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Old 04-29-2014, 08:28 AM   #1
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Default Starting Strength vs U/L BB split

I realise that im kind of spitting in the face of common "broledge" here, but i really believe that a well thought out and executed bodybuilding 4 day upper/lower split can be superior for muscle development over programs like Starting Strength and Stronglifts for new lifters as well as more experienced ones. New lifters are on the internet almost without exception told "build basic strength before trying for a bodybuilding workout". Im calling bullshit on that... what is it about bodybuilding workouts that prevents you from building basic strength WHILE being on them ? If you one week cannot lift x amount of kilos for 12 reps, and the next week you can, have you not gained strength ?

Logic tells me that any program, bodybuilding or not, should be based around compound movements simply because they work more muscles than isolation movements, they are more efficient. SS and SL has got that part right, where many "muscle magazine bodybuilding routines" fail at realizing the importance of compound lifts for muscle building and instead focus on a thousand variations of biceps curls.

Logic also tells me that more muscle will be built, by increasing the number of repetitions of each compound movement into the classic bodybuilder rep range, simply by taking advantage of the hypertrophy such rep ranges promote. Hypertrophy does not care if you are a beginner, or an advanced lifter. Hypertrophy either happens, or it doesnt. Challenge your body and it will adapt. Hypertrophy does not have prerequisites. You dont need to be squatting 200kgs before hypertrophy will magically work for you. Hell. If all you can curl for 3 sets of 12 reps is your fork and knife, that will work too. As long as you use a bigger fork and knife for your 3 sets of 12 reps the next time.

It's also only logical that while your 1RM might not be AS high as if you were spesifically training to increase your 1RM as much as possible, you will become stronger simply by adding weight when you nailed your rep goal. Linear gains happens either way as long as you arent being a moron that never adds any weight to your lifts. Linear gains, by the way, does not "stop after a certain time" either. It only stops when your body reaches its natural limits, or, if you fail to add weight when you could have (self sabotage).

And by the way, i think squatting 3 times per week is too much. Why is it that for your pecs, 3-4 days of restitution is optimal but for some reason all of the muscles worked by the squat somehow can get by with only 2 days of restitution, for a prolonged period of time ? Your entire core and legs somehow is more resilient to stress than your pecs and lats ? It does not make any sort of sense to me.

To me it really boils down to this....

If you want to be as strong as possible in as short a time as possible, then lift in the lower rep ranges and add weight when you can. You will also gain some size.

If you want to become as big as possible in as short a time as possible, lift slightly less weight for more repetitions and add weight when you can. You will also gain some strength, and superior muscle endurance.

Sooo... im done with SS and SL type programs as my goals differ from where those programs are leading me. I hope im not screwing up too much by following my own convictions about training
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Old 04-29-2014, 08:41 AM   #2
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The legs are more used to frequent stress from walking and running on them.

In my opinion a beginner would build more muscle from the strength training programs because progression of weight would happen must faster. I think that if trainee A was doing 3x5 for working sets of the same exercises and same frequency as trainee B who did 3x12, after 3-6 months trainee A would be handing much heavier loads and therefore be building more muscle.
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Old 04-29-2014, 08:51 AM   #3
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He would indeed be handling heavier loads, for sets of 5 reps. Add more reps to induce more hypertrophy, and he would have to reduce the amount of weight he lifts to achieve his rep goal.

It is not too far fetched to think that he would have to reduce his poundage to about the same amount as the bodybuilder is lifting, to achieve the same amount of reps. Keep in mind, the bodybuilder has not been lifting the same weight for 6 months either. He has been slowly but surely increased his loads as well, along the way.
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Old 04-29-2014, 09:02 AM   #4
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But why would trainee A have to switch to higher reps? Why not add more weight to induce more hypertrophy?
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Old 04-29-2014, 09:14 AM   #5
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You are right i guess, he would not need to. Lower reps does lead to hypertrophy. He would primarily get myofibrillar hypertrophy though, whereas the bodybuilder would get mainly sarcoplasmic hypertrophy.

It is my understanding that sarcoplasmic hypertrophy in general produces somewhat larger muscles than myofibrillar hypertrophy but myofibrillar hypertrophy produces "dense" and powerful muscle.

