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Neural Adaption and Hypertrophy

So as I understand it, hypertrophy is the body’s lazy way of dealing with stress on muscles, as opposed to increasing neural efficiency. The body ‘greases the groove’, neurally gets used to the movement, during the first 2 weeks or so of doing a new exercise. That explains the immediate surge in strength during that time, whereas the ‘real’ strength gains occur mostly after that.

So is the quickest way to cause hypertrophy to stimulate the muscle without allowing for neural adaption(often changing set/rep scheme, exercises, etc,)?

Sorry man but I have to say it:

Oh SHIT

OK, now that that’s over. Hypertrophy is not the body’s lazy way of adapting, because adding muscle is an imbalance of homeostasis and requires a lot of resources. Neural adaptation can happen in a matter of minutes. I have been unable to do a certain weight for lockouts, done some singles a little lighter-still heavy-and gone up 30-50 pounds over what I failed at before.

Now, I would say that generally muscle gained is longer lasting the higher the load used to build it over a long period of time, but muscle lost which was gained from high reps tends to come back quicker, and neural adaptation tends to facilitate hypertrophy training by allowing higher loads. That said, my model is to focus on overall neural adaptations, and to use short focus periods of higher reps on 1-2 focus muscles at a time to bring them up to the next level. They may shrink when you cut back, but they will quickly come back even larger the next time.

Others will disagree and argue that training should be a linear progression.

[quote]XCelticX wrote:
So as I understand it, hypertrophy is the body’s lazy way of dealing with stress on muscles, as opposed to increasing neural efficiency. The body ‘greases the groove’, neurally gets used to the movement, during the first 2 weeks or so of doing a new exercise. That explains the immediate surge in strength during that time, whereas the ‘real’ strength gains occur mostly after that.

So is the quickest way to cause hypertrophy to stimulate the muscle without allowing for neural adaption(often changing set/rep scheme, exercises, etc,)?[/quote]

Don’t make this overly complicated. First, if you are doing the same exercise, neural adaptation has already occured. Your body isn’t a stupid machine. It catches on quickly. Think of it like this…as a baby, much of the fumbling around is because as the mind develops, the body tries to find the right neural stimulation to provide the desired physical response. Once an action that allows the desired movement is learned, it is then “hardwired” into the child’s brain for easy access later. This ability to “neurally learn” pathways when performing tasks is why those in severe accidents who lose the ability to function as before can often regain control of the lost action by allowing their brains to find an alternate neural pathway to get the same job done.

Hypertrophy is your body’s response to stress. Given a new task, it attempts to learn it the most efficient way possible (why doing the same aerobic activity over time can eventually lead to less calories burned…the body discovers a “cheaper” way to get the job done). The only thing that can cause further stress once an activity is learned is to increase the stimulus, not necessarily replace the action.

That means the best way to cause further growth is to increase the weight, the rep range or both provided that you are eating enough to promote further growth. Your body won’t waste calories on muscle growth if you are barely providing enough for it to continue to run efficiently. That makes the weight+calories the most effective variables you can tinker with to see further growth.

Ok, but it is possible for a lifter to adapt neurally without hypertrophy(lighter weight classes in strength events). Is that as a result of calorie intake only, or their rep/set schemes? I’m guessing both

[quote]XCelticX wrote:
Ok, but it is possible for a lifter to adapt neurally without hypertrophy(lighter weight classes in strength events). Is that as a result of calorie intake only, or their rep/set schemes? I’m guessing both[/quote]

Both. You won’t grow unless the calories are there. You can’t build something out of nothing. If they ate more, they would get bigger. I use low reps and I gain size from it. I also eat to gain size. It really isn’t that complicated…at least no where near the way some people try to make it seem.

This is a good discussion. My question is this: Is the strength gained from neural adaptation “real” strength? Let me clarify. I hate to use the word “functional” because no one knows what the hell it means anymore, but if someone did a “grease the groove” routine for the deadlift that focused primarily on neural adaptation and became a really efficient DLer, would that strength carry over (there’s another phrase I hate to use – “carry over”) into other activities?

My guess is that there is a point of diminishing returns. I 165 lb. person who can pull 600 is obviously “strong,” but put that person head to head in a strongman contest with a 200 lb. person where the implements are awkward, and the more muscular person will have an edge. My assumptions are that neither person has had any prior training with the implements in question and the 200 lb. person’s extra weight is not all fat.

[quote]MikeTheBear wrote:
This is a good discussion. My question is this: Is the strength gained from neural adaptation “real” strength? Let me clarify. I hate to use the word “functional” because no one knows what the hell it means anymore, but if someone did a “grease the groove” routine for the deadlift that focused primarily on neural adaptation and became a really efficient DLer, would that strength carry over (there’s another phrase I hate to use – “carry over”) into other activities?[/quote]

Yes, neural adaptation is “real strength” and does carry over into other activities indirectly. Someone who can bench press 300lbs and squat 400lbs will probably be able to push a car down the street much easier than someone untrained, even if they carry the same amount of muscle tissue. Bodybuilding, regardless of what many would have you believe, does not create some unfunctional beast who can barely carry groceries in from the store by themselves. My guess is, while Ronnie Coleman may not be able to run after you very fast, he can damn sure pick your ass up and toss you several feet as target practice.

Your question should have been, “does neural adaptation lead to real growth”, and the answer is, “not always”.

A agree with Prof X that hypertrophy is not linear, that it can happen rapidly in very short spurts. This is one of the reasons that I disagree that you should attempt to progress your training linearly. We do agree that heavy training is important though. I am not in to professional bodybuilding now, but I will still say that some bodybuilders have stood out. Haney, Yates and Coleman in my opinion are the only three successful Olympia competitors of the last 15 years who deserve more than a passing look and they ALL trained with some heavy power moves AND used some contrast in their training.

To be specific, Haney’s only real training philosophy was to pair an explosive movement like bent rows with a strict movement like pulldowns for each bodypart. Yates varied his training between periods in the 8-12 rep range and as low as the 4-6 rep range and used usually equal amounts of heavy compound and isolation movements. Coleman specifically says that he splits the week into 3 days of heavy power moves (granted for 6-12 reps usually, but sometimes only 2-3 reps) and 3 days of stricter shaping movements. Non of these guys wasted time on nproductive exercises, so that’s not the issue, the thing that separated their training from the rest was a basically equal balance of heavy compound power moves with looser form and somewhat lighter stricter but high intensity isolation sets.

I don’t want to debate Prof X here, I just want to provide what may be a contrasting opinion to the linear progression model. Your body does not grow linearly and so I don’t think you should train linearly UNLESS you are still getting the results you want that way.