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Hypertrophy phase?
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By diatom
Jun 27, 2012
When you're doing a hypertrophy phase, are you eating an excess of calories to ensure that you're building forearm muscle? That is, are you eating more calories than you're burning?

Has anyone measured their forearms before and after a hypertrophy phase to see if the muscles have actually hypertrophied?

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By Dustin Drake
Jun 27, 2012
You are working such a small muscle group, I highly doubt anyone would see any measurable size gains from a single hypertrophy phase. The best measure of your gains is how much additional weight you can handle anyway.

As far as eating and calories go... once again, small muscle group. If you aren't doing a full body workout then I doubt you will see much of a difference between maintenance calories and consuming extra. I do advise a high protein and carb meal immediately after working out, which pretty much everyone should do regardless of goals for optimum recovery.

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By diatom
Jun 27, 2012
But, how do you know the performance increase is from hypertrophy and not recruitment?

Also, despite being a small muscle, will you gain muscle without eating an excess, however small, of calories?

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By Rajiv Ayyangar
From Portland, ME
Jun 29, 2012
Cut! Sadly my flash attempt met with dismal pump-f...
diatom wrote:
But, how do you know the performance increase is from hypertrophy and not recruitment? Also, despite being a small muscle, will you gain muscle without eating an excess, however small, of calories?


Does it matter whether the increase if from hyp or recruitment? If you're measuring a performance increase... that's the goal, isn't it? Unless you're into climbing for the aesthetics of big forearms :)

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By slim
Administrator
Jun 29, 2012
tomato, tomotto, kill mike amato.
they (hyp and recruitment) are different things though. i basically agree with dustin's post on calories. i basically just try to keep my protein intake a little high, and have a recovery drink (fruit smoothie w/ protein powder) after my workout. my wife says my forearms get bigger during my hyp workouts, but i think she is just trying to make me feel better.

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By diatom
Jun 29, 2012
Rajiv Ayyangar wrote:
Does it matter whether the increase if from hyp or recruitment? If you're measuring a performance increase... that's the goal, isn't it? Unless you're into climbing for the aesthetics of big forearms :)


Well, one has to assume that there are better ways to train for max recruitment than as a side effect of failed hypertrophy training. It's about optimizing your time training and maximizing training effect. If I know for a fact that I'm not building muscle and all improvement is being gained from recruitment, I'm going to stop trying to build muscle and do those things that are best for recruitment.

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By Will S
From Joshua Tree
Jun 29, 2012
I think you have a slightly misguided concept that there is a magic dividing line where hypertrophy stops and recruitment starts or that you can really do one without needing to do the other. They are inter-related in that they drive each other.

In weight lifting terms: Increasing recruitment makes you stronger, which drives the ability to train with more weight on the bar during the hypertrophy phase, which drives a progressive loading over time, which drives hypertrophy itself, which creates more muscle fiber, which can then also be recruited.

We typically think along the lines of rep ranges and whether they are optimal for recruitment (1-5 reps), hypertrophy (6-8), anaerobic endurance (8-15) or pure endurance (>15).

But that is an incomplete look at things. If you only trained at 6-8, seeking hypertrophy, you would slowly get a little bigger for a while and then plateau. But what if you mixed that up with recruitment as well? Well, suddenly because you are stronger from the recruitment, you can now do your higher rep hypertrophy protocols with a heavier weight than before and continue to drive the hypertrophy response. Then you're bigger and when you do recruitment again you've got a bigger base of fibers to recruit and get stronger and they cycle goes on and on.

It's part of the reason for periodization that doesn't often get talked about. We tend to talk about peaking for a goal/comp, or avoiding injury, or hitting a wall of progress/point of diminishing returns with respect to a particular aspect (endurance/recruitment/etc).

Increasing recruitment and using that ability to keep training at a higher intensity (i.e. with more weight) will create the stimulus that in turn creates the hypertrophy. We also tend to get too fine grained about this stuff. Yes, you want to optimize your time, but everyone is different and the important thing is to A. Do the training and track it to ensure progressive overload, and B. Cycle through the aspects (whether in a std periodization scheme, or by mixing it up some other way to ensure you train them all because improvement in one is not indendent from the others).

