T Nation

Old Muscle vs. Young Muscle

I kind of know the answer to my question already, so when I’m asking it I will probably wind up answering it while explaining, but I wouldn’t mind if anyone would like to touch on the subject further or add thoughts.

Anyways…

I’ve made a few observations at the gym recently which have reinforced some of the beliefs and principles that I have learned over the years.

Muscle size and strength are directly related to an individual lifter, however, they have nothing to do with eachother when you compare one lifters stats to anothers.

I compare myself to guys at the gym. I glance over and see how much they are lifting, and what kind of exercises they are doing etc, to base how far ahead of the game I am. I’m sure everyone has done/does this.

The biggest conclusion I have made is that, compared to many older guys, I am only 18, I can lift a decent amount more than a lot of guys the same size as me as well as guys bigger than me muscular wise. Now I’m not talking about the guys who look like they belong in the Olympia, but the more general gym population of guys who have probably been going to the gym for ten plus years, and a lot of guys in there early twenties too.

I see guys walking around with ripped 18 inch pipes and I’m using more weight on basically every exercise I do, and I’ll tell you my form is exactly the same as theres.

The conclusion I came to was:

a: The older you get the more dense your muscles will look regardless of your strength increase. ie. I lift the same amount of weight for 15 years straight, my 18 year old muscles will not be as dense as my 33 year old muscles even though I am just as strong.

b: I guess everyone is made different and you shouldn’t underestimate people.

Kind of a rant, but it’s been on my mind lately.

When you get older you fill out. Is that what you’re saying here? Because yeah that seems to be the case in day to day observations for me as well.

i’m 34 and agree about density of muscle it’s probably not so much age, but more so years of lifting, i see guys in their forties and fifties who look like stone and are thick as hell. Density like that comes from years of moving plates.

[quote]That One Guy wrote:
When you get older you fill out. Is that what you’re saying here? Because yeah that seems to be the case in day to day observations for me as well.[/quote]

Yes and I agree with cyruseven75 as it’s more of a years lifting thing.

My main point was I am stronger or stronger than a lot of guys denser than I am. I just felt like muscle maturity comes with time and is not fully reliant on strength and size increases otherwise I would look denser than a bunch of guys at the gym.

About the individual strength thing, I’m pretty weak for my size, and that’s good, I think. I’m not all that big yet, but as an example:
I recently hit 17 inch arms and I curl 90lbs for 3x10 and pushdown something like that too.

Austin, I remember you making that thread when you hit 17 inches and I remember you posting somewhere your curl numbers. I don’t remember what they were, but it was way more than me. No disrespect, just an example.

That’s just one example, but I think it’s good because…

I remember seeing youtube videos posted on here of that guy who’s decently big, but benching like 6 plates. He was the guy jumping over cars and shit.

He’s a big guy, but he’s not winning contests anytime soon. Imagine what kind of strength it’s going to take to get bodybuilder big for him. There’s a video if him squatting like 800 I think. Let’s face it, he’s very likely to fuck up his tendons or something else before he gets very big.

[quote]Artem wrote:
About the individual strength thing, I’m pretty weak for my size, and that’s good, I think. I’m not all that big yet, but as an example:
I recently hit 17 inch arms and I curl 90lbs for 3x10 and pushdown something like that too.

Austin, I remember you making that thread when you hit 17 inches and I remember you posting somewhere your curl numbers. I don’t remember what they were, but it was way more than me. No disrespect, just an example.

That’s just one example, but I think it’s good because…

I remember seeing youtube videos posted on here of that guy who’s decently big, but benching like 6 plates. He was the guy jumping over cars and shit.

He’s a big guy, but he’s not winning contests anytime soon. Imagine what kind of strength it’s going to take to get bodybuilder big for him. There’s a video if him squatting like 800 I think. Let’s face it, he’s very likely to fuck up his tendons or something else before he gets very big.[/quote]

lol I understand your thought process dood but unfortunately thats not the only way it works

yes bigger weights generally leads to bigger muscle, but check this out. I’ve gained almost and inch on my arms and my curl weights only went up 5-10lbs or so.

I guess my point is…you can still grow without having to dramatically bump your weights up.

Most people who are stronger and smaller will make better progress down the long road than somebody bigger and weaker. Anytime your lifting heavier weights for a longer period of time will usually lead to a more impressive physique.

In regaurds to that ‘old man muscle’…from a bodybuilding standpoint this is one of the reasons many pros hit their prime in their 30’s. It’s generally a longer time spent with the iron and I’ve been told the skin getting thinner that gives people that grainy dense Dorian Yates type of muscle.

