2

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Calories required for strength gains?

Answered on August 19, 2014
Created August 12, 2012 at 4:52 AM

I am interested in increasing my strength and "leaning out", if you will, and not particular about increasing mass. I have heard and read the recommendations in regards to sets, reps and load for strength as opposed to hypertrophy, but am confused when it comes to calories. Is muscular size proportional to strength? I have seen pictures of very small people shifting some very large loads. Following from this, does that mean that calorie requirements for strength gains are different from calorie requirements for mass gains? I am aware that you cannot increase mass without a caloric surplus, but is one able to increase strength (or, muscle-to-fat ratio) whilst at maintenance or a deficit?

Thank you! Please excuse me if this is a newbie question. I genuinely have no idea. I found this question: http://paleohacks.com/questions/64686/gaining-mass-strength-weight#axzz23ELy534X, but it didn't satisfy me or mention calories.

667f6c030b0245d71d8ef50c72b097dc

(15976)

on August 12, 2012
at 07:48 PM

You got a bunch of solid answers. Good question.

667f6c030b0245d71d8ef50c72b097dc

(15976)

on August 12, 2012
at 07:46 PM

Good summation. The point in one's progression with weights where one must increase calories in order to repair themselves adequately to lift more weights usually comes at a point in one's lifting life where they definitely already know they'll need to be eating more soon. There is pretty much no way one could approach their maxes at their initial caloric intake without having learned or been told to prepare to eat more simply because it takes so much time to lift in a steady and slow progression for their initial foray into lifting.

667f6c030b0245d71d8ef50c72b097dc

(15976)

on August 12, 2012
at 07:42 PM

Your answer fits the question because if one is asking this question (as many of us prolly did at some point) it means they are still prolly at the level where they don't need a surplus of cals.

667f6c030b0245d71d8ef50c72b097dc

(15976)

on August 12, 2012
at 07:41 PM

Good answer. It's all a question of where one is at: if you're new to lifting then you can eat normally and you'll gain strength on a basic linear progression style of lifting. Once you've been at it for a year, maybe six months, and you know what you're doing, have an idea of your maxes, etc. you'll know if you need to eat more or not. Maybe an easy guide is to eat normally and lift until you start feeling near a plateau with your strength gain. Then maybe start eating an additional 300-500 cals daily.

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4 Answers

best answer

1
81fca18329e68e227cdfef3857bfef96

(1320)

on August 12, 2012
at 04:45 PM

It is an important question.

Like JayJay stated above, CNS adaption is the primary reason novice level lifters increase in strength at the rate that they do. Once CNS adaptation has slowed, the majority of strength gains comes from the addition of lean mass. This is what those that advocate muscle 'confusion' fail to understand. One needs there body to become familiar with a movement before it becomes a useful tool in adding lean mass. Yes, a novice level lifter can increase in strength while on caloric maintenance/deficit due to CNS adaptation.

As you reach your limits of CNS adaptation, the only way to continue to gain strength is to add lean mass (muscle).

Also as JayJay stated, you can program your strength training for sacroplasmic versus myofibril hypertrophy. Bodybuilders primarily focus on sacroplasmic while athletes focus on myofibril. All novices should focus on myofibril and build a foundation of strength before they branch out into sacroplasmic (bodybuilding).

A calorie surplus is needed to gain lean mass. Your body has to have something to build the additional mass with. If you have excessive body fat, you can run a calorie deficit and build lean mass but this becomes harder (and near impossible to do) as your BF% lowers. Yes, you can change your BF% (muscle to fat ratio) while in a caloric maintenance/deficit.

If your only concern is building strength, then eat A LOT of food (4000-5000 calories) for the best (quickest) results. If you are looking for more conservative gains to maintain aesthetics (takes longer) then just add +500 calories to your caloric expenditure. There are also nutrition plans like Leangains you can follow.

For your stated goals, I recommend you start a novice level strength training program (I am a fan of Starting Strength but there are a lot of good ones) and follow the Leangains (Google it) plan. If you don't want to do the IF then don't. Just follow the macro loading and carb cycling.

667f6c030b0245d71d8ef50c72b097dc

(15976)

on August 12, 2012
at 07:46 PM

Good summation. The point in one's progression with weights where one must increase calories in order to repair themselves adequately to lift more weights usually comes at a point in one's lifting life where they definitely already know they'll need to be eating more soon. There is pretty much no way one could approach their maxes at their initial caloric intake without having learned or been told to prepare to eat more simply because it takes so much time to lift in a steady and slow progression for their initial foray into lifting.

2
1edb06ded9ccf098a4517ca4a7a34ebc

on August 12, 2012
at 05:04 PM

maintenance calories and a good workout program.

667f6c030b0245d71d8ef50c72b097dc

(15976)

on August 12, 2012
at 07:42 PM

Your answer fits the question because if one is asking this question (as many of us prolly did at some point) it means they are still prolly at the level where they don't need a surplus of cals.

1
68294383ced9a0eafc16133aa80d1905

(5795)

on August 12, 2012
at 05:30 PM

It's a myth that size and strength only comes with a big calorie surplus. This is true for someone who is already "bottomed out" and has the composition desired, and only needs to GAIN muscle.

For most, if not all, there is still some wiggle room where fat loss and muscle can both occur (basically, body composition improvements) and a huge surplus is not needed.

For someone just really starting, I'd recommend eating HIGH QUALITY, WELL-TIMED food, and you will see both size and strength gains. This food does not have to be a surplus. Obviously, at some point, this will plateau and you may need to bump up intake (just as you will need to bump of volume/weight in any program) to see results on top of the base you have built. For most people though, they assume they are starting at this base when really, they aren't there yet.

667f6c030b0245d71d8ef50c72b097dc

(15976)

on August 12, 2012
at 07:41 PM

Good answer. It's all a question of where one is at: if you're new to lifting then you can eat normally and you'll gain strength on a basic linear progression style of lifting. Once you've been at it for a year, maybe six months, and you know what you're doing, have an idea of your maxes, etc. you'll know if you need to eat more or not. Maybe an easy guide is to eat normally and lift until you start feeling near a plateau with your strength gain. Then maybe start eating an additional 300-500 cals daily.

0
3846a3b61bc9051e4baebdef62e58c52

(18635)

on August 12, 2012
at 04:16 PM

Strength can be increased through stimulation and improvement to the nervous system without hypertrophy. That is one way, and is why in chiropractic literature there evidence that grip strength improves following an adjustment to the spine http://www.jmptonline.org/article/S0161-4754%2811%2900223-5/abstract. It is also responsible for a lot of the noob gains in untrained individuals before actual increase in muscle occurs.

Specifically for your question I think your leaning toward the question of sacroplasmic vs myofibril hypertrophy. So maybe do a search for those terms. IMO you can increase strength while leaning out, but to put on mass your gonna have to have a lot more calories.

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