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

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Old 04-13-2011, 11:08 AM   #1
Todd R Miller
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Gaining strength, but not adding bodyweight

I'm curious: what strategies do competitive oly lifters and powerlifters use when trying to maximize strength gains but stay within a given weight class? It seems to me that these athletes are able to make significant strength gains throughout their careers without packing on additonal bodyweight. It also seems that these are the athletes who maximize their strength to weight ratio.

I assume that they avoid excessive hypertrophy. Do they see-saw between going over weight and then cutting back to weight, or is there too much danger in not being able to get back down to weight? Are ALL their strength gains due to nueral adaptations and improved skill with the given lifts?

Also, are there ways to determine if an athlete is in their optimal weight class? This is probably a very hard question to answer, but when would it be better to move up in weight, or drop down?
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Old 04-13-2011, 11:23 AM   #2
Katherine Derbyshire
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Re: Gaining strength, but not adding bodyweight

I would say the optimum weight class would be the one where you are approximately the same height as the other lifters. Because of leverage, being shorter than your class is more advantageous than being taller. (This is also why weightlifters tend to be short and stocky.)

Katherine
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Old 04-13-2011, 11:29 AM   #3
Todd R Miller
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Re: Gaining strength, but not adding bodyweight

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Originally Posted by Katherine Derbyshire View Post
I would say the optimum weight class would be the one where you are approximately the same height as the other lifters.
Katherine
Thanks Katherine. Ok, you can guess my follow-up question: Are there any stats/charts that show avg heights per weight class? Are they different for oly lifters vs. powerlifters?
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Old 04-13-2011, 11:32 AM   #4
Shane Skowron
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Re: Gaining strength, but not adding bodyweight

Quote:
Originally Posted by Todd R Miller View Post
I'm curious: what strategies do competitive oly lifters and powerlifters use when trying to maximize strength gains but stay within a given weight class? It seems to me that these athletes are able to make significant strength gains throughout their careers without packing on additonal bodyweight. It also seems that these are the athletes who maximize their strength to weight ratio.

I assume that they avoid excessive hypertrophy. Do they see-saw between going over weight and then cutting back to weight, or is there too much danger in not being able to get back down to weight? Are ALL their strength gains due to nueral adaptations and improved skill with the given lifts?

Also, are there ways to determine if an athlete is in their optimal weight class? This is probably a very hard question to answer, but when would it be better to move up in weight, or drop down?
Very low reps, and don't overeat.

The Olympic lifts aren't very good for hypertrophy anyway so it's harder to get huge doing snatches vs. deadlifting, for example.

You could check the heights of the best lifters in your weight class and if they are consistently shorter than you, then you probably need to move up a weight class.

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Originally Posted by Katherine Derbyshire View Post
(This is also why weightlifters tend to be short and stocky.)
I'm not sure on what you base that.
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Old 04-13-2011, 11:45 AM   #5
Veronica Carpenter
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Re: Gaining strength, but not adding bodyweight

We normally try to train a few lbs over our weightclass limit. I'd say ~5% over the class limit at the most. So, if I want to be in the 48K class, I'd train close to 50k and cut the last 2k the week before the meet. The last bit (maybe ~2%) is from dehydration 24hrs prior to weighing in.

Strength gain doesn't necessarily mean weight gain or hypertrophy, unless you're in a calorie surplus.

I'm not sure if there is any height/weight stats chart out there. But we come in all shapes and sizes in each class. ;-) Obviously the shorter athletes with better levers have some advantage over taller, lankier athletes. On the elite level, though you'll generally see shorter statured athletes.
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Old 04-13-2011, 11:53 AM   #6
Veronica Carpenter
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Re: Gaining strength, but not adding bodyweight

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Originally Posted by Shane Skowron View Post
You could check the heights of the best lifters in your weight class and if they are consistently shorter than you, then you probably need to move up a weight class.
It's not so much about height. But also about a speed. If you don't feel your fastest at a heavier weight, you might be better off staying lighter.
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Old 04-13-2011, 12:10 PM   #7
Todd R Miller
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Re: Gaining strength, but not adding bodyweight

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Originally Posted by Veronica Carpenter View Post
We normally try to train a few lbs over our weightclass limit.
Thank you Veronica. When you are training over weight, do you do anything to try and gain muscle mass, ie hypertrophy?
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Old 04-13-2011, 12:33 PM   #8
Veronica Carpenter
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Re: Gaining strength, but not adding bodyweight

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Originally Posted by Todd R Miller View Post
Thank you Veronica. When you are training over weight, do you do anything to try and gain muscle mass, ie hypertrophy?
No, since our goal isn't hypertrophy. It's just strength and power.
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Old 04-13-2011, 12:57 PM   #9
Todd R Miller
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Re: Gaining strength, but not adding bodyweight

I found this study of elite oly lifters between 1993 and 1997:
http://jap.physiology.org/content/89/3/1061.full (wfs)

It is a bit beyond me, but I found this paragraph to be interesting.

"Body-weight-limited weightlifting requires that as much body weight as possible be devoted to the relevant muscles and that all other tissue be minimized. Among similarly conditioned athletes, those with thicker muscles will lift more weight; among minimally obese lifters, those with thicker muscles should have larger mean cross-sectional areas, defined as body weight divided by height."

Wouldn't "thicker muscles" and "larger mean cross-sectional areas" indicate that some amount of hypertrophy must be obtained, and therefore addressed in training? I also take it that "all other tissue be minimized" is referring to fat.
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Old 04-13-2011, 01:11 PM   #10
Veronica Carpenter
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Re: Gaining strength, but not adding bodyweight

Of course there will be some hypertrophy, but we're not strength training for sarcoplasmic hypertrophy and yes it is addressed in training. Oly athletes train in the 1-3 rep range typically and only occasionally train in the 4-5 rep range early on in a training cycle.
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