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Strength Steady = No Muscle Loss?

I saw this posted in another thread without an answer but it piqued my interest so I was hoping I could get some insight from the knowledgeable members of this site

“would you say strength is almost directly correlated with muscle?
As in lets just say I’m losing weight/cutting but my strength has stayed the same or gone up (which it has) in all or close to all exercises, can I be nearly positive that I have not lost muscle? And when “bulking” if I’m gaining weight at a good pace and gaining significant strength is it likely to be mostly muscle?”

I’m not sure about the cutting part which is where my main curiosity about this comes from but I will say I’ve bulked before gaining a good amount of strength yet putting on a high percentage of fat too fast or even just not putting muscle on at certain times (following good nutrition advice, not cheating, etc…)

so, opinions on the quote?

very interesting question, was wondering the same thing. a little bump to catch attention of those who are in the know.

That’s pretty well accepted, not that controversial. Generally that’s true. Thibs mentions that often times when he helps bodybuilders diet down for a show they can continue to get stronger even up till about 2-3 weeks out from the competition, for example.

If you’re losing a lot of strength while cutting, you’re not doing it right.

Do people usually come off of creatine while cutting? What if it’s not for a show, but just cutting from say 16% to 8%?

Also, would you be weaker while on a low carb diet? Or would you just need to shorten workouts because less carbs = less glycogen stores?

What happens when the glycogen stores in a muscle run out?

[quote]Artem wrote:
Do people usually come off of creatine while cutting? What if it’s not for a show, but just cutting from say 16% to 8%?

Also, would you be weaker while on a low carb diet? Or would you just need to shorten workouts because less carbs = less glycogen stores?

What happens when the glycogen stores in a muscle run out?[/quote]

I don’t see the reason to come off creatine, unless it’s for a bodybuilding show because it helps you retain water.

You’d probably be weaker, that’s what most guys report that do the low carb thing.

Your body will find another way to get glycogen by eating away at whatever else is available…

first of all you don’t necessarily get weaker with low carbs at all. Secondly, your body doesn’t just “eat away at whatever is available”. On low carb your supposed to have refeeds to fill up glycogen, someone is an idiot if they try to do intense workouts with no carbs placed anywhere in the week.

Back to my original question, can any of the more knowledgeable/experienced members chime in? I’m assuming it’s generally right but are there a lot of exceptions?

The fact that you maintain strength does not neccessarily mean you have not lost ANY muscle tissue during a cut. Almost everyone who has mentionable mass will lose some of it when dieting down.

However, it IS a good gauge as to whether you are losing too much muscle, since a less massive muscle = a weaker muscle.

So the answer to the quoted question is: In general, yes.

[quote]Needmassquick wrote:
first of all you don’t necessarily get weaker with low carbs at all. Secondly, your body doesn’t just “eat away at whatever is available”. On low carb your supposed to have refeeds to fill up glycogen, someone is an idiot if they try to do intense workouts with no carbs placed anywhere in the week.

Back to my original question, can any of the more knowledgeable/experienced members chime in? I’m assuming it’s generally right but are there a lot of exceptions?[/quote]

You don’t necessarily get weaker, but as you go low carb people feel lower energy levels, unless they have re-feeds.

Strength is only part of the picture. If you are cutting and your 1rm or even 6rm stays the same or even increases, you LIKELY are maintaining most of your muscle. But, volume plays a role as well. If pre-cutting you were able to squat 300 for 5x5 (25reps) and post cutting did 1x5 with 300, you potentially have lost some muscle. IMO this is especially true for individuals that are beginners. For beginners, strength is less related to mass than advanced lifters.

For example: A newbie might be able to increase his bench max by 20% with no increase in muscle, while an advanced PL’er would have to have significant mass increase for the same strength increase. This would suggest that if an advanced PL’er were able to lose weight, while keeping or increasing strength, then yes, they would likely be maintining muscle well.

Strength is only part of the picture. If you are cutting and your 1rm or even 6rm stays the same or even increases, you LIKELY are maintaining most of your muscle. But, volume plays a role as well. If pre-cutting you were able to squat 300 for 5x5 (25reps) and post cutting did 1x5 with 300, you potentially have lost some muscle. IMO this is especially true for individuals that are beginners. For beginners, strength is less related to mass than advanced lifters.

For example: A newbie might be able to increase his bench max by 20% with no increase in muscle, while an advanced PL’er would have to have significant mass increase for the same strength increase. This would suggest that if an advanced PL’er were able to lose weight, while keeping or increasing strength, then yes, they would likely be maintining muscle well.

If you train with a one-top-set or one rest-pause set approach like most big people, then all you need to watch is your strength in the moderate or higher rep ranges… 6-10 reps or so. If that stays pretty much the same, then you’ll likely maintain the vast majority of your mass.

Lower rep strength has a lot more to do with technique and the nervous system…

In general, leverages also play a role. So if you’re dieting down from fat to contest shape, if you previously could squat 650*1 then it’s unlikely that you’ll still be able to do that after your cut, no matter how well you preserve your actual muscle-mass… No gut left to help you in the hole.

Deadlift numbers on the other hand shouldn’t be quite as affected as presses and squats.
Neither should curls or laterals and such be.

Ok that’s basically what I was getting at. If your able to do the same strength, volume with that weight, etc…

and with the method CC explained you’d be doing that volume while bulking anyway so it wouldn’t really change I guess when cutting.

As long as you’re not a total beginner or are very lean, then you should be able to maintain most of your muscles when dieting down by getting enough protein and maintaining or trying to increase your strength.

My reasoning is as follows;

  1. A total beginner can gain strength through CNS activation so even if they’re eating very little, they can still have a huge increase in their poundage numbers. And of course it’s also possible for beginners to gain muscle and lose fat at the same time.

  2. Very lean people have little fat left, so the body tends to lose more muscle than less lean people when they diet down. Sorry, I don’t really remember the exact hormonal mechanism reasoning behind this.

And of course, the more muscles you have, the more significant the muscle loss is going to be when you diet down.