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October 8, 2012 3:01 PM
I am curious about a post in a different thread about caloric maintenance and increasing muscle fiber (hyperplasia). A bit of background, my start weight was 182 lbs, my current weight is 165 lbs - I'm 5'11 and probably about 12-15% bodyfat. Once I hit my goal weight (165) I started to do some strength training - mostly in the form of pullups and pushups (but some other exercises as well). I have maintained caloric balance for about 90 days (3 mos) and managed to increase my pullups from 3 to 10 (I do multiple sets throughout the day so I might do 35-50 in a workout day....) and pushups from 10 to 25 (I do about 150 every other day). So, I definitely have gotten stronger by any measure (10 pullups isn't so bad...). And, visually speaking, I have gained noticeable amounts of size (hypertrophy) in my chest, shoulders and back. I'll also say that I have not undertaken resistance training for quite some time - but I was able to do 12 pullups in the last three years and probably 40 pushups. I figure I will hit a plateau at some point and will have to eat more to gain more mass. Is it possible to know if these gains in size are simply hypertrophy (muscle cells getting bigger) or hyperplasia (more muscle cells)? In the other thread the post said that in caloric deficit it is likely that the person is simply "repair[ing] atrophied muscle [and causing] them to fill up with glycogen." This doesn't seem quite right to me - but I may be naive. Either way, the strength gains are real. Do I care (or should I care) whether the gains are hypertrophy or hyperplasia anyway? Any advice?

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hyperplasia
October 8, 2012 3:05 PM
I'm not sure why you would care. If I'm getting both bigger and stronger, life is good and I keep doing what I'm doing.

If you are eating at maintenance, it is possible for you to gain muscle. Not as much as if you're at surplus, but definitely possible. Generally you should also notice a slight decrease in BF%
October 8, 2012 3:09 PM
QUOTE:

I'm not sure why you would care. If I'm getting both bigger and stronger, life is good and I keep doing what I'm doing.

If you are eating at maintenance, it is possible for you to gain muscle. Not as much as if you're at surplus, but definitely possible. Generally you should also notice a slight decrease in BF%


Pretty much this. I'll also add that if you're new to strength training (and it seems you are), you will definitely see some initial big "gains" in appearance due to water retention in the muscles and even just due to inflammation in the muscles that you just tortured. Especially with a lower body fat ratio like you currently have - even more noticeable.
October 8, 2012 3:45 PM
Well, I was curious if there was a long term benefit to increasing the number of muscle fibers vs. increasing the size of the individual muscle fibers. If there is a long term benefit to increasing the number than perhaps the strength gains and size gains are less beneficial if I am at caloric maintenance. And, well, as one person suggested the bulking at 10% bodyfat and cutting at 15% bodyfat and since I am somewhere close to the middle range should I just lose weight down to about 10% before I start to bulk. Really, I don't want to weigh less than 165 as I begin to look a bit thin... But I also want to understand more about this whole process of strength gains. The idea that most of the size/strength gain is from water retention seems odd considering the measurable strength gains (3 to 10 pullups, 10 to 25 pushups). And, yes, I have probably seen a slight downward change in body fat as I strength trained - it is fairly minor but the pants are a bit looser at 165 lbs today then they were at 165 lbs 90 days ago.
Edited by ukulele2010 On October 8, 2012 3:47 PM
October 8, 2012 3:57 PM
Hyperplasia is very rare in humans. Hpertrophy is how humans build mass 99%of the time. Innervation of existing (unused) fiber bundles is the first step. Hypertrophy usually begins between 4 and 6 weeks into a program.
October 8, 2012 4:04 PM
Strength is neuromuscular. You don't have to have big muscles to be strong.

Muscle Hypertrophy is the increase in either fluid in cells of the muscles or the addition of contractile proteins in the muscle.

Increasing actual muscle fibers(Hyperplasia) is believed to be rare if not impossible. The jury is still out on that.
October 8, 2012 4:10 PM
http://www.weightrainer.net/training/growth1.html

http://www.weightrainer.net/training/growth2.html
October 8, 2012 4:19 PM
QUOTE:

Hyperplasia is very rare in humans. Hpertrophy is how humans build mass 99%of the time. Innervation of existing (unused) fiber bundles is the first step. Hypertrophy usually begins between 4 and 6 weeks into a program.