Maybe it’s more other factors that come in to play in regaurds to looks here than the muscle changing itself.

As far as strength goes…maybe your just strong…lol :stuck_out_tongue_winking_eye:

DG

[quote]Artem wrote:
About the individual strength thing, I’m pretty weak for my size, and that’s good, I think. I’m not all that big yet, but as an example:
I recently hit 17 inch arms and I curl 90lbs for 3x10 and pushdown something like that too.

Austin, I remember you making that thread when you hit 17 inches and I remember you posting somewhere your curl numbers. I don’t remember what they were, but it was way more than me. No disrespect, just an example.

That’s just one example, but I think it’s good because…

I remember seeing youtube videos posted on here of that guy who’s decently big, but benching like 6 plates. He was the guy jumping over cars and shit.

He’s a big guy, but he’s not winning contests anytime soon. Imagine what kind of strength it’s going to take to get bodybuilder big for him. There’s a video if him squatting like 800 I think. Let’s face it, he’s very likely to fuck up his tendons or something else before he gets very big.[/quote]

Are you talking about Brad Castleberry?

I think it just comes down to the thinness of your skin, how tan you are and your body fat % for most of us.

Some people are just genetically gifted with that look and some take years and years to acquire it. Chances are though the same people you are looking at thinking they look dense as hell are doing the same with you.

I was having a little trouble understanding your exact conclusions; however, I think I disagree with you. I was always under the impression that an increased muscle density occurred in males sometime around their 30s/40s and was due to a reduction in muscle volume only.

For example: my dad was a champion wrestler in the 1960s. He weighed 160 and wrestled the super-heavy weight class, so apparently he was a strong dude. Today my dad is about 150lbs. He is 5’11, and due to a number of injuries over the years he has been unable to lift weights aggressively for the last 20 years, though he does still lift. The dude looks small and weak, but he’s a wiry S.O.B and still manages to subdue me on occasion. I am 6’2 and currently weigh around 205.

[quote]waylanderxx wrote:
Chances are though the same people you are looking at thinking they look dense as hell are doing the same with you.[/quote]

Yes, another thing I’ve realized, at least for me, is that I definately view myself as much smaller than people view me. Everyone is usually like oh your looking real big, and I see myself as small, even though I know I’m not, but that is part of the drive to keep you going until you do truly get big.

[quote]BrownTrout wrote:
I was having a little trouble understanding your exact conclusions; however, I think I disagree with you. I was always under the impression that an increased muscle density occurred in males sometime around their 30s/40s and was due to a reduction in muscle volume only.

For example: my dad was a champion wrestler in the 1960s. He weighed 160 and wrestled the super-heavy weight class, so apparently he was a strong dude. Today my dad is about 150lbs. He is 5’11, and due to a number of injuries over the years he has been unable to lift weights aggressively for the last 20 years, though he does still lift. The dude looks small and weak, but he’s a wiry S.O.B and still manages to subdue me on occasion. I am 6’2 and currently weigh around 205. [/quote]

Not exactly what I was saying. Im talking about a non injured male in his thirties/forties who has been makeing consistant gains and so on.

theres a lot of genetic factors too

look at 1MoreRep, he’s 170 at like 5’7 or something and he looks jacked. he doesnt use the heaviest weights, he isnt the heaviest guy but his attachements and muscle shape make him look really big even though hes light.

@the brad castleberry comment -

what do you mean he’s not going to win a contest any time soon?

he took 1st at the 2006 Musclemania in the Junior Class.

im guessing he was like 19 then.

people can argue over that kids video authenticity but fact is hes big and he wins. whether he squats 80 pounds or 800

( i know that doesnt have to do with this thread but i was just reading the stupid ass youtube comments)

[quote]BrownTrout wrote:
I was having a little trouble understanding your exact conclusions; however, I think I disagree with you. I was always under the impression that an increased muscle density occurred in males sometime around their 30s/40s and was due to a reduction in muscle volume only.

For example: my dad was a champion wrestler in the 1960s. He weighed 160 and wrestled the super-heavy weight class, so apparently he was a strong dude. Today my dad is about 150lbs. He is 5’11, and due to a number of injuries over the years he has been unable to lift weights aggressively for the last 20 years, though he does still lift. The dude looks small and weak, but he’s a wiry S.O.B and still manages to subdue me on occasion. I am 6’2 and currently weigh around 205. [/quote]

thats that “old man strength” phenomenon

I guess what I was trying to say was that all men, Heavy lifters or not, experience this densening of the muscles at some point.

