• Introduction
  • The basics of muscular hypertrophy training
  • Best methods to train muscular hypertrophy
  • Straight sets
  • Drop sets
  • Split training
  • Pyramid set training
  • Physiological effects of muscular hypertrophy training
  • Samples of muscular hypertrophy training programs
  • Suitability for developing athletes and physical education
  • Final thoughts
  • Sources
  • Assistance exercises: movements that support the function of the prime movers, and mainly focus on one muscle group at a time (e.g. leg extension).
  • Bilateral exercises: movement executed evenly and simultaneously by both limbs.
  • Compound exercise: a movement utilizing more than one muscle group at a time.
  • Concentric muscle action: muscle shortens and generates movement.
  • Eccentric muscle action: when external force on a muscle is greater than the force it can produce, resulting in muscle lengthening.
  • Isokinetic muscle action: the muscle contraction remains constant while muscle length changes.
  • Isometric muscle action: when a muscle is activated with no change in muscle length.
  • Electromyography activity: greater motor unit recruitment.
  • Isolated exercise: a movement utilizing one limb at a time.
  • Length-tension relationship: relationship between muscle length and force production.
  • Post-activation potentiation: a short-term performance improvement due to improved neural activation following a high-intensity stimulus.
  • Prime mover: the major muscle groups responsible for movement.
  • Unilateral exercise: an exercise where movement is performed on one side of the body.

Introduction

Muscle hypertrophy refers to the enlargement of overall muscle mass, or an increase in muscle cross-sectional area (CSA). The increase in muscle size mostly takes place in fast-twitch muscle fibers, with type IIa fibers exhibiting the largest degree of growth. Muscle hypertrophy typically takes place after 6-7 weeks of resistance training, whereas muscle atrophy (decrease in lean muscle mass) occurs when type II fibers are not used.

Nearly all muscle hypertrophy is a result of hypertrophy of individual muscle fibers. When the rate of protein synthesis is greater than the rate of protein breakdown, the number of contractile proteins (thin filament actin and thick filament myosin) increase inside the myofibrils (striated muscle organelles comprised of of sarcomeres). This can be stimulated with protein ingestion as well as resistance training, which affects muscles by increasing the number of myofibrils inside the muscle fibers. Thus, increasing muscle fiber thickness.

Hypertrophy also occurs when muscles are stretched beyond their normal length. This adds new sarcomeres at the end of the muscle fiber where they connect to tendons. Conversely, muscle fibers begin losing sarcomeres near the tendons when shortened below their resting length for an extended period of time. On the other hand, the number of muscle cells does not seem to increase (hyperplasia) as a result of resistance training. 

This post focuses on muscle hypertrophy training as well as the general recommendations for optimal sequencing. The guidelines presented are based on the extensive research by The American College of Sports Medicine.

The basics of hypertrophy training

The conventional hypertrophy model consists of three main factors; mechanical tension, metabolic stress, and muscle damage. These factors can be manipulated with a variety of resistance training variables (i.e. load, volume, etc.) as well as different training techniques (blood flow restriction, drop sets, accentuated eccentric loading, supersets, etc.). A progressive increase in mechanical load is considered one of the main factors in changing muscle architecture and increasing lean muscle mass. Therefore, the optimal hypertrophy training aims to maximize the mechanical (loading, eccentric muscle actions, low-to-moderate volume) and metabolic (accumulation of metabolic waste products) stimuli induced by resistance training. To achieve this, the general guidelines for novice hypertrophy training is performing 1−3 sets per exercise of 8−12 repetitions with 70−85% of one repetition maximum (1RM). For advanced individuals, hypertrophy-focused training should consist of 3−6 sets of 1−12 repetitions with 70−100% 1RM.

