T Nation

Muscle changes

Okay, I’m getting near my strength goals. Now I find my main limiting factor (in day-to-day strength feats) is endurance. Like others, I like being strong, but I don’t want to fatigue so quickly. What I’ve done is found a “nice” weight in my exercises {most of these are what I think my 4 rep max will be in two months}, and what I would like to do is make my 4 rep max into a 20 rep max. I’ve got a few ideas for how to do so, and I don’t think I need to post them - they’re just various 6 week routines. My question for you scientist types is this: What changes will occur to my physiology by focusing on increasing my rep range? Will my muscles get harder? Will they get bigger? I don’t really want to get much bigger, but I want to be brutally strong in day-to-day activities compared to the common man.

For example: Suppose my bench max is 225lbsx4 {a nice psychological barrier}, and I build it up to a 20 reps. Suppose I do this for many bodyparts. I'm currently 180 at 12%. What do you think will happen to those muscles? I know that 8-12 reps is hypertrophy range. We also know that 20 reps in endurance range. So, what are the predictions? {Imagine the grip power you'd have doing 20 reps of chinups with weight attached!!!}

If you are able to accomplish your goals, you will become significantly bigger. This type of training sounds like a different stimulus than what you have been doing and thus you should respond well. Your muscles are going to explode in size. You will test all muscle fiber types for this type of training and they will be forced to grow. Good luck with your goal. It sounds very reasonable, but you need to expect to gain size on this kind of high volume work. Keep carbs and protein high during this kind of work.

Well, I know that the muscles will get decently bigger when I’m pushing from the 7 -> 13 rep envelope. I mean, that’s going to take some time. But will the 14->20 distance (a few more months, at least) reduce the muscle sizes because it’s endurance training? The closest thing I can associate this is with long-distance sprinting. What are their legs like?

Many people still are able to hypertrophy in the 12-20 rep range. Many mass gaining programs have been buile around the 20 rep set of breathing squats for instance. You may experience a slight drop in muscle size during that time due to glycogen depletion from high rep work. Also, you will hopefully tap into the fast oxidative-glycolytic (intermediate fibers) and get them to respond. As for the slow twitch fibers, they may or may not hypertropy and changes in these fibers will likely be insignificant. Aside from likely hypertrophy in this range (12-20), you will also increase capillilarization (sp?) to the muscle. More blood flow capabilities is a good thing and when you return to more traditional training (<12 reps/set), you will be set up for great gains.

I agree with Jason - You’ll get hypertrophy without much strength increase which is what it sounds like you want. You won’t get smaller as long as you get proper recovery. Don’t do another high rep indurance session until you’ve completely recovered from previous. Your muscles should be forced to store more glycogen (which is what you need for indurance)and get bigger pumps.

Thanks guys. Actually, I’m looking to get stronger, but “real-life” stronger and not gym stronger. I’m not too interested in putting on much more size, just changing what I’ve got into quality.
One more question. What type of exercise makes a muscle most insulin receptive? Endurance work? Maximum weight work? Please.

Muscular endurance work and aerobic activity will help with overall insulin sensitivity. Heavy lifting does not do much in the way of insulin sensitivity.