Strength is neurological, two people can be exactly the same size and different strengths.

Perhaps these older folks were lifting bigger numbers than you back in the day and have since decided to either ease up/slow down on the weights in order to “refine” their build (using different techniques and methods to focus more on the muscle working rather than jacking up more and more weight)… maybe in an attempt to avoid the wear and tear on the joints/connective tissue that (I hear) plagues many older lifters who continue to lift hard and heavy.

But, I think conclusion ‘B’ sums it up nicely, too.

TBH, I’ve seen people “thicken up a good bit” simply because they lifted “for several years/decades” and get that old man muscle look. Of course they do gain some strength as anyone lifting weights should, but not exactly in leaps and bounds. Of course it will take decades to see any difference.
The best way to thicken up in a relatively short time is of course by gaining a TON of strength in key movements and gaining enough bodyweight to allow that strength gain(s).

I guess that “thickness” is the sign of hard work under the iron (or for some, years spent under the iron) but you can never have enough thickness when you plan to compete.

As DG said, the guy who makes greater strength gains WILL progress faster than the one who doesn;t alls aid and done.
But if you lift hard and heavy for 20-30 years and stay for the most part injury free, one way or the other you’ll be a good bit thicker at the end lol.

[quote]austin_bicep wrote:
I kind of know the answer to my question already, so when I’m asking it I will probably wind up answering it while explaining, but I wouldn’t mind if anyone would like to touch on the subject further or add thoughts.

Anyways…

I’ve made a few observations at the gym recently which have reinforced some of the beliefs and principles that I have learned over the years.

Muscle size and strength are directly related to an individual lifter, however, they have nothing to do with eachother when you compare one lifters stats to anothers.

I compare myself to guys at the gym. I glance over and see how much they are lifting, and what kind of exercises they are doing etc, to base how far ahead of the game I am. I’m sure everyone has done/does this.

The biggest conclusion I have made is that, compared to many older guys, I am only 18, I can lift a decent amount more than a lot of guys the same size as me as well as guys bigger than me muscular wise. Now I’m not talking about the guys who look like they belong in the Olympia, but the more general gym population of guys who have probably been going to the gym for ten plus years, and a lot of guys in there early twenties too.

I see guys walking around with ripped 18 inch pipes and I’m using more weight on basically every exercise I do, and I’ll tell you my form is exactly the same as theres.

The conclusion I came to was:

a: The older you get the more dense your muscles will look regardless of your strength increase. ie. I lift the same amount of weight for 15 years straight, my 18 year old muscles will not be as dense as my 33 year old muscles even though I am just as strong.

b: I guess everyone is made different and you shouldn’t underestimate people.

Kind of a rant, but it’s been on my mind lately.[/quote]

Yes, training age and muscle maturity play a big role on muscle appearance. But the difference between density you’ve noticed may be caused by several variables. The first two are stated on the first sentence, but you said another one “Muscle size and strength are directly related to an individual lifter, however, they have nothing to do with eachother when you compare one lifters stats to anothers”.

So, explaining it from your point of view: these 18"pipe lifters have that amount of size with those strength levels, and have nothing to do with the amount of size you have with relatively superior strength levels. Again, training age and maturity will play a significant role on their development. The other can be diet; you can’t build optimal amounts of muscle size without an addequate surplus on the long term, most of the time. The last one I noticed, and I’ll agree with DG here, is that moving weight is not the same as focusing on maximal muscle contraction. I personally dropped my current lifts for some time and actually gained size, so muscle mass is not just an equation of load*reps. I have to add I feel pissed off when I see lifters bigger than me who I could out train easily.

I agree with mah Gerdy, there is sometimes positive correlation between bigger weights and bigger muscles. That boils down to the user. (Example) It was leg day: I worked up to 295 today on the back squat and another dude with thighs probably 10’ smaller than mine worked over 365 with the same range of moment as mine. He looked at me in a funny way because I was ready to puke at the end of rep 11 on set 5 with a lighter weight than his. In your case, maybe you’re stronger than all the other dudes. My two centavos.

Funny you brought this up. I was benching, and this pretty large guy came up after me. I remember, he was barely managing to get 4-5 reps in with about 170 lbs, which to me is maybe a 7 reps/working set weight. It was kinda weird, because his chest (he had a loose tanktop on) was considerably fuller, thicker and larger than mine.