The idea of inherent strength
- 09-02-2011, 12:27 PM
The idea of inherent strength
This was somewhat inspired by a recent article posted on A-M.
I think this author's basic answer is mostly right (a "No"), but I think there are some other issues here at play. One of course (which he may allude to but doesn't right out say) is how strength is a function of at least 3 factors: including muscular cross-sectional area, innervation, and leverage. I dont feel the need to go into detail there.
Another thing that I think may not be so straightforward is the measure of strength increases. What I mean is, lets say you double the size of your fast-twich muscle fibers. To me, there is no way that this does not mean a doubling of strength. But we don't see that happen. But at the same time, someone with very, very little muscle still has the ability to move objects of certain size, usually due to leverage and maybe some other factors. So what I think may be going on here is that everyone has a certain degree of "inherent strength" dependent on their size (bone density, amount of fluid in the surrounding area), and *maybe* fat and water retention (I think that's more relevant to the changing nature of leverage rather than the "inherent strength" I'm talking about here). Bottom line, perhaps in order to measure true strength increases we first have to subtract from the weight being lifted the inherent strength value. Ex:
A person with an arm cross-sectional area of A can do BB curls with 125lb for 6 reps vs. that same someone, let's say, with 2xA arm cross-sectional area, doing 165lb BB curls for 6 reps.The math one may be inclined to do is:
165/125=32% increase in strength correlated to a 100% increase of the arm's muscle cross-sectional area. But perhaps the math should really be something like:
inherent strength taking into account starting muscle mass, bone length, bone density, mass of surrounding tissue = 85lb(165-85)/(125-85)=100% increase in strength correlated to a 100% increase of the arm's muscle cross-sectional area.
This is just a B.S. example to illustrate my point. But even if the inherent strength was more like 75lb, the result would be a 80% increase in strength which is much closer than a 32% increase.
This is just a thought I've had in the past. What do you guys think?
- 09-02-2011, 07:25 PM
Pretty new to the forums, but Not to understanding how strength gains are obtained. The article seemed Very thorough and filled with lots of info on strength increases. IMO, which may not mean much, I think that some people over-complicate how the body works in relation to gaining muscle/increasing strength/losing fat/ etc. With that being said, one should be able to EASILY access their strength gains by simply keeping a workout log and tracking progress.
Obviously the more motor units available in a muscle fiber, the more weight it can move. As you correctly stated above, trying to use a "magic number" or formula to determine EVERYONES strength gains is ridiculous. Just like Arnolds arm routine is perfect for him, but maybe not much for someone else. Each person must individualize their training/diet regimen to fit them specifically, but the basic principals remain the same.
As far as strength gains go, Iím sure you know that, to increase ones muscle strength it is directly associated with the size of the muscle. Bigger muscle = more lifted weight possible. I think that simply focusing on eating more (clean) and putting heavier stress on that muscle will yield increased strength.
I know im a newb to the forums, but these simple principals work great for me.
09-03-2011, 01:40 PM
The title of this thread is a bit misleading. I was coming in fully prepared to talk about genetics factors, epigenetics, DNA methylation, etc. Bummer.
Anyhow, to provide an empiracle example to the debate, you can look at elite olympic lifters. These athletes significantly increase their strength with minimal increases in muscle mass, suggesting that the neural involvement in strength and power is significant.
WRT to hypertrophy and CSA, it depends how the CSA is increased. Is it due to satellite cells merging with the muscle fiber to increase sarcoplasm, sarcoplasmic organelles, and nuclei; or is it due to an increase in myofillaments - myosin and actin contractile proteins. The latter will result in much more significant strength gains than the prior.
Interesting topic none-the-less.
09-03-2011, 02:33 PM
^^This I do strongly agree with, however I think that for Power Lifters the objective is to simply get the weight from point A to point B. Don't get me wrong, Power Lifters must increase their strength of course, but I think the "cheating" movements involved w many exercises (ex. clean and jerk) is how their strength increases with very little increase in muscle mass.Is it due to satellite cells merging with the muscle fiber to increase sarcoplasm, sarcoplasmic organelles, and nuclei; or is it due to an increase in myofillaments - myosin and actin contractile proteins.
Wish it was easier to determine strength increases by the amount of fiber recruitment rather than just how much weight is lifted. I mean I can barbell curl 125lbs max with my back against the wall, but I could get 135lbs max standing up using a slight "swaying" movement.
Do you agree?
09-03-2011, 03:17 PM
I do not agree with the statement "I think the "cheating" movements involved w many exercises (ex. clean and jerk) is how their strength increases with very little increase in muscle mass". There is no cheating in a clean and jerk, and tremendous amount of force production is required otherwise the weight will not vertically accelerate. Powerlifting requires absolute strength, whereas olympic lifting requires power (speed x strength). In the case of either, gains in strength/power can be made via neural adaptations - increased size of neuromuscular junctions, increased conduction velocity, increased motor neuron CSA, and more efficient motor unit recruitment (a greater recruitment of type IIX fibers).
As for measuring fiber recruitment, many studies use EMG to see differences in activity during difference exercises, loads, etc. This is something we can look at, or we can do biopses to see differences in hypertrophy of various fibers (type I vs. Type IIA, X, etc.)
09-03-2011, 03:48 PM
yeaaaa that technology sounds pretty expensive, unless you have madd sponsors like J Cutler.lolAs for measuring fiber recruitment, many studies use EMG to see differences in activity during difference exercises, loads, etc. This is something we can look at, or we can do biopses to see differences in hypertrophy of various fibers (type I vs. Type IIA, X, etc.)
09-03-2011, 04:15 PM
EMG's aren't very expensive. The equipment to analyze biopsies can be, and finding subjects willing to let you stick a 2" heavy gauge need into their thigh to remove a cylinder of tissue can be (extremely) challenging.
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