Question of Strength 65

Question of Strength 65

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Ask
Me
Anything

I
receive
great
questions
in
my
T
Nation
Community

Coaching
Lab.
If
you
have
one
for
me,
just
drop
it
there.
But
first,
check
out
these
recent
Q&As.

How
Lean
Should
You
Be
to
Maximize
Muscle
Growth?

Question:
What
percent
body
fat
is
the
most
anabolic,
and
where
do
you
feel
the
best?
Is
that
a
good
place
to
start
a
muscle
growth
phase?

It’s
not
the
same
for
everybody.
Though
technically,
the
leaner
you
are,
the
better
your

insulin
sensitivity.
This
is
important
because
it
improves
nutrient
partitioning,
which
will
help
your
body
preferentially
store
nutrients
in
muscle
tissue
rather
than
fat.

Plus,
when
you’re
leaner,
work
capacity
is
higher.
You’ll
also
likely
recover
faster.
Blood
pressure
will
be
lower,
and
you’ll
probably
be
less
tired
throughout
the
day.
If
you
have
an
extra
20
pounds
of
fat
on
you,
it’s
like
spending
the
whole
day
walking
with
a
20-pound
backpack.

However,
if
you
get
too
lean
relative
to
your
natural

set
point,
you
can
start
to
have
negative
adaptations,
like
these:

Sex
hormones
can
decrease,
lowering
your
sex
drive
or
even
giving
you
erectile
dysfunction.

Cortisol
will
increase,
making
it
harder
to
build
muscle
and
recover
from
training.

Leptin
may
decrease
while

ghrelin
increases,
giving
you
cravings
and
making
you
lazier.

Adrenaline
can
stay
elevated,
even
in
the
evening,
making
it
hard
to
sleep.

So
what’s
the
answer?
Get
as
lean
as
possible
without
being
too
far
from
your
natural
set
point.

What’s
your
natural
set
point?
It’s
the
body
fat
level
that
you
stay
at
naturally.
When
you
lose
fat,
your
body
will
want
to
get
back
to
what
feels
normal,
and
the
further
away
from
what
it
considers
normal,
the
more
bad
stuff
happens
to
force
you
to
go
back
up.

Now,
being
2-5%
lower
than
your
set
point
is
easily
maintainable.
But
when
you
get
down
to
6-8%
lower
than
your
set
point,
you’ll
start
to
have
negative
changes
(like
those
mentioned
above).
The
lower
you
go,
the
more
of
them
you’ll
have.

For
example,
if
your
natural
set
point
is
around
18%
body
fat,
then
maintaining
13-16%
is
pretty
easy.
But
if
you
go
down
to
10%
or
less,
you’ll
begin
to
have
problems.

The
good
news?
You
can
gradually
adjust
your
set
point
downwards.
The
bad
news?
It
takes
time.

For
example,
if
your
set
point
is
18%
and
you
go
down
to
13%
but
stay
there
for
a
long
time
(if
you
got
there
in
a
sustainable
manner),
then
your
body
will
slowly
adjust
its
set
point.
After
a
fairly
long
period,
your
set
point
will
now
be
13-14%
rather
than
18%.

This
will
both
make
it
easier
to
stay
lean
and
also
make
it
possible
to
go
down
to
as
low
as
9-10%
and
maintain
it
without
ill
effects.
That’s
why
I
can
now
stay
at
9-10%
with
very
little
effort
and
can
be
as
low
as
7-8%
and
maintain
it.
But
years
ago,
as
a
fat
Olympic
lifter,
going
down
to
13%
was
uncomfortable.

It
takes
a
long
time
to
adjust
your
set
point.
You
need
to
be
at
a
certain
level
for
close
to
a
YEAR
for
the
body
to
adjust.

And
while
having
a
lower
set
point
makes
it
less
likely
that
you’ll
gain
lots
of
fat,
you
can
still
get
fatter
if
you
eat
too
much.
(When
I
get
above
12-13%,
my
appetite
dies,
which
makes
“bulking”
pretty
much
impossible.)
And
if
you
let
your
body
fat
creep
up
higher
than
your
set
point,
it
will
readjust
back
up.
Be
careful
because,
sadly,
upward
adjustment
is
faster
than
downward
adjustment.

What
percentage
of
body
fat
should
you
start
your
muscle
gain
phase
from?
Well,
the
leaner,
the
better.
First,
because
of
the
insulin
sensitivity
issue.
But
also
because
in
a
proper
muscle-gain
phase,
you’re
bound
to
gain
some
fat.
If
you
start
from
a
very
lean
state,
you
have
more
leeway
to
add
body
fat
while
still
looking
good.
So
it’s
perfectly
fine
to
diet
down
to
a
bit
lower
than
your
“maintainable/comfortable”
level
and
build
from
there.

Why
Are
Powerlifters
Stronger
Than
Bodybuilders?

Question:
Why
are
bodybuilders
weaker
than
powerlifters
if
they
have
more
muscle?

This
isn’t
always
the
case
and
lacks
context.
But
provided
that
they’re
at
the
same
competitive
level
and
at
a
similar
weight,
yes,
most
of
the
time,
it
will
hold
true.
What
are
the
reasons?

1.
Better
neurological
efficiency

Strength
is
a
function
of
both
muscle
size
and
neurological
factors.
The
former
determines
your
strength
potential;
the
latter
determines
how
much
of
that
potential
strength
you
can
use.

The
neurological
factors
involved
in
force
production
are
improved
the
most
when
you
train
heavy
(1-5
hard
reps
per
set).
That’s
a
zone
most
bodybuilders
avoid
since
they
tend
to
stick
to
6-12
reps
per
set.