Resistance training has been shown to produce a significant acute hormonal response, which appears to play a more important role in tissue growth and remodeling in comparison to chronic changes in hormonal concentrations. Studies have shown that anabolic hormones remain elevated approximately 15-30 minutes after training provided that training stimulus is sufficient. Similarly, studies have shown that protein synthesis peaks approximately 24h following a rigorous resistance training bout and remains elevated for up to 48h. Programs consisting of high volume, moderate-to-high intensity, short rest periods, and target large muscle groups tend to elicit the greatest acute hormonal elevations (i.e. anabolic hormones such as testosterone growth hormone, insulin, and insulin-like growth factor-1, and catabolic hormones such as cortisol) in comparison to low-volume, high-intensity protocols with long rest periods. Studies have indicated that mechanical loading may also up-regulate factors involved with myogenesis (the formation of skeletal muscle tissue), whilst down-regulating inhibitory growth factors.

For strength progression, it seems that neural adaptations are initially responsible for increased strength among untrained individuals. Muscle hypertrophy adaptations tend to occur within the first six weeks of training, although changes in protein synthesis and protein quality occur much earlier. After this initial period, it seems that strength expression is a result of neural adaptations and hypertrophy. Once these adaptations have taken place, less muscle mass is recruited to overcome a specific training load. Therefore, progressive overload is needed to maximize muscle fiber recruitment, and thus, hypertrophic adaptations. This also indicates that targeting both hypertrophic and neural factors may be beneficial for both hypertrophy and muscular strength development.

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Muscular Hypertrophy Training


Full-body training & isolated muscle exercisesWeight at 60 - 85% of your maximum6 - 12 repetitions3 - 6 setsRest for 1 - 3mins between sets3 - 5 times a week outside of the competitive season

Choice of exercises

Exercises should be chosen according to specific biomechanics properties and movement patterns that need improvement. Due to the myriad of exercises and joint angles used to target different muscles and muscle groups, the number of exercise variations and combinations are nearly endless. These exercises can be roughly divided into 1) primary exercises and assistance exercises, 2) Structural or body part specific exercises, and 3) unilateral and bilateral exercises. Many of the aforementioned movements can also be performed using free weights or machines. 

Primary exercises target the main muscle groups responsible for a movement (i.e. quadriceps femoris during the leg extension). Assistance exercises often target a single muscle group that supports the function of these so-called prime movers. Structural exercises often incorporate multiple joints simultaneously, some of which utilize the entire body (e.g. powerlifting techniques) while others target specific joints and muscle groups (e.g. bench press, lat pulldown, etc.). Body part specific exercises consist of single-joint movements that isolate specific muscles (i.e. bicep curl). They are often used in rehabilitation and reducing muscle imbalances.  

Both single- and multi-joint exercises have proven effective in increasing strength of targeted muscle groups regardless of which training modality (i.e. free weights, machines) is used. Multiple-joint exercises require a complex neural response and a coordinated effort of several joints and muscle groups, allowing for a higher load to be used. Exercise complexity has also been shown to affect hypertrophy development (multiple-joint exercises require a longer neural adaptive phase than single-joint exercises). This makes multiple-joint exercises optimal for hypertrophy, muscular strength, and power development. Single-joint exercises are beginner friendly, and can be used to target specific muscles when compound exercises are unable to offer a sufficient training stimulus. They can also be used to focus on specific individual training goals (weaknesses, muscle imbalances, injury history, etc.). Finally, both single- and multi-joint exercises can be manipulated using different stances, postures and grip placements to provide a varied training stimulus.

