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View Full Version : This could go in either forum..BBvsPL



Fenbay
06-30-2003, 07:40 AM
Just one of those nagging trying to understand how things work type questions. I have lots of those. ;)

Let's say we have a bodybuilder who weighs 250llbs at say 10% BF and then we have a Powerlifter who weighs 280llbs at 20% BF.

Quick math tells us the BB has 225llbs lean body mass IE muscle etc. and the powerlifter has 224 llbs lean body mass. So both of these dudes basically have the same amount of muscle.

Now the part that interests me. Powerlifter can bench/dl/squat ridiculous amounts of weight compared to the bodybuilder. I'm not even interested in messing with actual numbers here, but let's suffice to say that it's significantly higher than the bodybuilder's. Why? Is is all CNS? They have the same amount of muscle so why can't the bb lift as much as the pl? I know it's all training, but what about the training? What makes them respond so differently to weight? How much of it is because of the extra fat the pl carries, stands to reason fat wouldn't do anything for helping weight get moved.

Eh?

benchmonster
06-30-2003, 08:01 AM
Fat does not move weight.

A more efficient CNS will move far more weight than a less efficient CNS. Let me break it down in a bit of a simplistic manner, but one which I believe helps us to grasp the concepts at work here.

1st of all. Forget the notion that bigger and stronger are the same thing. This is innacurate, and is a result of Western culture's emphasis on looks and physical beauty, and also the insidious impact of bodybuilding and "fitness" culture seeping into strength sports areas.

OK, now that this is out of the way. 1st of all, not to many top powerlifters are going to be at 20% fat, but, lets just take your example. Both guys have the same amount of muscle, right? But the powerlifter is way stronger. Think about it this way.

The bodybuilder is only interested really, in looks. If his muscle gets bigger, more ripped, whatever, then he is accomplishing his goal. The powerlifter wants to get stronger. This should tell you right off, that the same amount of muscle in each of these athletes is not to be given the same value. In other words, the same amount of muscle that the powerlifter has will be stronger than an equal amount of muscle possessed by the bodybuilder, because of different training and goals.

To avoid getting this discussion too complex tho, lets assume that the muscle fibers in each of these athletes are completely equal. Now, because of different training and focus, the bodybuilder is only able to recruit 60% of his available muscle fibers for a given one rep max (1rm).

The powerlifter, on the other hand, because of his focus and training, can recruit 80% of his available muscle fibers for a 1rm. Now, 2 guys of equal muscular strength are going, respectively, at 60% of available output, and 80% of available output. Who do you suppose is going to be stronger?

It is kind of like they are both running the same motor, but the powerlifter has a lower geared transmission. Two chevy 350 motors, both putting out 300 horsepower are equal, right? But if one of them has much lower gears than the other, and you hook these 2 vehicles to a load, the lower geared engine will pull more weight.

This is a bit simple, as it does not go into details such as neruotransmitters, sarcoplastic hypertrophy, etc. . . but hopefully this helps to answer the question (and it was a good one) posed in your post above.

B.

Fenbay
06-30-2003, 08:33 AM
Thanks BM. That was what I pretty much figured, was that somehow the PL is able to recruit more muscle fibers. But that physiology sure seems strange. Theoretically the BB and PL have the same potentital then, but the PL is the only one wired to take advantage of that potential.

Kind of explains how one hears about the super-human feats of strength in dire emergencies. Mom pulling car off kid type stuff you hear about from time to time.

Now if we could just harnass that potentital fully we'd have it all figured out I guess. heh!

Manveet
06-30-2003, 10:34 AM
This was taken from a T-Mag interview with Pavel Tsatsouline



Pavel: I was quoting Dr. Ken Leistner and referred to the "new" bodybuilding, post Arnold and Franco. The stuff they do today in the gyms is more cosmetic surgery than strength training. The emphasis is on the hypertrophy of everything but contractile proteins. A typical dude with eighteen-inch pipes is a big joke on an arm-wrestling table… provided he has enough nerve to test his virtual muscle in this manly art.


Strength training for sports does not rely on sarcoplasmic hypertrophy, unless you are a sumo wrestler or a football lineman. It should focus on myofibrillar hypertrophy through many sets of low reps and, more importantly, on a host of neural factors: motoneuron excitability, neural drive, Golgi tendon organ disinhibition, etc. What bothers me is when newbies who come to the gym to up their strength for, say, Alpine skiing, are told to do three sets of ten for lunges, leg presses, leg curls, and other fluff instead of simply hitting five sets of five for squats or deads.

PowerManDL
06-30-2003, 11:15 AM
Its largely neural, yeah.

