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Fitness Theory and Practice. CrossFit's rationale & foundations. Who is fit? What is fitness?

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Old 01-31-2011, 09:45 AM   #1
Arturo Garcia
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Out of curiosity: can you get big without training specifically for strength?

Lately I've been giving this a lot of thought. I am currently doing a strength program, so don't hate me for just asking this.

I've noticed on these boards that a lot of people who do mainpage WODs eventually want to get bigger/stronger. These people switch to a strength program and magically gain mass. But it appears they also increase their food intake drastically. So I guess my question is: could they have gotten bigger by increasing their caloric intake without switching to a strength program?

In fact, I have another question. I'm going to sound like a complete fool but please be easy on me as it's an honest question. Say someone isn't interested in strength but just a bit of size. Would exercises that aren't even close to their 5RM or anything, still promote muscle growth? I mean, say someone starts repping dips and pull-ups and handstand push-upsand ring rows, etc... moves that can be done for high reps.. if one eats at a caloric excess, will this type of training not lead to "getting big?". Mind you I'm not talking bodybuilder big. But I wonder if there is a limit where this type of training stops making you bigger. Like, maybe a scrawny kid can get up to 15 inch arms (or "TeH GuNZ"!!) from this, but if he eats the right stuff and in the right ammount, can he get to 17" from this? And I'm not talking just arms, it was just an example as it's one of the most commonly measured body parts amongst people who want to "get big". (No, I don't measure mine...)

I guess I ask this because I like bodyweight training so much more than barbells for the upper body... but at the same time I don't want to be skinny but would like to hover at at least 200# (I'm 5'10").

I expect some of you to dislike my post, but please save the "why would you want to get bigger? it's getting stronger that matters" comments. Only looking for positive and friendly answers.

Last edited by Arturo Garcia; 01-31-2011 at 09:49 AM..
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Old 01-31-2011, 09:54 AM   #2
Katherine Derbyshire
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Re: Out of curiosity: can you get big without training specifically for strength?

What does "big" mean? A scrawny kid will add muscle by looking at a barbell, basically, because he's starting from such a low level. But he'll need a more focused program to look like a bodybuilder.

Using bodyweight stuff for the upper body will make you look like a gymnast. Which is something I personally would appreciate but not necessarily what I'd call "big."

Eating lots of calories will certainly make you bigger, but unless you train appropriately for that intake, it'll just be in the form of fat.

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Old 01-31-2011, 10:05 AM   #3
Rebecca Roth
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Re: Out of curiosity: can you get big without training specifically for strength?

Here is an interesting chart for you. I think "big" is somewhat relative in your query, but based on this unless you are able to keep challenging yourself at the appropriate level you should be able to continue gains. So at least in theory if you were to start with basic bodyweight movements and as they become easier you use a weighted vest or something to continue to progress, you coulod potentially continue to see gains with dietary consideration.
http://www.mensjournal.com/wp-conten...icture-211.jpg (wfs)
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Old 01-31-2011, 10:15 AM   #4
Larry Hotchkiss
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Re: Out of curiosity: can you get big without training specifically for strength?

Your probably going to want to stay in the 8-12 rep range if your goal is pure hypertrophy, if your doing more than that with bodyeight exercises add weight to them. Also if you want to get big, your going to need to move some big weights via compound movements that use your largest muscles like deadlifts and squats. They trigger hormonal responses that benefit the whole body.
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Old 01-31-2011, 11:59 AM   #5
Richard Lee Sattro
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Re: Out of curiosity: can you get big without training specifically for strength?

Well if you want size then just go with a bodybuilding program. To get big you have eat more and lift heavy. If you are weak then you need to gain some strength to get the most out of those programs. Some examples of this is Madcow5x5, 20 Rep squats (aka squats and milk),and GVT these all seem to work.

If you want to gain size and strength, and speed. I would go with Crossfit Football. This program is designed with football players in mind. This program is what I would recommend to people your age who want to become bigger.
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Old 01-31-2011, 12:39 PM   #6
Arturo Garcia
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Re: Out of curiosity: can you get big without training specifically for strength?

Thanks for the replies folks, but just to clear some stuff up:

I wasn't refering to me when I gave the example of scrawny kids. I'm 27 and was 192 or so last time I stepped on a scale nearly two weeks ago. Been doing Justin Lascek's program for about 7 weeks now.

Let me try and be more specific. I hope the people I'm gonna mention are OK with me selecting them as examples.

Tamara Cohen, from the forums, got very lean and ripped and said she was about 130# or so. She later posted pics of her at about 143# or so, looked bigger (better also, IMO) and she said she had been strength training. BUT... she also mentioned somewhere she had to eat peanut butter straight from the jar with a spoon at times, to reach the caloric demands. So my question is: couldn't she have gotten just as big, by just upping the calories and continue a workout program that doesn't have you working with 5RMs and 3RMs and 1RMs?

