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Volume, nutrition, and hypertrophy

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  • Volume, nutrition, and hypertrophy

    Hi Austin,

    I was looking at your Instagram story about volume just now, trying to make some Brain Gainz. My question is about how nutrition interacts with your high volume approach.

    To recap for the benefit of those without Instagram, your story is about how muscle size is the main determiner of strength in trained lifters, how an appropriately high level of volume best supports hypertrophy, and how you are personally implementing these ideas by squatting 13 work sets per week.

    I am curious about how you eat to support this. My understanding is that in order to gain muscle, a lifter must be in a caloric surplus (with some exceptions for people who are overfat and untrained). However, in a discussion with Jordan on YouTube (whose exact title I unfortunately forget) you mention weighing yourself every day and trying to maintain a constant bodyweight.

    How are you gaining muscle while eating essentially at maintenance? This seems to contradict the notion that a surplus is necessary for muscle growth.

    The only possibility I can think of is that you are actually doing moderate cut/bulk cycles, and not maintaining a constant bodyweight. Is this the case?

    Thanks for your time and humoring my confusion.


  • #2
    Hi Patrick

    Thanks for your question. I don't want to over-simplify this stuff and suggest that all post-novice gains come from hypertrophy. Recall that, at least based on the available data we have, it has been suggested that 65-90% of the variance in strength performance on a given movement could be explained by differences in muscle mass of the "prime movers" of that movement. Although that is an impressive figure, it's still a fairly wide range. What if the "true" value is 65%? That leaves room for a whole bunch of the "other" factors to play a role -- and there is certainly a significant proportion of additional neuromuscular adaptation that occurs in the post-novice phase (particularly learning how to recruit the necessary effort for 1RM performance), we just think there is relatively less compared to when a complete novice learns how to move for the first time.

    I do weigh myself near-daily, but I am not usually trying to maintain a constant bodyweight. I weigh myself that frequently to ensure I'm not losing bodyweight. If the day-to-day trend is "even" or trending upwards, I'm good. If it drops, that's a sign for me to make an effort to eat more over the next day.

    With that said, despite my goals of getting Hyoogeâ„¢, I am unfortunately not very good at eating, and tend to lose weight fairly quickly when I'm not able to maintain this routine. For example, when my hospital schedule gets hectic, when I"m traveling, teaching seminars, etc... all of these tend to result in several pounds of weight loss by the time I'm back on track. So I suppose you could consider these to be "mini bulk-cut cycles", although the "cuts" are not intentional. I get that type of question often, however - "How does he get strong without gaining weight" ... people don't realize that since I began training, I have gained approximately 50 lbs (net), and much more than that in terms of total weight gained, lost, and regained.

    Hope that helps.
    Last edited by Austin Baraki; 12-06-2017, 01:13 PM.
    IG / YT


    • PatrickD
      PatrickD commented
      Editing a comment
      Thank you! Please write more if you ever have the time. I love the evidence-based stuff you're putting out.

  • #3
    Hi Austin,

    i have also seen what you put on your instagram regarding volume. Coincidentlally, i listened to the last Barbell Logic podcast regarding early intermediate programming. Seems like Hambrick and Reynolds have quite a different point of view compared to you guys regarding what should follow after novice LP. They advocate going for HLM or some form of texas method and going towards a decrease in volume to continue to push the intensity with sets of 3, 2 and 1 to keep adding significant weight on the bar.

    Jordan and You clearly went with a higher volume approach while writing the bridge (counting the variations of the main lifts).

    I imagine you guys consider the higher volume approach more optimal ? Any thoughts ?


    • #4
      Originally posted by Lucas P View Post
      I imagine you guys consider the higher volume approach more optimal ? Any thoughts ?
      My thoughts were very clearly explained in the Instagram posts you saw, and in our podcasts on the topic.
      Last edited by Austin Baraki; 12-07-2017, 03:40 AM.
      IG / YT


      • #5
        Ok good, thanks for the answer.

        From your training videos, you tend to go for a high intensity set and then do volume at lower weights. Is this something you would recommend for more advanced lifters only ? Or is there some benefit to do it in intermediates for the sake of learning to handle bigger weights ?


        • #6
          Not Austin here, but you'll see he tends to do a heavy SINGLE and then volume sets at lower weights. (All of the BBM coaches do that in our own programming.) This is similar to what they have written on in The Bridge, so I'd suggest taking a look at that program. We get better at the things we practice, so if you want to express your strength with a heavy single you'd want to practice that skill.


          • #7
            This is a great video on the topic:

            Lifters featured in our training montage videos are lifters who we coach.If you want to get coaching or programming from RTS, send us a message at the link b...

            If you don't believe me check the most recent comment


            • #8
              Thanks for the answer Leah, sounds like a great strategy.