Q&A: Rest Periods, Deadlifts, Bulking, and Hypertrophy for Powerlifters

In today’s episode, Greg and Eric field listener questions about how much time powerlifters should spend training for hypertrophy, how frequently to bulk, optimal rest periods for strength and hypertrophy, whether or not you need to be doing deadlifts or deadlift variations for physique-related goals, and much more. To finish off the episode, Greg shares some tips on how aspiring fitness professionals can improve their writing skills and start getting published.

We recently rolled out a new feature on the Stronger By Science website. We have extracted clips from all of our previous podcast episodes and organized them by topic, so you can quickly find in-depth answers to your training and nutrition-related questions. To check it out, head over to strongerbyscience.com/QA

If you want your questions answered on a future episode, you can submit them using the following link: tiny.cc/sbsqa

Time Stamps

0:01:05 History lesson: Strength coaches in college sports

0:04:43 Two questions:

  1. In a good powerlifting program, how much time or volume should be spent on hypertrophy work, and how should this change based on training experience and in-season versus off-season training? 
  2. I want to look jacked. How do I know if I am strong enough to be messing with bodybuilding-style training and accessory work? Should I just be focused on getting stronger until my main lifts are more competitive?

0:14:20 There has been a lot of discussion about bulking on recent shows. I would be interested in hearing about practical recommendations regarding the frequency of bulking and cutting. How often is common? Is there a ceiling where it’s no longer effective, or even harmful, over a given time period?

0:29:57 Two questions:

  1. I’ve noticed that as my lifts have gotten stronger, my rest periods are becoming longer. What’s the mechanism behind that?
  2. What does the literature say about rest time between sets for maximizing hypertrophy versus maximizing strength? Is it possible to take too much or little?

0:52:18 Rank these sports in order of difficulty and competitiveness: men’s natural bodybuilding, men’s natural classic physique, baseball, basketball and football.

0:55:09 Is body mass index (BMI) still accurate for people who are much taller (or shorter) than average?

1:05:53 Is completely eschewing the deadlift and all deadlift variations acceptable from a bodybuilding standpoint? If so, can you name a couple of accomplished bodybuilders who have reached their level without incorporating deadlifts into their training? To what extent can I make up for deadlift gains with a bunch of other exercises targeting the posterior chain, forearms, and upper traps?

1:12:45 I’ve been trying to get more sleep (at least 8-9 hours or more per night). However, I typically end up either waking up earlier or waking up more frequently throughout the night, resulting in poorer sleep than normal. Is this a sign that I shouldn’t be trying to force more sleep, and should return to my typical sleep habits?

1:22:06 Are you ever concerned about a client having high creatinine levels? 

1:27:00 I once heard Greg say that one reason he’s never taken anabolic steroids is their potential impact on cognition, but I’ve never seen anyone else reference that as a side effect. Could he elaborate?

1:37:13 More and more studies show that a plant based diet is healthier than one that includes meat and other animal products. How does this relate to gains and weight loss?

1:48:18 I was wondering if you guys could provide any advice for students looking to improve their writing skills for science-based fitness articles. Related to that, what would be a useful approach for getting published on well-known websites?

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