The other person I'm gonna choose for an example is also another poster from here, and just like Tamara, very different from my own build. Steven Low: he had posted videos of him doing a 1RM dip with like 185# added pounds. But he's like 130. I bet he can dip himself forever. My question is... he's skinny, if he EATS for mass gain and all he does are dips, pull-ups, and other moves he might be able to do for 20, 30 or 40 reps... just how "big" would you guys estimate he'd get? Supossing he eats at a caloric surplus all the time that has he gaining, say, 6 pounds per month. How big would he get before those exercises stop promoting muscle mass gain and he starts just gaining fat from eating a surplus and doing those same moves?

By the way, I was also unclear on what I consider big enough. I did state I'd like to hover at around 200#... so I'm guessing a Khalipa look, or a Rob Orlando look, is big enough.

Khatierine: gymnasts have great physiques, my question would apply to them too. Say a 145# gymnast eats in a caloric surplus to gain muscle mass, but all he does are endless sets of some sort of rows, HSPU, dips, pull-ups... and lets say max effort hills sprints and flat sprints for legs, with maybe some other stuff thrown there but no heavy barbell work. Is all the mass he's gonna add gonna be FAT because he's working well within his strength levels?
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Old 01-31-2011, 03:16 PM   #7
Katherine Derbyshire
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Re: Out of curiosity: can you get big without training specifically for strength?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Arturo Garcia View Post
Khatierine: gymnasts have great physiques, my question would apply to them too. Say a 145# gymnast eats in a caloric surplus to gain muscle mass, but all he does are endless sets of some sort of rows, HSPU, dips, pull-ups... and lets say max effort hills sprints and flat sprints for legs, with maybe some other stuff thrown there but no heavy barbell work. Is all the mass he's gonna add gonna be FAT because he's working well within his strength levels?
If the weight being used is very light relative to the person's strength, then it's no longer a strength exercise, it's an endurance exercise. Endurance exercises don't promote muscle growth, they promote endurance adaptations. So your hypothetical gymnast won't necessarily get fat, but he won't get any stronger, either. (What actual gymnasts do is work their way up to progressively more difficult exercises.)

I'm not sure why you insist on differentiating between strength and size. What's the point of having big muscles if they *aren't* strong?

Katherine
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Old 01-31-2011, 03:45 PM   #8
Jordan Derksen
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Re: Out of curiosity: can you get big without training specifically for strength?

Well, to ask a question back at you do you think gymnasts are 'big'? They don't even know what barbells are. If you really want to keep challenging yourself then just make sure what you're doing is still challenging.
Yes, cleans, snatches, deads and the like are all good for gaining mass and size, but it's not the only way. It just tends to be the easiest because it seems like it's most rewarding mostly due to the fact you can physically see the weights you're adding on each week. However, you can get that way simply doing gymnastics routines as well, though you can never attain the same size it's not a concern because you said you didn't want to be too big. Just make sure when something gets to easy and you can hit 20 reps of it you switch it out for something more challenging. HSPU too easy? Do em on the rings. Dips too easy? Again, on the rings. Pullups to easy? Make em chest to bar all the time. Still too easy? Start doing bar muscle ups. With creativity you can scale mainsite WOD's to be harder and bias them to certain areas you wanna work. Scaling isn't just for those that are weak. Although honestly, mainsite is really challenging as is.
The main point is though, eating more doesn't make you bigger, if that was true America wouldn't be fat. What you need to do is stimulate hormones that will use the extra food you eat to turn into muscle mass. It's all about the stimulus and without boring you with the science ultimately getting your body to release more androgens. The reason people hit strength programs is because it's a easy measurable way to stimulate yourself. Aaand the reason people hit the roids is because their balls don't work, so they need a horse to do the work for them.
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Old 01-31-2011, 06:29 PM   #9
Chris Mason
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Re: Out of curiosity: can you get big without training specifically for strength?

If you are asking if you can get bigger from main site WODs by simply increasing caloric intake the answer is possibly. It depends on your relative level of development and if your current intake is limiting the addition of lean muscle mass stimulated by your training.

With that said, main site WOD training is not really for adding mass beyond the rote beginner. The stimulation simply isn't geared to that adaptation.
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Old 02-01-2011, 05:34 AM   #10
Adam Carlson
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Re: Out of curiosity: can you get big without training specifically for strength?

Chris, what do you recommend for hypertrophy that has benefit? There are those of us who wouldn't mind getting bigger as long as it is useful mass
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