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Fluids Or Fibers? The Muscle You Want

Posted Feb 19 2009 6:21pm
I have a feeling the title of this article may attract the wrong people and turn off the people it’s aimed towards. I really am aiming this article at both males and females. Although it will seem like solely males in the beginning, I will explain how it translates to females later. When I say fluids or fibers I am not talking about liquid and the stuff that helps you digest (at least not in this post). Fluids or fibers is referring to muscles, specifically towards muscle size.

There are a lot of guys who walk around looking like they could lift a small car over their heads and run with it. Truth be told, most of them are not that strong and can barely run in the first place. On the other hand, there are plenty of guys out there who don’t look to be that strong, but they are the ones who can lift that car and throw it (OK maybe a little exaggeration there).

A perfect example of this is the difference between bodybuilders and powerlifters. While most bodybuilders look to be the stronger of the two, powerlifters will be able to out lift a body builder any day. What is the reasoning behind this? They have achieved different types of hypertrophy. Hypertrophy is defined as muscle growth and translates to larger size. Believe it or not there are two different ways for your muscles to grow. One way is to put fluid into the muscles (the easy way out) the other is to actually increase the size of the muscle fibers.

Fluid Hypertrophy

When you train, there is an accumulation of blood plasma in the muscles. This increase of fluid leads towards the “pump” that many people talk about. While it is good to reach this fluid hypertrophy or pump during a workout, it can translate into the type hypertrophy you don’t want. By consistently doing very high rep workouts this fluid hypertrophy will stick and you will deceitfully have more muscle mass. The mass will be full of the blood plasma and after a few weeks of not lifting weights you will shrink down pretty fast. On top of that, you will have to keep up with those high volume workouts in order to keep the size. It’s almost like you have a permanent pump going for the duration that you are actively lifting weights.

Fiber Hypertrophy

This is the type of hypertrophy that you should be looking for if you are really trying to make sustainable changes. Fibrous hypertrophy is a result in actual muscle fiber growth. This growth can be attributed to many different things but when it comes down to it your muscles are actually growing more fibers and enlarging. This is achieved by lifting challenging weights that you cannot do for 20 reps. The rep range here should be anywhere from 5-12 but rarely higher then that. Rather then high reps you should be looking for higher sets. It is also widely accepted that hypertrophy is a result of being under tension for 40-70 seconds. This means that each set should last that long in order to ensure growth. Because of the growth in the fibers, you can take a month off of training and won’t necessarily lose size. Although it may take a little longer to achieve the size you want, it will be much easier to maintain this size.

For Women

Ladies, I know that you may not be wanting size at all. Most of my female clients come in asking to tighten up certain areas of the body and say they don’t want to get “too bulky”. If you are doing high reps 15-20 of exercises, you will likely be moving more towards that fluid hypertrophy. This will give you a puffy look and not really tighten you up at all. Working for fiber hypertrophy will be the way to go. Do more weight for less reps and you will be getting strong. Strong is what you want. Strength does not necessarily translate into external size, just because you are getting stronger doesn’t mean your getting bigger. Your muscles will get stronger which will lead to tightening. It will also take much longer to get bulky and will allow you time to spot it before you look like a bodybuilder. In fact that was a little sarcastic, you really shouldn’t have to worry about that at all.


Its easy..lift more weight, do less reps. In my mind its much better to be sneaky strong compared to looking huge and getting out lifted by someone who is 170 pounds and skinny looking. Unless you are a bodybuilder or just want to get quickly yolked looking, for a Hawaii vacation; fiber size is the way to go. Hopefully this will change the way you look at weight lifting a little bit. More sets, less reps!
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