T Nation

Losing hypertrophy

I have a goal which is probably counter to most people on this forum. I’m an athlete where relative strength is important and am interested in losing around 10 pounds of muscle.

I’m currently 27, 6’3, 219 pounds, approx. 8% bf. Bench 315ish lbs, squat 405ish lbs, deadlift 405ish lbs, clean 245ish lbs. I’m not interested in losing anymore bodyfat since I’ve noticed in the past that I’ve lost performance when my bodyfat gets too low. I’ve just recently decided to start competing again and have been doing mostly bodybuilding workouts the last few years (i.e. higher volume, higher time under tension, and higher reps).

The sport I compete in is the decathlon where the typical athlete my height is around 195 lbs so I’m relatively over muscular for the event, which does have an impact on performance.

At the moment my weight training is composed of very low volume, low reps, and short tempos but it still doesn’t seem to be helping me lose any muscle.

An example of my current weight training is, once a week

Bench press variation, 1 x 3
chin variation, 1 x 3
bent over row variation, 1 x 3
shoulder press variation, 1 x 3
Hip flexion variation, 1 x 3
Hip extension variation, 1 x 3
Clean/snatch variation, 1 x 3
These exercises are all done with between 3 to 5 secounds time under tension for the set. So this equates to around 7 total working sets per week!

I eat a zonish diet, and have tried to lower my caloric intake by about 500 to 1000 calories below maintence per day for the last month but the hypertrophy hasn’t budged. I also partake in tempo runs at around 60 to 75% 30 sec run, 30 sec walk for around 20 min. 3 times per week.

For any people that aren’t familiar with the decathlon. It’s 10 events composed of running, jumping, and throwing to determine who’s the best overall athlete over two days.

First day: 100m, long jump, shot put, high jump, and 400m
Secound day: 110m hurdles, discus, pole vault, javelin, and 1500m

I understand 1 month of weight loss is not very long but I do gain muscle very easily, and have always had trouble keeping my hypertrophy down when I competed in the past.

Any ideas would be appreciated. Thanks.

Why would you think your performance will improve if you lose muscle?

6’3 and 219 is not excessively muscular. Your training has been incorrect, that is all. You say you’ve spent the last while doing bodybuilding training. This is your problem. You’ve trained the wrong type of capacities necessary for your sport. Start training correctly and things should start to take care of themselves. Don’t try to lose muscle, your performance will suffer not improve.

Thanks for the input. Even when I wasn’t doing bodybuilding training in the past and doing low rep sets my bodyweight was still considered high at 210 - 215 lbs.

And the extra bodyweight actually does make a big difference when trying to run a 4:30 1500m. That’s why all the specialists are built like rails. Extra muscle also matters when you look at relative strength. You’re a lot faster when you’re the same strength but 20 lbs lighter. Ben Johnson only weighed around 175 lbs. If he weighed 220 lbs I doubt he would’ve ran a 9.79 even if he was much much stronger. His numbers of 600 x 6 in the squat, and over 400 in the bench press, on a 175 pound frame is what helped his amazing performances.

That’s the thing with the decathlon though. The extra weight may help with the throws where absolute strength is important but for the rest of the events it will impair performance. That’s why most world class decathletes at 6’3 are around 185 to 200 lbs.

I would suggest running a lot. If you want to improve on your 1500m, then run a lot of 1500’s. This should help to “change” your body the way that you want it too.

Also, you should try focusing on dynamic lifts instead of straight heavy strength lifts if you aren’t already. Continue to do olympic lifts like cleans, snatches, and push presses, but also focus on speed for your bench, squats, and deadlifts. You can also vary your grip and stances to get more variety.

I dug up some stats on the top 10 all time performances for the decathlon, and calculated the athletes BMI’s. I found that the average was around 25, ranging between 24 and 26. The current WR holder Roman Sebrle is 6’1 and 193 pounds, with a BMI of 25.5. Dan O’Brien the former WR holder which some of you may remember from the Dan and Dave commercials circa 1992 had a BMI of 23.8, being 6’2 and 185 lbs.

Therefore for me to have a BMI between 24 and 26, I would ideally weigh around 192-208 pounds. That is assuming I have the ideal body to compete in a decathlon. But who’s ideal right?

For any of you that may be interested in the performances of the “world’s greatest athlete”, this is the current WR, 9026 pts

100m 10.64
LJ 8.11m
SP 15.33m (16 pound shot)
HJ 2.12m
400m 47.79
110mh 13.92 (42")
Disc 47.92m (2k disc)
PV 4.80m
Jav 70.16m (800g jav)
1500m 4:21.98

It’s apparent not too many people have much input/expertise in regards to losing muscle, since most people I gather here would be interested in the opposite on this site. Perhaps charlie francis would be a better resource. Unless CW or CT have anything to add.

You will have a hard time convincing bodybuilders that losing muscle is a good thing. However, I see your point, and what you really want to do is train your CNS, and strenghten your connective tissue. You will lose some of what we in the powerlifting world call superficial muscle mass. My answer to that is SINGLES…lots and lots of singles. They target the CNS and the connective tissue quite well. The key is a). not going so heavy that you injure yourself, and b). cycling your sets and reps intelligently. I’ve had a lot of luck combining the principles of triple progression with russian style volume cycling. PM me if you are interested. Best,