There's some research showing that it may have a lot to do with fiber type content, as strength athletes on average tend to have a higher concentration of type IIx fibers, and in general type II fibers expressing glycolytic qualities, than the typical bodybuilder. This obviously leads to higher force outputs and faster recruitment of high-threshold motor units.

Which really boils down to training those high-threshold motor units. Heavy loads or lighter loads moved quickly both act to enhance all the characteristics that affect maximal strength and power.

Just a quick overview of these characteristics, since they seem to get tossed around a lot:

Maximal Strength: This technically refers to the maximal isometric force that the muscle(s) can produce. Limit weight attempts are a function of this quality, as are most other factors of muscular strength.

Power: Work/Time, or force * velocity. The essentially equates to a "balance" between force and velocity; a load at which the most force can be applied with the most speed. This is where the Westside recommendations of 50-60% of the 1RM come into play.

Rate of Force Development: Basically this is described as a curve showing how force is developed, maintained, and then drops off over the course of a movement. The higher the RFD, the more explosive the movement. RFD is highly specific to a given movement *and* to a given weight. Note that this quality is independent of speed; NOT the same as power.

Explosive Strength: Strictly, the peak of the RFD curve. Generally subdivided into two qualities: Starting Strength and Acceleration Strength. Starting Strength is the ability to quickly recruit muscle fibers; Acceleration Strength is the ability to keep them "turned on" for the duration of the movement. This is also related to the concepts of speed-strength and strength-speed. Again, these qualities should be trained very specifically.

Reactive Ability: Sometimes referred to as deceleration strength. The ability to slow and stop an eccentric movement, then quickly reverse it. Due to the specific stretch-mediated processes involved, this is considered a separate motor skill and is trained separetely; though its development *can* overlap some of the motor skills listed above.

All of these are developed (or at least should be) by strength athletes, to varying degrees, by their training. Bodybuilders for the most part ignore all but the first, and even then its generally sketchy. Those qualities contribute greatly to not only the amount of force a given area of muscle can generate, but how quickly it can generate it, which makes a big difference.

Blood&Iron
06-30-2003, 11:52 AM
Quickly looking through the two response so far, I think most points have been convered. But there's one more point I didn't see mentioned:

There are pretty large differences in the form a bodyfbuilder will use vs. what a powerlifter will. Also, if you're considering the kinds of weights powerlifters put up in competition, most bodybuilders don't use things like bench shirts, or suits (Though, certainly, plenty of powerlifters don't either; and bodybuilders do tend to overuse lifting straps)

Also, since these sorts of discussions often degenerate into powerlifting v. bodybuilding, with both sides insulting the other, I 'd like to add neither PL'ing or bodybuilding is intrinsically better than the other. Each has its own set of goals and methods.

Blood&Iron
06-30-2003, 11:54 AM
Originally posted by Fenbay

Kind of explains how one hears about the super-human feats of strength in dire emergencies. Mom pulling car off kid type stuff you hear about from time to time.

One of the primary factors in these sorts of feats of strength is that the Golgi Tendon Organs, which would normally serve to limit strength production (so you don't hurt yourself) shut down.

benchmonster
06-30-2003, 12:45 PM
See, I go to all this trouble to try and explain this stuff simply, and then a couple of smarty pants' have to come along and explain in great detail, and with impressive big science words what I was trying to explain in grade school language. (very impressive knowledge, by the way, Blood&Iron, and Powerman)

What you tend not to hear about tho Fenbay, is how that woman's spine got turned into a pretzel in the process of moving that car. She exceeded her natural strength levels to such an extent that she tears her body up.

But we can learn from her, that if you continually, and gradually get the golgi tendon response to allow you more and more strain, that you can over time become insanely strong. You just have to figure out how to push this envelope without crippling yourself in the process.

B.

Fenbay
06-30-2003, 12:56 PM
I'm quite pleased this hasn't degenerated into a BB vs. PL thread as I was after scientific and observed evidence for what causes this difference.

BM, yeah I've heard of horrible muscle tears and other damage associated with these "miraculous" strength events.

The muscle fiber thing I'm not too sure about though. Although I understand the two different muscle fiber types; I don't necessarily see how the training of powerlifter versus bodybuilder with today's general consensus of how to train would cause the difference in growth. Seems most folks stick to the lower lower sets higher weights theory now which of course PL's use as well.

Really neat stuff and I appreciate the responses.

Oh, and completely off topic, I saw on discovery channel the other night they're working on flexible nanotechnology that can respond to a force and exert its on force just like the body's muscle fibers. They talked about applied technology being a shirt that would allow you to lift x number of times more weight than your muscles could. Now that would be a bench shirt! hehe

Xg74
06-30-2003, 07:21 PM
Yes, that technology is being developed as part of the "Future Warrior 2010" project for the military. ;)

Linky to subject discussion (http://63.99.108.76/ubb/Forum2/HTML/004651.html)

JuniorMint6669
07-01-2003, 12:23 AM
Im kinda curious about BB deciding he wants to become PL and PL deciding he wants to become BB.

