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    heatseeker's Avatar
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    How fast can your body realistically get stronger?

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    Random thought floating through my head during my workout this morning: how fast can I get stronger? I ask that specifically, not just "when will I be strong"--literally, how soon will I see strength gains from a specific workout?

    For instance, this morning I did a lot of shoulder work: strict presses and push presses, among other things. This Friday I have a little mini-competition in which I'll be doing a lot of heavy jerks. Would it be silly to think that my workout this morning will have a positive effect on my abilities Friday (assuming I take adequate time to recover and eat to build muscle over the next four days)?

    Just wondering about the time relationship between X and Y, where X is a particular workout, and Y is a particular gain in strength.

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    Depends on your level of adaptation. Novices generally tend to be stronger 48-72 hours after a given workout, if the workout is properly programmed to elicit the adaptation. Intermediates tend to need about a week of correctly programmed exercises to cause a strength adaptation. Advanced or competitive lifters typically need anywhere from a few weeks to a few months to add strength.

    The best book I know of on this subject is Practical Programming by Rippetoe & Kilgore

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    So many factors, Recovery ( food, sleep, vitamins) stress factors ( work, whatever else), and the level of fitness your body has, but....you are tearing muscle, and draining your CNS, so how ever long that takes varies, but my belief is that it takes about two months....yes two months, when I say that though I don't mean, you lifted more and are stronger....because yes if you lift more than you once did you are stronger, but I consider myself stronger after a good amount of weeks and consistency, to where it isn't that I'm "pumped up" or "having a great day" in the gym, my body is literally stronger, where 225 ( for me which used to feel insanely heavy) is the last warm up before my work set and I don't even think about it as a challenge. Once your lifts are controlled and dominated....then you are stronger.

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    Quote Originally Posted by wolfman View Post
    my belief is that it takes about two months....yes two months, when I say that though I don't mean, you lifted more and are stronger....because yes if you lift more than you once did you are stronger, but I consider myself stronger after a good amount of weeks and consistency, to where it isn't that I'm "pumped up" or "having a great day" in the gym, my body is literally stronger, where 225 ( for me which used to feel insanely heavy) is the last warm up before my work set and I don't even think about it as a challenge. Once your lifts are controlled and dominated....then you are stronger.
    I'm not sure what you're talking about. You're stronger when you can lift more weight than you could before.

    Yesterday, I squatted 295# for 3 sets of 5. One week ago, I absolutely would have failed to squat this weight. Hell, 1 workout ago (~4 days), I would have failed. Why did I squat the 295 yesterday? Because I was stronger than I had been 4 days prior.

    2 months is not the answer unless someone is very near to their genetic potential, which would mean they're a competitive powerlifter and wouldn't be asking this question on a forum about Primal living. They'd be asking their professional coach.

    As I said, the answer for a novice is 1 workout and about 48-72 hours of recovery time. Selye's theory, general adaptation syndrome and all that. The science is pretty conclusive.

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    heatseeker's Avatar
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    Thanks, RichMahogany. @Wolfman: Yeah, I'm not talking about a vague notion of strength--I've been strength training for a couple years and am already quite strong--I'm talking about direct cause and effect, as in, "when will I see a resulting strength gain from this specific press I'm doing at this moment".

    I think I'm probably in the Intermediate zone (female @ DL 220, Squat 180, Strict Press 85, Clean 130, Jerk 120... does that sound about intermediate?), so it looks like we're talking a week for strength adaptation. Cool. I was really just curious while doing presses this morning.

    Thank you for recommending that book! Looks awesome.

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    Quote Originally Posted by heatseeker View Post
    Thanks, RichMahogany. @Wolfman: Yeah, I'm not talking about a vague notion of strength--I've been strength training for a couple years and am already quite strong--I'm talking about direct cause and effect, as in, "when will I see a resulting strength gain from this specific press I'm doing at this moment".