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By diatom
Jun 29, 2012
I understand what you're talking about and that is actually what's driving my questioning. I'm glad you brought up the rep range analogy because that makes things a lot easier to talk about.

So, I'm speaking under the assumption that you're not actually building any muscle during the hypertrophy phase because that's sort of the impression that I was getting. Whether that's true or not is a different conversation, one worth having, to be sure.

But, let's assume you're not building any muscle because you're not in a state of caloric excess or because isometric work is not good for building muscle, or whatever.

So you're doing your hypertrophy phase, which consists of 2 sets of 12 reps. Yes, if you are an untrained individual that's going to increase recruitment. But, if all you're getting is recruitment (because we're assuming no hypertrophy) then you're time would be much better spent doing 3x3 or something like that.

That's all I'm saying.

The thing is, the hypertrophy phase from the rockprodigy article, if I'm understanding it correctly, is definitely designed with hypertrophy in mind, and not recruitment. When training for recruitment, one generally wants as close to full recovery as is possible in between efforts. That means long rests.

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By Dustin Drake
Jun 29, 2012
This is a pretty interesting topic and would certainly benefit from someone with some actual scientific research in this area.

As far as calories go... When we are talking about excess calories and muscle growth, as far as I know the excess calories are needed for absolutely maximum muscle growth potential. I have personally been on a pretty extreme diet now for 3+ months where I have been eating 1000+ calories under maintenance on most days. Compared to 6 months ago I know for fact that my forearms are bigger now despite the calorie deficit. So maybe that is a result due to the timing of when I eat or just a fact that you can grow muscle even when consuming less calories than ideal. I don't know for sure. If anyone has some sources for research on calories and muscle growth, that would be very interesting to read.

My opinion on hypertrophy is that it seems silly. To train solely to increase the size of your muscles is what body builders do. We don't want extra mass to have to carry up the rock that otherwise does very little for us. We want as much power density (aka strength to weight ratio) as possible. We want every single muscle fiber in our arms to be doing work when we need it. This is where max recruitment comes in, AKA strength training. When I train, I train to become stronger and that's it. There is certainly a proportionality between strength and muscle size, but it's certainly not linear. You can get enormous increases in strength with very little to modest increases in muscle size.

Either way, that's just my opinion on the subject. I have not gone through a full blown periodization program yet, but I have done two 8 workout hangboard cycles where I focus on maximum weight hangs with full recovery between sets and have seen enormous improvements. I'll stick with that method until I reach some sort of obvious plateau. I'd personally need a lot more convincing than what is provided in the rock prodigy article before spending time in a 'hypertrophic' phase.

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By diatom
Jun 29, 2012
I agree that you don't want excess muscle mass, but I think more forearm muscle would definitely help more than hurt. I mean 1 pound isn't that much extra weight, but an entire pound of muscle (gained through myofibrillar hypertrophy) in the forearms would lead to phenomenal strength gains.

Lets simplify, and say it's all about how much harder you can press down on a hold. Finger flexor muscles are going to have the most direct impact on how hard you can press on a hold. Let's say 100% of the contractile force is translated to the hold. The further you get away from the forearms the less percentage of the contractile force will be transmitted to the hold. So, maybe 50% of wrist flexors, and 25% of biceps. So adding a pound to each muscle is going to have a different payoff in force production transmitted to the hold. At some point the payoff is not going to exceed the added weight. Where that happens is anybody's guess. Maybe you're right and the payoff of extra finger flexor muscle does not make up for the weight gain, but I doubt it. Not very scientific. I know.

But, I agree that a dedicated hypertrophy phase is probably unneeded for anyone, especially non advanced level climbers. Even elite strength athletes don't periodize in this fashion.

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By Monomaniac
Administrator
From Morrison, CO
Jun 29, 2012
Insurrection, 5.14c.  Photo Adam Sanders.
I have a lot of thoughts about this discussion, but in the interest of brevity...people waste a lot of time and energy arguing over what to call stuff.

Focus more on what you should do and less on what you should call it.

