Is It Good To Train For Mass (Hypertrophy)?

North Coast Miller

More than 2500 posts
This is kind of what I was thinking of. What if I train for mass but don't eat more than is comfortable and don't try to stay above a certain weight?

You'll get shredded if you really hit it hard.
Anecdotally, powerlifting burns more calories than a mass building protocol, but if you go by unit of training time I don't see how the higher volume won't consume more calories.

All the usual precautions re training well past the lactate threshold - is easy to burn out if you aren't careful with how you structure. You'll wind up craving carbs and protein. At some point you just won't have the energy to train that way and will have to reduce intensity, volume or both. You will have lost some lbs by the time that happens.
 

Steve Freides

Forum Administrator
Staff member
Senior Certified Instructor
This is kind of what I was thinking of. What if I train for mass but don't eat more than is comfortable and don't try to stay above a certain weight?
This works only for some people. Others, like me, it just makes miserable, tired, and achy all the time from too much exercise and not enough food. I prefer to lose weight while doing only moderate exercise and really minding my diet. Life's hard enough, and doing a lot of exercise _and_ trying to lose weight is not a combination I enjoy. I'd rather eat through my sticking points then worry about being lighter and trying to maintain strength with moderate exercise while doing so.

JMO, YMMV.

-S-
 

pet'

More than 5000 posts
Hello,

@the hansenator
You will improve body composition by torching fat while getting some muscle hypertrophy. However, on the long run, I do not think this is sustainable because muscles are built with the food you eat. Then, sooner or later, your performance will decrease due to lack of energy.

On a long term perspective, I'd tend to hit "slightly" more while being cautious with my weight and and mirror. If body composition keeps getting better, good. However, if (for instance) abs get less and less visible then there are two options: hitting harder or eating less.

Kind regards,

Pet'
 

Kettlebelephant

Quadruple-Digit Post Count
Coincidentally Andrew Read posted about this topic (or at least related to it) on his facebook page yesterday (Post 1) and a little follow up today (Post 2).
In the context of average Joe and health I'm totally with him. Of course you need to add mass if you want to be e.g. a NFL lineman. The sport just requires it.
For everything that's not related to specific sports or professions you probably need a certain amount of mass (-> e.g. some mass is good as you age), but not more than that.
I'm 6'4 205lbs, which puts me a bit above my ideal weight and I can tell you that gaining more mass than I already have would require a good amount of supplements like "weight gainer" or something like that, because I'd have a hard time eating enough clean food to support further mass gains. 200-205lbs is just where my body naturally wants to be and where I feel good.
For me that supports Andrews statement.

Here are his two posts:

Post 1


I am always interested in why people insist on saying they're healthy when they are clearly not. These charts have been developed by doctors and insurance companies over decades looking at hundreds of thousands of people. In other words, they have a very large cross section of society they've used and chances are you fit in the middle range, whether you want to believe it or not.

Let's discuss common issues people ave with these...

1) "I'm really muscular and therefore not at risk". Note - it doesn't say anything about your bodyfat percentage. Extra weight is extra weight and your heart, lungs, and vascular system still need to be able to supply blood to it all. Secondly, the extra food you will need to eat to fuel that extra muscle won't help you live a long life. There are multiple studies that show that deliberately eating less, not more, will extend your life. Finally, if you did take drugs to gain that extra size do you really think that is a healthy practice?

2) "I'm normal sized". Not really. Not if you're outside the ranges shown here. You may be the common size - because 70% of the population is overweight or obese - but that doesn't make it normal. Common and normal aren't the same thing. Like it or not you are most likely of average genetics which mean you fit in the fat part of the bell curve that these charts represent.

3) Of the leading causes of death 7/10 are primarily effected by your diet. Exercise plays a part too but diet is number one when it comes to keeping most major illnesses away. Any extra weight you carry beyond the averages increases your chances of death.

4) If you're over 40 you need to pay double attention to your diet and body fat levels. You are already at the age where you are most at risk for heart attacks and the like. Any extra weight you carry only increases those risks as well as speeds up the decay of your joints thanks to having to carry that extra weight or push those heavy loads you are using to build the extra weight in the first place.