Do they mearly have to change there rep/set scheme? Would a BB be able to progress quickly into a PL because he has more muscle fibers available? Would a PL be able to progress quickly into a BB because he can hoist huge weights with what muscle hes got?

Paul Stagg
07-01-2003, 07:45 AM
The biggest change would be diet.

chris mason
07-01-2003, 10:53 AM
You guys always forget genetic propensity. Years ago bodybuilding competitions were held after weightlifting meets, almost as an afterthought. Even in the 70s many contests had crossover athletes (AAU stuff). Often the non-superheavyweight powerlifters of the early 70s would compete in the bodybuilding shows which followed the lifting.

These days you have more specialization (you did then as well, just not to the same degree). So, when a guy first starts training he might find that he puts on muscle easily, yet his strength, while improving, is nothing to write home about. On the other hand you may have a guy who starts training and finds himself to be quite strong, but not to have a physique which would win any bodybuilding shows. The first guy might decide to concentrate on bodybuilding while the second might become a powerlifter or weightlifter. Their genetic predisposition lead them to their sport as opposed to the manner in which they trained (in the beginning).

This is an oversimplification but you get the idea. So, going back to the original example, later in their careers they might attain the stats mentioned and have the disparity in lifts mentioned. This disparity being as much a product of genes as it is of specific training methodology.

john26
07-01-2003, 04:52 PM
Originally posted by Paul Stagg
The biggest change would be diet.

would it? i'd think the training methods, rep schemes, speed days, loads, etc would be more important than diet.

the way i'd see diet coming into play is if someone interested in pling wanted to have a good physique. you can get a good physique doing pl routines if your diet is in check. it won't be as "defined" or what not due to the lack of isolation, but still

edit: form on compound movements is drastically different for pl'rs as opposed to bb'rs also. squat, bench, etc.

silles
07-04-2003, 02:23 PM
I feel the need to plug Pavel Tsatsouline's book Power to the People! which deals in depth, 200 pages or so on this exact topic, with training strategies tailored specifically to the issue of strength production without increasing muscle size. As Pavel says, "You already have the strength to lift a car, your muscles just do not know it yet."

FortifiedIron
07-04-2003, 04:22 PM
Originally posted by PowerManDL
Its largely neural, yeah.

There's some research showing that it may have a lot to do with fiber type content, as strength athletes on average tend to have a higher concentration of type IIx fibers, and in general type II fibers expressing glycolytic qualities, than the typical bodybuilder. This obviously leads to higher force outputs and faster recruitment of high-threshold motor units.

Which really boils down to training those high-threshold motor units. Heavy loads or lighter loads moved quickly both act to enhance all the characteristics that affect maximal strength and power.

Just a quick overview of these characteristics, since they seem to get tossed around a lot:

Maximal Strength: This technically refers to the maximal isometric force that the muscle(s) can produce. Limit weight attempts are a function of this quality, as are most other factors of muscular strength.

Power: Work/Time, or force * velocity. The essentially equates to a "balance" between force and velocity; a load at which the most force can be applied with the most speed. This is where the Westside recommendations of 50-60% of the 1RM come into play.

Rate of Force Development: Basically this is described as a curve showing how force is developed, maintained, and then drops off over the course of a movement. The higher the RFD, the more explosive the movement. RFD is highly specific to a given movement *and* to a given weight. Note that this quality is independent of speed; NOT the same as power.

Explosive Strength: Strictly, the peak of the RFD curve. Generally subdivided into two qualities: Starting Strength and Acceleration Strength. Starting Strength is the ability to quickly recruit muscle fibers; Acceleration Strength is the ability to keep them "turned on" for the duration of the movement. This is also related to the concepts of speed-strength and strength-speed. Again, these qualities should be trained very specifically.

Reactive Ability: Sometimes referred to as deceleration strength. The ability to slow and stop an eccentric movement, then quickly reverse it. Due to the specific stretch-mediated processes involved, this is considered a separate motor skill and is trained separetely; though its development *can* overlap some of the motor skills listed above.

All of these are developed (or at least should be) by strength athletes, to varying degrees, by their training. Bodybuilders for the most part ignore all but the first, and even then its generally sketchy. Those qualities contribute greatly to not only the amount of force a given area of muscle can generate, but how quickly it can generate it, which makes a big difference.


bingo and very informational at that bro.

great post!


Kc