Thanks, so as I understand your response and others, I may be sub-optimal in my eating for strength gains as I am at balance but the gains and hypertrophy are about as good as it gets for now. I believe I've gone beyond simple innervation of the existing muscle fiber at this point as I have gain mass and the timeline is about 90 days. I would consider myself an "untrained" strength athlete when I started (although my cardiovascular fitness is good); I have strength trained in the past. I suspect I will eventually plateau in my gains and I will necessarily need to eat more and change my regimen. Generally, I prefer periodization plans to guide my training and move beyond plateaus.
October 8, 2012 4:25 PM
QUOTE:

http://www.weightrainer.net/training/growth1.html

http://www.weightrainer.net/training/growth2.html


So these references are helpful but I did not see much regarding caloric intake... In other words, I've seen both strength and mass increases as an untrained athlete at caloric maintenance through my strength training. Most people say that is relatively difficult. I suspect it is due to starting out vs. being a trained athlete.
October 8, 2012 5:36 PM
QUOTE:

http://www.weightrainer.net/training/growth1.html

http://www.weightrainer.net/training/growth2.html


good articles!
October 8, 2012 5:47 PM
Well there are variables. Your untrained, your muscles are going to respond rapidly to this new stimuli. They are going to swell with fluid become inflamed due to the stress now place on them. Strength is not indicative solely of muscle gains. You eating at maintenance, not a deficit. Essentially recomping. Not sure why you are confused about what is going on


How are you measuring your bodyfat percentage and how are you measuring muscles "gains".
October 8, 2012 5:48 PM
QUOTE:

QUOTE:

Hyperplasia is very rare in humans. Hpertrophy is how humans build mass 99%of the time. Innervation of existing (unused) fiber bundles is the first step. Hypertrophy usually begins between 4 and 6 weeks into a program.

Thanks, so as I understand your response and others, I may be sub-optimal in my eating for strength gains as I am at balance but the gains and hypertrophy are about as good as it gets for now. I believe I've gone beyond simple innervation of the existing muscle fiber at this point as I have gain mass and the timeline is about 90 days. I would consider myself an "untrained" strength athlete when I started (although my cardiovascular fitness is good); I have strength trained in the past. I suspect I will eventually plateau in my gains and I will necessarily need to eat more and change my regimen. Generally, I prefer periodization plans to guide my training and move beyond plateaus.


it is inevitable that you will eventually plateau, everyone does, genetically, you can only increase your mass so much before your body basically says "that's enough".

The key is that while you can make massive gains in innervation and fiber bundle recruitment , making the first few weeks the most productive, these are not actual protein mass gains, they are gains in your body's ability to efficiently utilize all the existing muscle fiber bundles and use them in a coordinated effort, After some weeks of training, your body fully realizes it's potential with the existing muscle mass, and the only way to improve is to grow the muscle size. While you may feel like you're growing muscle mass at the start, and it may look like you are, you're actually simply re-hydrating the muscle that was somewhat dormant before, making it look larger and function better. While this is a good thing, and required for mass building, it's not muscle gain (per-se), then again, I'm pretty much splitting hairs here, because for all intents and purposes it is lean mass gain.
And to answer your calorie question. In rare cases it's possible to be at maintenance and still gain muscle, but generally it only happens on a very localized level, and there usually has to be enough fat stores in the body to facilitate the use of extra energy to build mass. Remember, we don't build lean mass while in a catabolic state, Growth hormones (like testosterone, HGH, IGF...etc.) aren't target-able to any one area of the body, the body will produce them (in larger than maintenance quantity) if it feels it can afford growth (I.E. anabolic state), if you're catabolic (burning more than you eat) and you don't have large ready fat stores (which you don't) then you're not going to build much (if any) new mass.
Edited by SHBoss1673 On October 8, 2012 5:49 PM
October 8, 2012 5:51 PM
stength gains are possible on a caloric defecit because its more about training the nervous system... however gaining skeletal muscle is not possible on a defecit and extremely minimal on a maintenance diet unless you are a true beginner.
  18466206
October 8, 2012 7:59 PM
QUOTE:

Well there are variables. Your untrained, your muscles are going to respond rapidly to this new stimuli. They are going to swell with fluid become inflamed due to the stress now place on them. Strength is not indicative solely of muscle gains. You eating at maintenance, not a deficit. Essentially recomping. Not sure why you are confused about what is going on


How are you measuring your bodyfat percentage and how are you measuring muscles "gains".


