then 4 - 6 weeks of strength, then a week off. Then repeat. By the way, another trainer at the gym, who has given me some tips on lifting form, also said that I should be doing lighter weights at higher volume. They've both said that what I'm doing isn't bad, but not as effective for fat loss.

    This advice contradicts the Starting Strength and Stronglifts communities, which say that all you need to do is strength. Now I'm conflicted. Do I focus on strength (I certainly have some hypertrophy from my strength training) or do I focus on building mass? My primary goal is fat loss, so I don't really care whether I'm a little stronger or have a little bigger muscles.

    A lot of people in the paleo and primal communities do SL or SS. Obviously, people have great results with strength training, but would they have had even better results with hypertrophy?

    Any thoughts?

    By the way, the trainer eats primal, even though he hadn't heard of the name primal or paleo (I'm in Vienna, Austria, so maybe it is called something else here).

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    IMO, go for strength. you'll still have the muscle, it will just be more dense. putting that much stress on the muscles is going to require a lot of fuel for recovery, so you can count on your body using its fat stores for that.
    on top of that, if you start with focusing on strength then switch to hypertrophy, you'll be able to use heavier weights when that switch comes.

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    CE402's Avatar
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    SS will only last so long before you can no longer progress in a liniar fashion. It would behoove you to max out these easy gains as long as possible. After you stall, deload, and have to reset 3x at the same weight then maybe look into changing it up.

    It's bro science, btw, that muscle burns more calories at rest than fat. However, being strong as shit will allow you to work harder at conditioning drills and what not.

    If you want to shed body fat, look into a bulk/cut cycle? Max out your LP on SS, it won't last more than 10-14 months at the most, then start periodizing your training. 4 weeks of strength, week off, 4 weeks of conditioning, week off, 4 weeks of mobility? I think Robb Wolf covered this in a podcast a while back. Something like ideal way to train to be Batman or something...

    Found it- episode 116.
    Last edited by CE402; 06-06-2012 at 06:26 AM.

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    First thing is first, I tell all my clients this, PICK YOU GOAL, it's hard as shit to build muscle, lose fat, play black jack, ride a dragon, lean mma, all at once as most people want. So, fat loss? awesome. Every aspect of your training should be towards that goal, hypertrophy is just more water and glycogen in the muscles ( hence the big look), they wont consume more calories like little eating machines inside your biceps. Now I believe most strength programs do need hyptertrophy in them as well as strength, ( read Jim Wendlers 5/3/1) but since your goal is fat loss, as is mine, while keeping primal etc etc here is an example of what I do and i have had success from it.

    First off I fast everyday, and have an 8 hour eating window ( courtesy of leangains) I always work out fasted with BCAA's in my system. I do two days of heavy lifting, compound exercises and then accessory lifts, so Monday is: Bench, Dead, Rows, Dips, Prowler or Hills. So for you, try this for a MONTH and tell me if you lose fat, if you are up to it. Train twice a week, doing two big lifts on that day, I like Bench Dead day one, and Squat, overhead press on day two, followed by two exercises to support the big lifts, bent over rows, dips, pull ups, good mornings, hamstring curls. Now, on top of this, 3 days of conditioning, hill sprints, sprints, on non-consecutive days, I throw my conditioning in after my workouts, and on one off day, every other off day I'm walking around the park for an hour and a half, roughly 3.5 miles. ALSO, cut out all fruit and starchy carbs ( potatoes etc) yes ALL FRUIT. Only allow yourself some fruit or potato after your two lifting days, After I squat and dead I eat a sweet potato and blackberries, cavemen didn't have fruit year round, you will be fine. Good luck.

  5. #5
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    Would you rather LOOK strong, or BE strong?
    SW (1/4/12): 326 lbs. (48% BF)
    Steak and Eggs SW (5/11/13): 198 lbs.
    CW (6/2/13): 185.4 lbs. (??% BF)
    GW: 185 lbs. (~15% BF)
    0.4 lbs. to go, ??% BF to go

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    The lighter-weight, more-rep myth is what these typically non-experienced builders at these gyms are told in their training sessions. It is a myth, with no evidence to support it. Intense is the only real option for building mass and losing weight.