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By diatom
Jun 29, 2012
Monomaniac wrote:
I have a lot of thoughts about this discussion, but in the interest of brevity...people waste a lot of time and energy arguing over what to call stuff. Focus more on what you should do and less on what you should call it.


I feel like I'm wasting a lot of energy in the bodyfat thread trying to assign an ultimately meaningless number to some pictures of people I don't know.

However, I feel like everything said in this thread has practical implications, so I don't really see where you're coming from.

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By slim
Administrator
Jul 2, 2012
tomato, tomotto, kill mike amato.
i think people tend to misunderstand the role of hypertrophy for climbers (talking about forearm/finger). increasing the size and mass of the muscles isn't the only thing that is going on. you are trying to increase the individual strength of the fibers. this means that less fibers will be needed to hold a given load. it also means that the total load supported by the group can be greater.

i tend to think of it like having an army in your muscle. if you are a good general, you can learn when you need to send a bunch of soldiers to do the task quickly, or you can keep sending small amounts of troops to do the job over a longer time period. in either case though, you want each individual soldier to be as competent as possible.

the hypertrophy phase prepares your army for both of these situations. then the next phases teach them how to approach the task.

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By Dana Bartlett
From CT
Jul 3, 2012
To train solely to increase the size of your muscles is what body builders do. We don't want extra mass to have to carry up the rock that otherwise does very little for us

Would fingerboarding, campusing, or bouldering - no matter how they were done - increase muscle mass to the degree that the extra weight would hinder performance? The forearms are relatively small.

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By diatom
Jul 4, 2012
isolationist wrote:
It seems that diatom's argument is that if you assume hangboard "hypertrophy" workouts don't cause hypertrophy, then there is no point in doing them. Can't argue with that logic. More interestingly, the Gripped magazine website recently linked a couple of videos of a cadaver forearm dissection, showing all the muscles and connective tissue; I've linked one of them below. With all the various muscles and connective tissue in your forearms, how much do you think the flexors of a typical climber weigh? Half a pound? Anyone know? Don't watch if you are easily grossed out. forearm dissection


I'm not sure if you're trying to be condescending or not. Disregard the following if you weren't.

You CAN argue with that logic. The argument was made earlier in the discussion. It goes: Even if the hypertrophy phase doesn't cause hypertrophy, it still causes strength gains through other avenues, so it's worth doing. My point was that even if it causes strength gains, a program designed for causing strength without hypertrophy would probably be better. Yes, it's a very simple point. So what?

What would a program designed for strength without hypertrophy look like? I don't know. Good question. It probably wouldn't have such short rest periods. Not as much volume. More intensity. But, I really don't know.

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By diatom
Jul 4, 2012
Dana wrote:
Would fingerboarding, campusing, or bouldering - no matter how they were done - increase muscle mass to the degree that the extra weight would hinder performance? The forearms are relatively small.


I'm gonna go ahead and say no. I mean if you're worried about forearm mass, you should probably start weighing your clothes to make sure you're wearing your lightest outfit, only wearing the lightest shoes, shaving your head.

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By Dustin Drake
Jul 4, 2012
Yeah, I should have worded that a bit clearer. Any muscle mass you put on your forearms is going to be pretty insignificant in regards to overall body weight. You'd undoubtedly increase your strength significantly in the process of building forearm muscle.

I'm just kinda disagreeing with the purported method for achieving finger and forearm strength I guess.

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By Dana Bartlett
From CT
Jul 4, 2012
diatom wrote:
I'm gonna go ahead and say no. I mean if you're worried about forearm mass, you should probably start weighing your clothes to make sure you're wearing your lightest outfit, only wearing the lightest shoes, shaving your head.


Actually my comment was in response to what you had posted earlier about hypertrophy adding mass; you mentioned that that wouldn't be good.

To train solely to increase the size of your muscles is what body builders do. We don't want extra mass to have to carry up the rock that otherwise does very little for us

This thread was about climbing exercises for the forearms, it's pretty clear that that it would be impossible to add an amount of weight to those muscles that would be a detriment, so I didn't understand why you seemed to be against hypertrophy exercises for the forearms.