So, are you saying that the size and strength gains are "just" fluid? And, if so, is fluid what makes up most hypertrophy gains anyway? As others have said it is unlikely that humans increase the number of muscle fibers. I am "measuring" my bodyfat percentage by looking at charts like this:

Image not displayed
I would say my bodyfat somewhere between 12% and 15% - I'm 5'11 and 165 lbs with a 33 in waist. My bodyfat percentage has not changed much in the last 90 days - my pants are a little looser in the waist at the same weight.

My muscle gains - I'm not entirely sure what you mean here - but my strength gains are in the number of pullups and pushups I do for the first set and my size gains are visible to myself and my wife - it is noticeable. In addition, my shirts are much tighter across the chest and my suit jackets are tighter across the shoulders - so much so that they need to be tailored. No doubt some of the strength gains are from neuro-pathways - I would be surprised if all of the gains were neurological, given the tripling in the number of reps for pullups and pushups and the hypertrophy in the chest, back and shoulders.

And, I may be a true beginner - what differentiates a true beginner from someone who is not such a person. That is, would you consider me a true beginner until I hit a plateau? Is there some other metric? Basically, I figure I may be able to continue as I am until I hit a plateau but this may be fool hardy. And why are the heuristics to go basically to cut to 10% bodyfat and bulk to 15%? Lets just assume that I did get bigger across the chest, back and shoulders so this will be a bit easier. If I did not gain skeletal muscle what did I gain?

I understand bulking and cutting, I am a little unclear on the whole body recomping process. Is there a link?

Thanks again, in advance.
October 8, 2012 10:08 PM
body recomping... only works if you are a beginner.... how do you know if you are a beginner??? dont have a specific diet or workout regemin yet still get leaner and more muscular from working out eating sensibly... usually within the first 6months of training. just cut and bulk... in my opinion you are skinny already at 165lbs so i suggest you add some muscle to your frame by bulking before you decide to cut that way you have good amount of muscle to show...

since u a beginner you dont need to force feed or anything.. what works for me is that if my strength gains arent going up and niether is my body weight then i add more calories... strength gains go up on a hypertrophy routine then no need for more food even if body weight stays the same. all about them gainz
  18466206
October 9, 2012 4:49 AM
QUOTE:

QUOTE:

Well there are variables. Your untrained, your muscles are going to respond rapidly to this new stimuli. They are going to swell with fluid become inflamed due to the stress now place on them. Strength is not indicative solely of muscle gains. You eating at maintenance, not a deficit. Essentially recomping. Not sure why you are confused about what is going on


How are you measuring your bodyfat percentage and how are you measuring muscles "gains".


So, are you saying that the size and strength gains are "just" fluid? And, if so, is fluid what makes up most hypertrophy gains anyway? As others have said it is unlikely that humans increase the number of muscle fibers. I am "measuring" my bodyfat percentage by looking at charts like this:

Image not displayed
I would say my bodyfat somewhere between 12% and 15% - I'm 5'11 and 165 lbs with a 33 in waist. My bodyfat percentage has not changed much in the last 90 days - my pants are a little looser in the waist at the same weight.

My muscle gains - I'm not entirely sure what you mean here - but my strength gains are in the number of pullups and pushups I do for the first set and my size gains are visible to myself and my wife - it is noticeable. In addition, my shirts are much tighter across the chest and my suit jackets are tighter across the shoulders - so much so that they need to be tailored. No doubt some of the strength gains are from neuro-pathways - I would be surprised if all of the gains were neurological, given the tripling in the number of reps for pullups and pushups and the hypertrophy in the chest, back and shoulders.

And, I may be a true beginner - what differentiates a true beginner from someone who is not such a person. That is, would you consider me a true beginner until I hit a plateau? Is there some other metric? Basically, I figure I may be able to continue as I am until I hit a plateau but this may be fool hardy. And why are the heuristics to go basically to cut to 10% bodyfat and bulk to 15%? Lets just assume that I did get bigger across the chest, back and shoulders so this will be a bit easier. If I did not gain skeletal muscle what did I gain?

I understand bulking and cutting, I am a little unclear on the whole body recomping process. Is there a link?

Thanks again, in advance.


Charts like that are nice, but keep something in mind: In off season at 24/20% bodyfat I look nothing like those women. Get some calipers and chart it that way, get an experienced trainer to do a 7 or 9 pt pinch or get dunked if you can afford.

If you are truly gaining muscle mass your weight should be going up and sticking. You don't weigh a lot at 165 as it is. Especially if you bodyfat hasnt budged in 3 months. Initinal fuid rentention and inflammation can cause clothing tightness. You are ripping your muscle so just like any physical damage your body surrounds the area with fluid to protect it.

