Ep. 17- Dedication to Education

Today, we cover a hot topic for the pros and the bros; How much of our carb stores do we actually use during a lifting session?
  • Do we need to go super high carb on training days?
  • How much can we get away with?
  • Do I need to chug a disgusting glucose drink during?
Well, for endurance based sessions lasting longer than 90 mins, you will need some carbs during as your glycogen stores will start to diminish and it’ll definitely impair your performance. I.e. the tank will run empty and you won’t have those higher gears anymore. But what about a typical S&C or bodybuilding type session? In true nerding out #D2EW style, we’ve got a study to tell us what the crack is.
Koopman et al (2006) got a group on newbie lifters and gave them two quad exercises to do at 75% 1RM;
  • Leg Press (8×10).
  • Leg Extension (8×10)
So, 16 pretty touch sets. Awfully pumpy. After dissecting their muscle, they found that their muscle glycogen had gone down by;
  • 23% in Type I muscle fibres.
  • 40% in Type IIa muscle fibres.
  • 44% in Type IIx muscle fibres.
In other words, the most their muscle glycogen (i.e. the driver for exercise performance) went down by is 44%. So, this leaves us with some take home points;
  1.  If you’re doing more sets for the same muscle group, muscle glycogen will most likely go down further. Go figure?
  2. Unfortunately, you can’t borrow glycogen from your biceps to fuel your quads – It doesn’t quite work like that. The glycogen in the muscle is specific to that muscle.
  3. If you were to double the volume per muscle, i.e. 32 sets then yes, you would probably deplete it. But, why would you be doing 32 sets per muscle group in one session. You’re not Big Ron and you’re not taking his extra curricular vitamins.
So, carbs are important for training – Hopefully this shouldn’t be new news to you now.
However, if you are low carbing and want to train hard, you’ll probably hit rock bottom in your session if you were to start training with low glycogen stores. Let’s say 20% for example; Do the maths, 20% stores -44% usage = shit performance. Therefore, you need SOME carbs in your diet for weight training sessions, but you won’t need loads. So, you can leave the carb powders at home champs, just have another plate of pasta instead as the timing of carbs for weight training and performance is somewhat irrelevant. For the 2-3x session a day pro…This is another layer of complexity. However, it has one outcome; More carbs!

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