Strength vs Hypertrophy: The Dilemma

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Strength vs Hypertrophy: The Dilemma

I was recently asked what was more important for an older lifter, strength or hypertrophy.  Here is my answer:

I believe you should train for both; but don’t be so quick to think that these two ways of training are so far away from each other. You don’t need to do 1-3 reps to get stronger; you can get stronger with higher reps, too. So get that outdated bologna out of your head.

Understand that both strength and hypertrophy decline as we age. But so does mobility.  You know the saying, "If you don't use it, you lose it?" Well this applies to most areas of fitness.

As I get older, I focus on these things:

Mobility - This is easy to maintain/get better at.  You do something everyday.

Getting off the ground - Never lose the ability to do this.  I recommend you do Turkish Get-ups. You don't need to make a big social media show of getting off the ground.  People have been going from the floor to standing for quite awhile now; no need to document your average-ness.

Strength/Hypertrophy - Once again, not mutually exclusive. Strong legs and “built” upper body is the focus. Strong legs are healthy legs.

Conditioning - I recommend you do a mix of both hard and easy conditioning. Generally, way more easy than hard. Also, the rally cry for my football players is “strong legs, strong lungs”.  You don't need to go crazy with this stuff; consistency goes a long, long way.  (Side Bar: There are still “coaches” who don’t believe you should be in good shape for football and ignore running for most of the off-season.) Personally, I adopt the same “Strong legs, strong lungs” philosophy but obviously not the same training regimen.

What you do in the weight room is going to be scaled to what you can do; only you know that. Using myself as an example, I do Malcolm X BBB, with 5’s PRO and/or a variation of 5’s PRO that I do.  So after my main work is done, my supplemental regimen is 50 total reps with FSL weights. Those 50 reps have to be done in 20 minutes.

So the first part of the workout is “heavy”. The second part is for hypertrophy; The supplemental work is complimented with ONE (this is also represented numerically with the following digit: 1) assistance lift.  This ONE assistance lift per training day is also done for 50 total reps and usually consists of either bodyweight work or KB work.

The above is done 3 days/week.

Conditioning is done 3-4 days/week and is weather/attitude dependent. So as long as I do something, I don’t really care. It can be Prowler, walking, bike, stairs, weight vest walk/stairs, hills, weight vest hills, sled pull, mile run, 100s/50’s. Again, just get moving.  The conditioning is done on either training days or off days; it doesn't matter as long as you are consistent.

Finally: My “strong lungs” don’t have to play football again; they just need to be healthy. 

If you want to know more about programming your training for your goals, read 5/3/1 Second Edition;  That is the book I recommend everyone read first.

Note: The picture in this blog is of Erik Helgeson.  He played at Boise State in the 90's and had 54.5 career sacks. 

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