They are not mutually exclusive though, a powerlifter does get some sarcoplasmic hypertrophy, but mainly myofibrillar hypertrophy. For a bodybuilder it is the opposite.
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Old 04-29-2014, 10:20 AM   #6
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You'll get a lot bigger squatting 400 x 10 than 135 x 10. Doesn't matter how you get there.
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Old 04-29-2014, 10:36 AM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bruteforce View Post
You'll get a lot bigger squatting 400 x 10 than 135 x 10. Doesn't matter how you get there.
Truth.

If you're after pure muscle building and leg size, then build a base. I am not a fan of minimalistic programs like Starting Strength or Stronglifts if you are after muscle, muscle and more muscle. You certainly will build muscle with them, but I prefer to see squats and leg presses, and maybe hacks.

For what it's worth, when I structure full body programs I only have guys squatting 1x-2x a week. I personally prefer deadlifts on the middle day, squats on day one and a leg press or higher rep squat day on the last training day of the week.

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And by the way, i think squatting 3 times per week is too much.
There are a few things to consider.

When you do 12 sets per week per major body part, it can be done:

1) 12 sets per day using a split.
2) 4 sets per day, 3x a day using a full body.

Muscle protein synthesis encourages the second choice, but in the long run it typically doesn't matter if someone gets a lot stronger and remains consistent.

The Carpinelli meta-analysis revealed that it's not the weight or reps, but more so how hard each set is pushed that lends itself to more optimal hypertrophy.

So this is why I recommend taking every set one rep shy of failure. Using this method you are maximizing sets, and pushing for progression in a very natural and auto-regulated manner.

The alternative is to not push sets for max reps. I don't want any part of this, typically.

I want to see a trainee use this style for at least 2-3 years and build a strength and muscle base. What type of program you do it on really won't matter. Full bodies are more optimal on paper due to muscle protein synthesis levels returning to baseline after 48 hours, but this "optimization" edge has never prevented natural bodybuilders from packing on tons of mass using a split.

The magic is consistency and resistance. There are no magic programs.

Most people don't fail because of programs. They fail because they take long breaks away from training and remain weak. They workout instead of train.
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Old 04-30-2014, 01:52 AM   #8
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It may be that it's my age (closing up on 40) that makes squatting heavy 3 times a week feel too tough. YMMV

Thanks for the reference to that study BendtheBar. It's interesting reading... It does make me think that ending the last set of your exercises with a few isometric hold reps that challenge the muscles you want to train to their absolute maximum, could be beneficial to growth. For example, 3x10 lateral raises (at 10RM) followed by 2-3 isometric holds in the top position until completely fatigued. It also makes me think that quite a few people have been ruining their joints in the pursuit of ever greater loads, for nothing.

From a "historical" point of view, it does make sense that it is the effort and not the load, that determines how much hypertrophy you will achieve. Im thinking spesifically of the old school blacksmiths, or lumberjacks. Their work consisted mainly of prolonged hammering or axework, which in it self did not become heavier or lighter as the hours passed by. The muscles simply became exhausted and damaged from this somewhat monotonous work (hypertrophy) and had to repair itself. Those guys was the most buff dudes around, and they did not challenge their body with ever larger trees or chunks of iron, but they probably was really sore when going to bed after a long days work.

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Old 04-30-2014, 04:46 AM   #9
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I started with Starting Strength. It didn't really work how I would've liked it to, especially in retrospect.

Too little (volume, and usage of some muscles), but also too much (aggressive overloading, and heavy squat frequency).

If I could start over, but still doing full body, I would go for something more like this: http://www.muscleandbrawn.com/forums...ead.php?t=6454

But hey, you live and learn - that's the important thing. IMO, you have to experiment a bit anyway, so just go for something that seems to make sense, and appeals to you, then take it as far as it will go, without killing yourself along the way.
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Old 04-30-2014, 05:01 AM   #10
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Quote:
Too little (volume, and usage of some muscles), but also too much (aggressive overloading, and squat frequency).
My thinking as well. After 4 months of SL my knee joints are beginning to protest, and yet it feels like im not really pushing my body as hard as i could.

At this point im going to deload the squat to give my poor knees a much needed break, and aim for increasing reps per set for a while before starting to add weight again / lower reps and progressing slowly but surely in that manner. Doing it like that is going to give me a chance to polish my lifting technique as well.
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