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    Strength training will build muscle, just at a slower rate since it tends to be myofibrillar hypertrophy (AKA protein hypertrophy) whereas "hypertrophy" training causes sarcoplasmic hypertrophy which is just more fluid in the muscle. Strength training also increases testosterone whereas traditional hypertrophy training tends to increase growth hormone (by releasing lactic acid).
    I've found that the best way to build muscle is to do a big lift for strength (bench, squat, deadlift, overhead press, pull up) and then do some hypertrophy work. This is very similar to 5/3/1. For fat loss, I add in metabolic work at the end of the session (circuit training, sprints, weighted sled pulls/pushes, farmers walks).

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    First, the whole muscle burns "more" calories is highly exaggerated. Second, the exercises you are doing are going to have marginal effects on fat loss compared to diet. Weight lifting in general doesn't burn that many calories and neither does cardio. If your goal is fat loss, diet is the most important. You are going to have to create a deficit by reducing calories. Strengh training helps to preserve lean mass while in a caloric deficit.

    When in fat loss mode, you shouldn't be too concerned about increasing weight/getting stronger as you should be concerned with maintaining current strength levels. Although, strength will usually increase (albeit slower) as long as you aren't creating a huge deficit.

    I always focus on strength (although I use periodization to break through plateaus). I just adjust expectations based on whether I'm trying to gain (eating more) or lose weight (eating less).

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    Quote Originally Posted by Jiigigaw View Post
    The lighter-weight, more-rep myth is what these typically non-experienced builders at these gyms are told in their training sessions.
    Yes, the idea that higher reps "tone" your muscles is indeed a ridiculous myth straight out of the esteemed college of bro-science. However, worth noting is a recent study summarized here which shows a statistically significant increase in 1RM over a six week period by doing 4 or 8 sets over 1 or 2. Summarized nicely here: Which is Better for Increasing Strength: 1, 4 or 8 Sets Per Exercise? | AnthonyColpo

    Quote Originally Posted by Jiigigaw View Post
    Intense is the only real option for building mass and losing weight.
    For building mass, yes, but not losing weight. You could lift harder than ronnie coleman for a year and you won't lose an ounce of body fat if you are eating at your maintenance, though this will increase obviously as you gain mass. The only thing which determines fat loss is whether or not you're eating below your caloric energy requirements. You should really only be focusing on one goal at a time, as wolfman says.

  10. #10
    js290's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by en2ec View Post
    I had to have a "coaching" session as part of my contract at the gym I belong to. I've been going for 2.5 months, and I've been doing Starting Strength for about 6 weeks.

    The trainer I met with yesterday thinks that I should focus exclusively on hypertrophy for fat loss because according to him 1) it builds muscle mass faster, which means that more muscle consumes more calories and 2) interval training for hypertrophy also burns more fat while doing it than strength training. He also recommended periodization. Basically 4 - 6 weeks of hypertrophy first, then 4 - 6 weeks of strength, then a week off. Then repeat. By the way, another trainer at the gym, who has given me some tips on lifting form, also said that I should be doing lighter weights at higher volume. They've both said that what I'm doing isn't bad, but not as effective for fat loss.

    This advice contradicts the Starting Strength and Stronglifts communities, which say that all you need to do is strength. Now I'm conflicted. Do I focus on strength (I certainly have some hypertrophy from my strength training) or do I focus on building mass? My primary goal is fat loss, so I don't really care whether I'm a little stronger or have a little bigger muscles.

    A lot of people in the paleo and primal communities do SL or SS. Obviously, people have great results with strength training, but would they have had even better results with hypertrophy?

    Any thoughts?

    By the way, the trainer eats primal, even though he hadn't heard of the name primal or paleo (I'm in Vienna, Austria, so maybe it is called something else here).
    BODY BY SCIENCE (VIDEO 5): THE SCIENCE OF FAT LOSS
    How Many Calories Does Muscle Really Burn? (and Why It’s Not About Calories Anyway) | Mark's Daily Apple
    Dr. Mercola Interviews Doug McGuff about High Intensity Exercise - YouTube

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