    I think I'm probably in the Intermediate zone (female @ DL 220, Squat 180, Strict Press 85, Clean 130, Jerk 120... does that sound about intermediate?), so it looks like we're talking a week for strength adaptation. Cool. I was really just curious while doing presses this morning.

    Thank you for recommending that book! Looks awesome.
    Believe it or not, the numbers don't really indicate which stage of adaptation you're at, your ability to recover does. Are you utilizing a linear progression and making progress? Then you're a novice (this is the best thing to be).

    If you're truly an intermediate, you'll be unable to make progress from workout to workout, and you'll want to periodize e.g. alternate between higher volume/lower intensity and lower volume/higher intensity workouts within a training cycle (week) in order to elicit a strength adaptation.

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    Like some of the others have said, it all depends on a ton of factors, and it will change a lot as you move on....the main thing I have learned about all dieting and fitness is similar to old video games: the "higher level" you want to be, the more it's going to cost you to take every step.

    Novice: Linear progression of strength with big jump right in the beginning due to neural adaptation. It's not uncommon for 5-10 pounds added to benchmark lifts every few weeks. You will recover slowly, but big gains. If you are 25%BF, you can lose incredibly fast with any non-retarded diet regimen.
    Intermediate: Strength gains will slow down, and it will take some regimentation to do it. You will recover faster though. At 15% BF, it will take more restriction to get lower.
    Experienced: Strength gains almost REQUIRE cycling or heavy volume. It begins to feel like you have to just about kill yourself to gain strength, and it will happen slowly. (This assumes you are not doing a powerlifting diet regimen and want to be stay really lean AND be stronger) At about 8%BF, it will take fasting, carb refeeds, deprivation training to get you to 6%. It will all start to cost more the higher up you go.

    So it depends on two main things for me, outside of the obvious:
    1) Years spent training hard.
    2) How much fat are you willing to have to get stronger? At a certain point, gaining strength will require calorie surplus that necessitates some fat gain. Just the way it is.

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    Quote Originally Posted by TheyCallMeLazarus View Post
    Novice: Linear progression of strength with big jump right in the beginning due to neural adaptation. It's not uncommon for 5-10 pounds added to benchmark lifts every few weeks.
    Every workout. 3 workouts a week. Forget this every few weeks noise.

    Quote Originally Posted by TheyCallMeLazarus View Post
    You will recover slowly, but big gains. If you are 25%BF, you can lose incredibly fast with any non-retarded diet regimen.
    Novices recover quickly. Because they lift much less compared to their genetic potential than intermediate and advanced lifters. You have this backwards.

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    heatseeker's Avatar
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    Believe it or not, the numbers don't really indicate which stage of adaptation you're at, your ability to recover does. Are you utilizing a linear progression and making progress? Then you're a novice (this is the best thing to be).
    Aha. Then I'm definitely still a novice. The only time I've plateaued in strength was when I wasn't eating enough. Started eating more (and more carbs) recently, and the strength started shooting up again.

    How much fat are you willing to have to get stronger? At a certain point, gaining strength will require calorie surplus that necessitates some fat gain. Just the way it is.
    I think I'm still at a point where fat loss will happen pretty naturally--I'm around 24%--but yeah, I catch your drift. I recently decided I'd rather be stronger than leaner, and have been eating for performance. I'm okay with looking a little soft if it means more strength/performance. However, I'm still not eating at a surplus, yet I'm getting stronger... ?

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    Quote Originally Posted by RichMahogany View Post
    Depends on your level of adaptation. Novices generally tend to be stronger 48-72 hours after a given workout, if the workout is properly programmed to elicit the adaptation. Intermediates tend to need about a week of correctly programmed exercises to cause a strength adaptation. Advanced or competitive lifters typically need anywhere from a few weeks to a few months to add strength.

    The best book I know of on this subject is Practical Programming by Rippetoe & Kilgore
    This is 100% correct. And Practical Programming is a great book to add to your library. I learned A LOT from it.
    In matters of style, swim with the current. In matters of principle, stand like a rock.

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