5) "I'd have to lose X kg to weigh that! I haven't been that small since high school!" Do you mean that you have slowly added mass to your frame despite not growing any taller? That's called getting fat. Apart from undersized individuals, of which I was one, who are still gaining muscle into their late twenties, you absolutely should weigh roughly what you weighed when you finished high school. My bodyweight has stayed the same for twenty years. The reason for that is simple - I don't eat a ton of crap and try to justify it to myself and I exercise regularly. It's called discipline - a skill all adults are supposed to have.



Post 2

I want to thank people for all their responses yesterday.

Let's start addressing some of these things.

For all the guys who are big and lean and think it makes them healthy... maybe not. And you should read this as it breaks down in quite simple terms.

I've had a world champion powerlifter call me at 9pm on Christmas Eve crying because he had been told only that day that his heart was operating at 17% and he was a huge risk of dying. It took a year but we got him off the drugs (both his performance stack as well as what his doctor prescribed to keep him alive). Got him back to the 70ish% it's supposed to be.

I've had an international strongman call me after having a heart attack and finding out his heart worked at 20% wonder what to do. Fast forward a year or so and he's dropped some weight and feels alive again.

Mass - all mass - has a cost. That table yesterday indicates risk. Insurance companies use them to figure out how much money they want to gamble on your health. It doesn't matter if you're big and lean, or big and fat, you're going to pay a cost.
 

Bryant W

Double-Digit Post Count
Like it or not you are most likely of average genetics which mean you fit in the fat part of the bell curve that these charts represent.
Absolutely...the law of averages demands nothing more or less of us;)

I've had a world champion powerlifter call me at 9pm on Christmas Eve crying because he had been told only that day that his heart was operating at 17% and he was a huge risk of dying
I've seen similar things. Strong and very large men with the strength to do almost anything other than breath through their own obstructed airway (sleep apnea). And intubating these massive necks can be quite difficult. Massive gents in our cardiothoracic ICU, with hearts no longer capable of doing their job. Of course, working where I work, I suffer selection bias in the populations I see...but still, the risks of being massive appear quite real. But that sort of mass is an extreme, and I suspect it does not hold for those who on occasion add some mass through a hypertrophy cycle. I also see incredibly emaciated elderly people who haven't lifted a weight in their adult lives, with sarcopenia enough to be classified a skeleton;) At some point, they would have done well with a bit of hypertrophy.
 

North Coast Miller

More than 2500 posts
If you are too far one way or the other you will have issues most likely.

At 5'10" I weighed 185lbs. That's when the Dr told me I should loose weight and marry my girlfriend. Whatever the rationale, I decided "does not apply". Those charts are drawn who even knows how - my Dr doesn't, any more than they know the research behind many of the recommendations they make, my kid's pediatrician is a great example of this.

IDK what my peak trim fat % was, but after 3 months with no training due to a shoulder injury I was down to about 180 and still only 7% body fat.

Some of my attitude re "training for mass" is related to training for muscular endurance as well, since that has always been a training target of mine over top end power generation. I have zero reservations about training glycolytic pathways, and both training goals (mass/intensity endurance) frequently operate past lactate threshold.
 

Antti

More than 2500 posts
I generally like what Andrew Read has written but I don't like that one.

First of all, it sounds far too much like preaching to me. That's a question of taste, I suppose.

Secondly, I think he polarizes the issue far too much. I don't think anyone has supported the use of PEDs for hypertrophy in this discussion. And no, we are not talking about getting fat either. There is something in between the extremes.
 

pet'

More than 5000 posts
Hello,

Height: 6'1'' ; weight: 140lbs (63kg) ; %BF : ca 9

Before, I weighted only 57kg. I succeeded in gaining 6kg of lean muscle following paleo diet, in almost 1 year. I've never been that strong and recovered that well. Maybe should I gain even more !

Kind regards,

Pet'
 

Steve Freides

Forum Administrator
Staff member
Senior Certified Instructor
@Antti, I'm with you here. It's not very dramatic to answer, "It depends," but that's really the right answer for so many people when it comes to body composition. At StrongFirst, we prefer to let form follow function - get stronger, eat healthily and in keeping with the requirements of your training program, and enjoy being strong and looking strong. And if most people don't know what strong looks like, that's their problem, not ours.

-S-
 

pet'

More than 5000 posts
Hello,

I think sustainability is also important.

Gaining weight (using a specific diet or not) is relatively easy. Gaining "only" muscle mass (without using a mass protocol (fat + muscle) and then fasting to keep muscle only) is harder.