You are an untrained newb if you haven't consistently particpated in a strength/hypertrophy protocol for some time.

Think of a recomp as a slower form of bulking. Wher you gain muscle and lose fat at the same time. A slower less efficient way of gaining mass but minimizes fat gains. Look up Lyle McDonald.
October 9, 2012 4:50 AM
bump to read
  192152
October 9, 2012 7:59 AM
QUOTE:

in my opinion you are skinny already at 165lbs so i suggest you add some muscle to your frame by bulking before you decide to cut that way you have good amount of muscle to show...

since u a beginner you dont need to force feed or anything.. what works for me is that if my strength gains arent going up and niether is my body weight then i add more calories... strength gains go up on a hypertrophy routine then no need for more food even if body weight stays the same. all about them gainz


Just to follow up - and again thanks for the info - I suppose I should not follow the "cut to 10% body fat bulk to 15% bodyfat" heuristic as an untrained athlete? At 165 lbs I am near the top of my BMI range - 23 - so I don't exactly feel "skinny" but more or less "normal" to slightly athletic (based on the bodyfat chart). I realize BMI is less applicable to people who strength-train but I'm not exactly big at the moment either. I've bulked only one other time in the past and that was at a similar weight - I went from 165 lbs to 175 lbs after I hit a plateau in strength training at 165 lbs.

I currently take in about 2100 calories a day (and I've stayed at the same weight for 90 days so I suppose this is about right for maintenance). During a bulk-phase what does one typically take in over maintenance? I assume it is a percentage of TDEE, although I don't have any guidelines. I was reading Lyle McDonald's site (body recomposition) and he suggests that gaining 2 lbs of muscle per month can be a reasonable goal for beginners - so should I just change my goals on MFP to gain .5 lbs per week? McDonald does note that water retention is a factor in hypertrophy - but also states that water balance is generally achieved in about 3 weeks - I've been working out for 90 days so I would imagine the hypertrophy gains I see are more than simple water retention. I'm not saying I'm not a newb - but I am saying that I suspect the gains in strength and mass are not simply water unless there is some other reasonable explanation (and I am open to hearing hypotheses).

I realize the chart is a basic estimation of body fat and not particularly reliable. Then again, I'm not sure how important is to have a reliable and valid measure of body fat percentage anyway (as I am not a competitive body builder). How does knowing someone's body fat percentage help guide training goals? If I had a more reliable and valid measure what would I do with that information (especially given my newb status)? And, given that I tend to look a bit thin when I weight under 165 lbs I don't think I really want to loose more weight (I weighed 155 lbs when I completed a half-ironman and was definitely on the light side of things...). Heck, some have noted I am already "skinny" regardless of my bodyfat percentage.
October 9, 2012 11:47 AM
Bump
October 9, 2012 12:04 PM
bump
October 9, 2012 12:18 PM
QUOTE:

Just to follow up - and again thanks for the info - I suppose I should not follow the "cut to 10% body fat bulk to 15% bodyfat" heuristic as an untrained athlete?


Honestly I think that you need to let the mirror decide whether or not you cut or bulk, or do a short recomp. Post a few pics and ask for feedback on cutting/bulking and you'll get more accurate help.



QUOTE:
During a bulk-phase what does one typically take in over maintenance? I assume it is a percentage of TDEE, although I don't have any guidelines.


I would START at about +10% and increase from there.




QUOTE:
I was reading Lyle McDonald's site (body recomposition) and he suggests that gaining 2 lbs of muscle per month can be a reasonable goal for beginners - so should I just change my goals on MFP to gain .5 lbs per week? McDonald does note that water retention is a factor in hypertrophy - but also states that water balance is generally achieved in about 3 weeks - I've been working out for 90 days so I would imagine the hypertrophy gains I see are more than simple water retention. I'm not saying I'm not a newb - but I am saying that I suspect the gains in strength and mass are not simply water unless there is some other reasonable explanation (and I am open to hearing hypotheses).


Keep reading Lyle, good resource. If you're still noticing improvement 90 days in then you're either experiencing hypertrophy or fat loss or a combination of both, and since you're eating near maintenance (I say that based on your bodyweight stabilizing, for the record 2100 should be a deficit for you most likely) it wouldn't surprise me if you're experiencing "a little bit of both".

