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Thread: Strength vs Hypertrophy (bodybuilding) for fat loss

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  1. #1
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    Strength vs Hypertrophy (bodybuilding) for fat loss

    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).

  2. #2
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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.

  3. #3
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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 07:26 AM.

  4. #4
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    Quote Originally Posted by CE402 View Post
    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.
    Thanks for the good advice. My original plan was to do SS until a plateau and then move on to something more advanced. So this helps me confirm that I was and am on the right track. Thanks also for the podcast reference. I'll listen as soon as I can.

  5. #5
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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.

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by wolfman View Post
    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.
    I've heard some references to 5/3/1 but haven't looked into it. I will now. Do you think I'd have better progress on 5/3/1 now than on SS? Or should I switch to 5/3/1 after I plateau?

    Today is my third day of IF following the leangains protocol. The first day was a struggle, but I hadn't eaten properly the previous evening. Yesterday worked brilliantly. Today is fine so far, but I have 3 hours before hitting the gym and 4 hours before I break the fast.

    I work out at the gym next to my office and go during lunch, so I can only do a fairly short workout. I'm not sure I could do everything you are recommending in a single workout. My schedule now is to lift M W F and to swim T Th. On my lifting days, I do some karate katas (I studied Uechi Ryu karate for 5 years) after I lift. These are the equivalent of my sprints -- they are very high intensity for 30 to 60 seconds with a short break, then I do another. I do between 4 and 6 of them. And on swim days I focus on swimming at a pace that I can keep going with only minimal breaks to catch a couple of breaths every few laps. I have asthma and have seen huge improvements in my breathing from swimming. I do it for that more than for burning fat, etc.

    I've significantly cut down on starches. I have berries with coconut milk for my dessert after dinner, but berries don't have a lot of carbs. A few times a week, I'll have a small portion of sweet potato. Otherwise, all my carbs are from low-carb vegetables.

    Since joining the gym 9 weeks ago, I've lost 17 pounds. Since starting paleo 11 days ago, I've lost 6 of those 17 pounds. I'm very pleased with the results. And I've been able to maintain my linear progression except for bench, which I think I started too heavy in the first place and will have to deload now.

  7. #7
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    I did stronglifts 5x5 for a while and definitely got stronger, the thing I like about 5/3/1 is that it has heavy singles in it, and it's not so much the weight that you are trying to get up but the reps, so lets say you bench 225 x1, you are feeling good that day and have a spotter and get out 2 reps, congratulations you got stronger! get 230 x1 3 weeks from now. As long as you are getting in your conditioning somehow that's all that matters, sounds like your carbs are in check too. I personally like 5/3/1 it really gets you to concentrate and kick ass on the big lifts. Sounds like you have everything in order though, keep going, keep fasting, as we get leaner it's harder to notice fat loss so stick with it, and read up on 5/3/1

  8. #8
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    Would you rather LOOK strong, or BE strong?
    "Don't waste your time, or time will waste you."

  9. #9
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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.

  10. #10
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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.

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