Physical Culture

Supersize Me!

With the goal of 48 Jerks and 45+45 Snatches in the books, I’ve decided to step away from Girevoy Sport for a bit and focus on sheer brute strength and size.  The challenge:  pack at least 5 lbs of functional muscle on my frame.

Why the emphasis on functional?  I want to put on some mass, but this is not an exercise in bodybuilding.  I want size, but I also want a commensurate increase in strength.  For many, this might seem like a given, but as I’ll explain below, this is not always the case.

When we speak of muscle-gain we are talking about a process called hypertrophy.  There are two types of muscle hypertrophy:

Sarcoplasmic Hypertrophy:  The primary form of hypertrophy found in bodybuilding-type sets and rep schemes, this form is distinguished by the growth of sarcoplasm and noncontractile proteins.

Myofibrillar Hypertrophy:  Enlargement of the muscle fiber with increased filament density.  This is the form of muscle growth more often seen among serious athletes and brings with it an increase in strength, explosiveness, etc.

Hypertrophy is typically not all one or the other.  Bodybuilders are not simply puffed up balls of fluid, they are typically very strong.  However, in general a 220 lbs competitive powerlifter will be much stronger than a 220 lbs competitive bodybuilder.  I feel that the fear that putting on mass and remaining “functional” (an already overused buzzword) is definitely trumped up though, and that a lot of good can come of a mass-gaining initiative as long as one trains smart.

In a nutshell, the human body only ever responds specifically to an imposed stimulus.  Tell your body that it needs to get stronger and it will.  If your body can get the job done in its current configuration, don’t expect it to change.  My gamble is that I can put on 5 lbs of muscle by focusing on big lifts that hit the entire body.  With that in mind, I took a trip to the Punch Kettlebell Gym in St. Pete, Florida and Justin Keen, head trainer put me through a brutal workout consisting of the following:

  • A series of heavy deadlifts ending with a couple backoff sets after two triples of 275 lbs (at a bodyweight of 132 lbs, a new personal record!)
  • Three sets of heavy kettlebell seated presses using double 20kgs and then a single 24kg
  • Finishing up with a few sets of ring flyes and bent over rows

I’m going to come in again later in the week and hit a big set of squats.  Should be an interesting journey.  The other half of this equation is recovery, so I’m going to be hitting the shower right now and then the sack.  Goodnight all!

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One thought on “Supersize Me!

  1. Pingback: Progress and Regression: A Look Back « The Online Home of the IronDisciple

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