I think setting an acceptable range of weight gain is a good idea and you need to decide how close you want to cut it as far as keeping your gains towards the minimal end (and thus reducing potential fat gain at the cost of possibly not gaining LBM as quickly) vs going on the aggressive end and possibly gaining a bit more fat. I think somewhere in the range of 2 to 4 lbs/month is a good general guideline.


QUOTE:
How does knowing someone's body fat percentage help guide training goals?


In a non competitive situation I think visual estimation is a perfectly fine method for making decisions. The only exception I'd make would be someone who can't estimate worth a crap or has body image issues.

QUOTE:
And, given that I tend to look a bit thin when I weight under 165 lbs I don't think I really want to loose more weight (I weighed 155 lbs when I completed a half-ironman and was definitely on the light side of things...). Heck, some have noted I am already "skinny" regardless of my bodyfat percentage.


Sounds to me like you should probably bulk. Winter is coming anyways, if you get fat nobody will really notice :)
Edited by SideSteel On October 9, 2012 12:19 PM
October 9, 2012 12:26 PM
Bump to read later. I've got the same question.
  5947327
October 9, 2012 12:30 PM
Uke - Similar situation here. 5'10" at 156 lbs. I started maintenance 27 August @ 157 lbs and have averaged 2200 NET calories since. Three weeks prior to that I started a heavy lifting routine while running twice weekly. Somehow I'm down a pound (weekly average of daily weighings) while slowly ramping up caloric intake (2300 in the past week). Using the Bailey method, I've dropped 2% BF (13 to 11) since starting maintenance.

My plan is to bulk/cut using the 15/10 method you've described for two cycles. My current issue seems to be adding on weight (which has never been a problem.) I'll likely bump up to 2500 calories and see if that helps. I can tell my strength gains are slowing and likely need to add weight to keep pace. My irrational fear is that I'll wake up one day and suddenly be overweight again.

Good luck.
October 9, 2012 12:37 PM
QUOTE:

I am curious about a post in a different thread about caloric maintenance and increasing muscle fiber (hyperplasia). A bit of background, my start weight was 182 lbs, my current weight is 165 lbs - I'm 5'11 and probably about 12-15% bodyfat. Once I hit my goal weight (165) I started to do some strength training - mostly in the form of pullups and pushups (but some other exercises as well). I have maintained caloric balance for about 90 days (3 mos) and managed to increase my pullups from 3 to 10 (I do multiple sets throughout the day so I might do 35-50 in a workout day....) and pushups from 10 to 25 (I do about 150 every other day). So, I definitely have gotten stronger by any measure (10 pullups isn't so bad...). And, visually speaking, I have gained noticeable amounts of size (hypertrophy) in my chest, shoulders and back. I'll also say that I have not undertaken resistance training for quite some time - but I was able to do 12 pullups in the last three years and probably 40 pushups. I figure I will hit a plateau at some point and will have to eat more to gain more mass. Is it possible to know if these gains in size are simply hypertrophy (muscle cells getting bigger) or hyperplasia (more muscle cells)? In the other thread the post said that in caloric deficit it is likely that the person is simply "repair[ing] atrophied muscle [and causing] them to fill up with glycogen." This doesn't seem quite right to me - but I may be naive. Either way, the strength gains are real. Do I care (or should I care) whether the gains are hypertrophy or hyperplasia anyway? Any advice?

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hyperplasia


5'11 and 165? I'd suggest eating MUCH MUCH MUCH more and gaining some more muscle! Not trying to be mean but I really think you would do yourself a favor to gain more mass.
October 9, 2012 12:39 PM
QUOTE:

Uke - Similar situation here. 5'10" at 156 lbs. I started maintenance 27 August @ 157 lbs and have averaged 2200 NET calories since. Three weeks prior to that I started a heavy lifting routine while running twice weekly. Somehow I'm down a pound (weekly average of daily weighings) while slowly ramping up caloric intake (2300 in the past week). Using the Bailey method, I've dropped 2% BF (13 to 11) since starting maintenance.

My plan is to bulk/cut using the 15/10 method you've described for two cycles. My current issue seems to be adding on weight (which has never been a problem.) I'll likely bump up to 2500 calories and see if that helps. I can tell my strength gains are slowing and likely need to add weight to keep pace. My irrational fear is that I'll wake up one day and suddenly be overweight again.

Good luck.


being too skinny (from an aesthetic standpoint) is probably WORSE than having a bit too much fat. 2500 calories is not even really BULKING for most males. I have a friend here (sergeantsunshine) who is a small female and is eating 2200 calories TO LOSE just to give you an idea.

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