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By diatom
Jul 4, 2012
Dana wrote:
Actually my comment was in response to what you had posted earlier about hypertrophy adding mass; you mentioned that that wouldn't be good. To train solely to increase the size of your muscles is what body builders do. We don't want extra mass to have to carry up the rock that otherwise does very little for us This thread was about climbing exercises for the forearms, it's pretty clear that that it would be impossible to add an amount of weight to those muscles that would be a detriment, so I didn't understand why you seemed to be against hypertrophy exercises for the forearms.



That wasn't me. On the contrary, I posted this earlier in the thread:

"I agree that you don't want excess muscle mass [in other, larger muscles], but I think more forearm muscle would definitely help more than hurt. I mean 1 pound isn't that much extra weight, but an entire pound of muscle (gained through myofibrillar hypertrophy) in the forearms would lead to phenomenal strength gains."

If other muscles had a more direct effect on climbing strength, like finger flexors do, it'd probably be worth it to build those up too, even though they are larger muscles. But, they don't have that much of an effect. Look at male gymnasts. Their maneuvers are very dependent on bodyweight, and they still have huge upper bodies.

But, like Dustin, I disagree with the "purported method for achieving finger and forearm strength." Or, I'm at least skeptical of it.

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By Dana Bartlett
From CT
Jul 4, 2012
Oh yes, I'm sorry. My mistake.

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By slim
Administrator
Jul 6, 2012
tomato, tomotto, kill mike amato.
can't seem to identify a trend here...
can't seem to identify a trend here...


hmmm, this purported method of gaining strength in...
hmmm, this purported method of gaining strength in the fingers seems pretty dubious.....

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By Chris Plesko
From Westminster, CO
Jul 6, 2012
OMG, I winz!!!
Is the steep line 1 rep max slim?

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By diatom
Jul 6, 2012
What's the source? What do the numbers on the right mean? What does SSS mean? Why the sarcasm and lack of explanation?

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By slim
Administrator
Jul 6, 2012
tomato, tomotto, kill mike amato.
chris,

blue graph lowest line - average weight held (6 grip positions) during my 5 sec on, 5 sec off, 7 rep sets

next 2 lines above are same thing but for 6 reps and 5 reps. the top line is the squareroot sum of the squares of the 3 lines below.

red graph is the basically the same thing with a tweak for time held during a failed rep, but normalized as a cumulative damage function.

diatom,

the source is my january hangboard cycle. the reason that i am being sarcastic is that i think it is kind of funny that people who haven't put forth the time and commitment to REALLY train doubt the results. i don't have any question about the results - i have done a few hb phases here and there, and the numbers don't lie. another thing that doesn't lie is the correlation between where i am strength-wise and where i am sending-wise. i have almost 15 years of data that i can look at and see the results. my only regret is that i haven't done this for the 25 years that i have been climbing. so far in 2012 i have onsited 13 routes at or higher than my previous best onsite (despite having setbacks due to other non-climbing injuries, on top of an insane work schedule).

from the data, you can see that i had an average gain in strength across the 6 grips of about 33 lbs. on my 1/4" crimp i had a gain of 60 lbs in january. the next time you are throwing the coal at a crimp and it just isn't happening, think about how nice it would be to have 30 extra lbs of crimp strength in each hand.

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By Dustin Drake
Jul 6, 2012
Thanks for clarifying your data. Unlabeled graphs make me rage :P

I don't think anyone has made any statement about any particular method not working. We are just trying to discuss optimization here.

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By diatom
Jul 6, 2012
Dustin Drake wrote:
Thanks for clarifying your data. Unlabeled graphs make me rage :P I don't think anyone has made any statement about any particular method not working. We are just trying to discuss optimization here.


This is also how I feel. I'm definitely in favor of organized, progressive training. I'm just trying to find out more info before I decide on a method.

Slim,

You can't really conclude that you've developed any more maximal strength from what you've posted. Yes, you can do a set of 5-7 reps with 60 more pounds, but does that translate to a 60 increase of your one rep max? I'm certain that your 1RM increased but by how much isn't clear. Was the 1/4" crimp the first or last hold you were using? Were you using the 2 minute rests in between holds?

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