Hypertrophy for sensible training effect? Plus strength vs weight.

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  • #6979

    Hi there guys,

    Just starting out with TNA, getting into base strength training after a couple of weeks transitioning and reading the book. I’m really excited about learning how to train properly now that my climbing and mountaineering interests are driven by steeper, longer and harder objectives. In support to your training methods, I’m also watching a lot of videos about anatomy, warming up, stretching, correct body positioning for the upcoming compound exercises, diet, etc.

    I’ve recently watched a video discussing a 45-second threshold referring to studies that showed that if you spend less time on doing a set of 10-12 reps, you won’t elicit the hypertrophy to result in the gains you’re looking for. It would mean doing fairly slow reps to surpass 45 seconds per set. The author of the channel (a respected athlete coach and physical therapist), also stresses to have muscle failure drive the rep range instead of the number your training schedule tells you to do.

    My questions:
    1) Did you find doing 10-12 slow reps (45-60 seconds) per set result in more muscle gain at all?
    2) How much muscle gain should we, as strength-endurance athletes, look for before getting too heavy? Where’s the optimum? (I’m 1,73m at 63 kgs right now, looking to get stronger for ice climbing and up my fitness for mountaineering)
    3) What should drive our rep range in the TNA base strength period, the schedule saying ‘do 10 reps per set’, or muscle failure? How much hypertrophy should we aim for?



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    Anonymous on #7036


    Hypertrophy is something to be avoided by climbers, runners, skimo and mountaineers in 99% of cases. Going to muscular failure is one of the best ways to ensure hypertrophy. That is very well understood and has been a staple of strength training for many decades. Another good way to increase muscle mass is using eccentric contractions under heavy loading.

    In our general strength training we never suggest going to failure or anywhere near it for this reason. The one exception when we might suggest pushing to failure is in hand strength training for climbing.

    The general strength period is a conditioning period to prepare you for the Max strength period.

    The best mountain athletes are slightly muscled so that can have a high strength to weight ratio. These mountain athletes do not need exception strength levels (except rock or ice/mixed climbers) And the especially do not want to add any muscle mass Strength to weight ratio is what is important.

    bear in mind that much of what comes from the strength and conditioning world is not direct at athletes and especially not at endurance athletes.


    hwesterhof on #7043


    No, I indeed don’t want to gain much muscle mass!

    So, to avoid hypertrophy, what level of tiredness should I aim for after 10 reps in Base training: should I theoretically be able to do another 2, 3, 4 reps? When I get to training Max strength, should your program of 4 reps per exercise leave me unable to perform a 5th to do a set, or should I have some reserve there as well?

    I have gained some 3-4 pounds already during the last 8 weeks transitioning abd starting base training while NOT going to muscular failure (diet and work and the rest of my life have remained the same). Is it natural to gain some kgs, does that stop at a certain point during the training program? Is there a rule of thumb to find my optimum between getting stronger and getting too heavy?

    Thanks, Harmen.

    Anonymous on #7116

    To avoid hypertrophy do not do a high volume of sets where you go to total muscular failure and do not do a high volume of negatives (eccentric contractions).

    Max strength protocols like we recommend typically use a weight/resistance that is about 85-90% of your max and does sub max number of reps (2-4 typically), not going to failure. As mentioned in our book, a max strength workout should leave you feeling invigorated not exhausted. You should get stronger with each set. Hypertrophic training is exhausting work and you get more fatigued with each set.

    As for weight gain. Genetics plays a big role here. Some people gain muscle mass very easily. Some people who are especially lightly muscled who have little strength training background, can see weight gain even with and strength training program. So it is impossible to answer this question. Strength gains that improve your performance are a good thing regardless of they add mass or not. Strength gains that add mass without a performance gain are not so desirable.


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