On the long haul, maintaining the gains wihtout overthinking can be the point. Do we live to train...or do we train to live longer (and stronger) ?

Kind regards,

Pet'
 

Nathan

Double-Digit Post Count
@North Coast Miller - You've solved the mass building problem, get married. The weight magically packs on!

A lot of good advice here. So either you (1) gain mass because you need it for your given sport or (2) you are a normal person where it may not be advisable to add much mass at all.

I will make some observations based on personal experience. Early in my Marine Corps career, I was roughly 175lbs, able to do 20-30 pull-ups, run a sub 20 minute 3 mile and many other things. I was influenced by my Sergeants early on that bodybuilding was a good idea, so I set to adding about 20lbs of muscle within a 6 - 8 week period. Yes, it was probably 95% muscle, the first NO2 supplement was crazy awesome. Since then, it has all gone down hill from there.

At about 195lbs I found that running was really difficult, more than it was before (my lunges tend to inflame a bit when I exert myself, so it has always been a challenge to run). I started running less, gaining more, and before I left the Corps in 2012 I weighed around 200lbs. I DID get myself down to 185lbs in Afghanistan, but that did not last no matter how hard I tried.

The problem was that the added mass unknowingly triggered sleep apnea and I had been fighting against that for 3 - 4 years prior to leaving the Corps, and wasn't diagnosed until a year after I left. This really places a damper on the effectiveness of any training and nutrition program, let alone the neurological problems it caused (i.e... bad memory...etc).

Since leaving the Corps I decided to start competing in Strongman competitions. I stopped after a few years and started focusing on trying to get into Law Enforcement, and possibly back into the Military. At my peak I was about 260lbs, and I am back down to about 235 now (still working on losing a lot more). The joint pain, back pain, loss of conditioning, and myriad of other problems still plague me. I am constantly fighting against these problems to lose weight, where I would have had NONE of these issues (and may have made the Marines a career!).

The kicker, is that I am around 16 - 18% bodyfat, so their isn't enough fat on me to lose in order to get to my goal of around 180lbs. This means I need to find ways to essentially "deflate" my muscle, but keep it strong.
 

pet'

More than 5000 posts
Hello,

An "interesting thing" would be to get the average weight of professional athletes in different sport (for instance, average weight of gymnasts, swimmer, marathoner, etc...).

Kind regards,

Pet'
 

Steve Freides

Forum Administrator
Staff member
Senior Certified Instructor
@Nathan, I have said that I think most adults are well served by remaining close to their high school graduation weight, and I still think that. Of course, that doesn't mean "well-served" if its your choice to bulk up for a sport or because you think others will think better of you if you do, or for any other reason.

There is nothing wrong with getting rid of things you don't find useful, and if that includes some muscle, so be it. Best of luck with it.

-S-
 

Nathan

Double-Digit Post Count
@Steve Freides - Do you have any good methods to getting rid of some muscle? I've done research on it but have never really come up with much. I do agree that I should have stayed the 175lbs that I was from high school and boot camp, and just continued adding strength. I am living proof that adding mass has big consequences.
 

North Coast Miller

More than 2500 posts
@ Nathan,

Gaining weight has never been easy for me, even when I'm doing most of the cooking!

Shortly after our twins were born I could see there would be precious little time for exercise. Also to keep my bodyfat down I dropped a bunch of weight, from my natural load of about 180 down to 155. It did deflate some muscle. I felt lighter, but also had lost a ton of power and higher output endurance. Only recently do I feel I have reinflated, a good bit of that is due to KBs over the last 7 years or so.

Prior to this I had operated for a couple of years at about 165lbs (my HS graduation weight) when doing shiftwork. Was probably in the best aerobic shape of my life and had good muscular endurance, but again had lost a bunch of power.

Numerous times in my life I've pushed my BW from the 160s up to nearly 200. I always wind up back around 185, and instinctively will train/eat to keep that lean. Seems a good blend of reasonable power and good strength endurance.

There is definitely a good height to weight ratio for certain athletes and just for plain old metabolic demands per individual. Too high and you're carrying a lot of load, too low and you lack mass needed for strength and for muscular endurance.
 

North Coast Miller

More than 2500 posts
@ Nathan,
Just go into a caloric deficit and the weight comes off, all of it. Once the fat loss is well underway, the muscle shrinks too, nothing special needs to be done.
 
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