2.
Better
technical
efficiency

The
squat,
bench,
and
deadlift
are
not
as
technically
simple
as
people
think.
Granted,
they’re
simpler
than
a
snatch
or
clean
&
jerk,
but
optimizing
lifting
technique
on
the
three
powerlifts
takes
time
and
practice.
Heck,
you
have
elite
lifters
still
working
on
improving
their
technical
efficiency
even
after
20-plus
years
of
lifting!

Learning
to
do
these
lifts
is
simple,
but
optimizing
technique
to
increase
every
possible
pound
is
very
complex.
Bodybuilders
normally
just
set
up
under
the
bar
and
lift.
Powerlifters
spend
years
perfecting
their
technique,
which
allows
them
to
move
more
weight.

3.
Difference
in
muscle
tissue
structure

A
muscle
is
made
of
muscle
fibers.
Each
fiber
goes
from
one
end
of
the
muscle
to
the
other.
But
it’s
not
one
continuous
fiber.
Rather,
it’s
a
series
of
muscle
fiber
segments
attached
together
by
micro-tendons.
Those
micro-tendons,
just
like
your
actual
large
tendons,
respond
to
load.
They
get
more
resilient
over
time
when
they
have
to
resist
intense
loading.
Heavy
weights
are
better
at
making
them
more
solid
and
resilient.

A
powerlifter
who
trains
heavy
will
have
tougher
micro-tendons
than
the
bodybuilder
who
trains
lighter
but
with
more
volume.
The
result?
The
powerlifter’s
muscle
tissue
is
more
resistant
to
heavy
loading.
This
makes
the
body
more
likely
to
“allow”
them
to
use
a
greater
percentage
of
their
strength
potential
because
their
risk
of
injury
is
lower.

4.
Difference
in
fiber
adaptations

Pure
hypertrophy
training,
especially
with
slightly
higher
reps
(10-20
reps
per
set),
will
lead
to
a
conversion
of
the
fast-twitch
fibers
into
intermediate
fibers.
Those
hybrid
fibers
have
a
high
potential
for
growth
while
being
fairly
fatigue-resistant.
So
they’re
optimally
adapted
to
the
type
of

work
that
a
bodybuilder
does.

5.
Less
Golgi
tendon
organs
inhibition
(GTO)

The
GTOs
are
sensors
situated
in
your
tendons.
Their
job
is
to
protect
you
against
yourself.
Specifically,
when
they
sense
that
you’re
producing
too
much
force
with
your
muscles
(even
within
your
potential),
they’ll
inhibit
further
force
production
to
avoid
tearing
your
muscles
or
tendons
apart.

This
mechanism
is
overly
protective.
That’s
why
a
normal
person
can
only
use
around
30%
of
their
strength
potential.
As
you
use
more
weight,
you
can
desensitize
those
receptors,
allowing
you
to
use
a
greater
percentage
of
your
potential.

The
more
your
training
focuses
on
heavy
loading,
the
more
you
can
desensitize
your
GTOs
and
the
more
of
your
strength
potential
you
can
use.
An
elite
strength
athlete
(powerlifter
or
weightlifter)
might
be
able
to
use
up
to
90%
of
their
potential,
while
a
bodybuilder
might
only
be
able
to
use
70%.

How
Can
I
Get
Fast,
Strong,
and
Jacked?

Question:
I
want
to
look
jacked
and
be
as
strong
as
an
ox,
but
I
also
want
to
get
fast
and
move
like
an
athlete.
How
should
I
train?

Building
muscle
is
hard
and
takes
time.
Getting
strong
is
hard
and
takes
time.
Becoming
fast
is
hard
and
takes
time.
Moving
like
an
athlete
is
hard
and
takes
time.
See
a
pattern?

Each
of
these
goals
is
hard
to
reach
unless
you’re
a
genetic
freak.
Heck,
a
person
could
devote
his
or
her
whole
life
to
achieving
a
high
level
in
ONE
of
those
categories
and
still
not
reach
an
elite
level.

The
chances
of
an
average,
non-beginner
achieving
all
of
those
at
the
same
time
are
abysmally
low.
Trying
to
get
all
of
that
at
the
same
time
will,
at
best,
lead
to
a
small
improvement
in
all
of
them.
At
worst,
it
will

overtrain
you
and
leave
you
injured.

Instead,
focus
on
one
or
two
(related)
goals
at
a
time
and
do
everything
to
get
them
up
as
high
as
possible.
This
is
also
hard
and
takes
time.
Once
you
reach
a
satisfactory
level,
pivot
to
the
next
goal
while
maintaining
your
gains
in
the
previous
capacities.

What
things
can
we
effectively
train
together
(at
a
higher
level)?

Strength
and
Hypertrophy

Strength
and
Power

Power
and
Speed

Anaerobic
Capacity
and
Aerobic
Power

So
that’s
four
different
training
cycles,
which
you
could
use
as
a
seasonal
approach:

Autumn:
Strength
and
hypertrophy

Winter:
Strength
and
power
(explosive
lifting,
jumps,
throws)
and
low-volume/maintenance
hypertrophy

Spring:
Power
and
speed/agility
and
low-volume
maintenance
strength

Summer:
Energy
systems
and
low-volume
maintenance
strength

That’s
the
approach
that
a
friend
of
mine
has
been
using
for
over
20
years,
and
at
55,
he
looks
30
and
is
stronger,
faster,
leaner,
and
fitter
than
many
athletes.

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