Unilateral exercises (movements performed on one side of the body, i.e. single leg jump), have shown improvements in bilateral exercises (movements performed simultaneously on both sides of the body, i.e. deadlift) and vice versa. However, the level of muscle activation differs when movements are performed unilaterally, which is why these exercises have been shown to improve certain aspects in sports performance (e.g. single-leg jumps, etc.) to a greater extent than bilateral movements. Both unilateral and bilateral exercises can also be performed on an uneven surface (soft mats, wobble boards, etc.) to better activate the lower torso musculature and stabilizing muscles. However, this also results in lower agonist activation, meaning that less load can be lifted. Finally, exercises can be varied using machines or free weights. Weight machines help stabilize the body and limit movements to target specific muscles. Machine exercises are considered safe, beginner-friendly, and allow for exercises that may be difficult to perform with free weights. Free weights require a coordinated intermuscular effort, resulting in a higher neural activation when compared to weight machine exercises of the same intensity. Free weight exercises can also that can be varied to suit sport-specific needs. Both machine exercises and free weight training have been shown to increase hypertrophy. Overall, the aforementioned variations offer a wide selection of movements and progression strategies for individuals of all levels. The optimal use of these exercises depend individual goals, fitness level, and familiarity with certain movements.

It is recommended that resistance training programs include single- and multi-joint free weight and machine exercises for novice, intermediate, and advanced individuals. Resistance training should otherwise follow the general sequencing guidelines of hypertrophy training (see: order of exercises).

Order of exercises

Exercise order plays a key role in resistance training especially when training with heavy loads. Multi-joint exercises generate significant stabilization of muscles that may not be activated during single-joint exercises. Studies have also shown that performance in compound exercises decline when performed later in the training session (after exercises targeting the same muscle groups). Furthermore, multiple-joint exercises require more muscle mass and energy for optimal performance and proper technique. Therefore, these exercises should be performed early in the workout for the most benefit.

However, compound exercises rarely offer a sufficient training stimulus to all muscles involved in the movement. This is because some of the muscles remain at a relatively constant length during the movement. Single joint exercises can be used to isolate specific muscles and to achieve optimal length-tension relationship (relationship between muscle length and force production) and greater electromyography activity (greater motor unit activation) for muscle growth. This sequencing allows for better performance in more complex exercises, resulting in a stronger training stimulus for larger muscle groups. The following sequencing guidelines are recommended for all levels of training:

  • Targeting large muscle groups before small muscle groups.
  • Performing multi-joint exercises before single-joint exercises.
  • Performing intense exercises first (especially when targeting specific muscle groups within a single workout).
  • Performing power-specific exercises (e.g. Olympic lifts and other explosive movements) before basic strength and single-joint assistance exercises.
  • Utilizing various workout splits (e.g. whole body split, push/pull/legs split, upper/lower split, 4-day split, 5-day split, etc.).
  • Targeting weak points/training priorities before other exercises.

Certain exercises can also improve the performance and training stimulus of other exercises later on in the workout. For example, performing high-velocity movements first can lead to short-term improvements in neural activation. This so-called post-activation potentiation can lead to better performance in multi-joint movements in later on, which can be especially useful in power training where movement velocity is of high priority. However, performing high-velocity and high-intensity exercises back-to-back can reduce force and power due to fatigue. Because of this, it is recommended that explosive and complex exercises are performed first.

Although the order of exercises is well-established in muscular strength training and power training, less is understood concerning its effect on hypertrophy. The current evidence suggests that hypertrophy training follows similar sequencing guidelines as muscular strength training. 

Load 

Manipulating the training load has been shown to significantly change the acute metabolic, neural, hormonal, and cardiovascular effects of a workout. This makes training load one of the most important training variables hypertrophy, muscular strength, and local muscle endurance development. Training programs usually consist of one of the following loading schemes for progression: 1) increasing the load based on a percentage of one-repetition maximum (1 RM) of a certain exercise, 2) increasing the load based on a targeted number of repetitions, or 3) increasing the load within a targeted repetition zone (e.g. 8–12 RM). Each percentage of the 1RM corresponds to a certain number of maximum repetitions. These ranges are typically categorized as low (<30% 1RM, >20 repetitions), moderate (30–70% 1RM, 11–20 repetitions) and high (>70% 1RM, <11 repetitions). 

Several loading schemes and training types have been proven effective for hypertrophy adaptations. Total work, in combination with mechanical loading, has been shown to significantly increase both muscular strength and hypertrophy. This is supported by evidence showing that high-volume multiple-set programs produce greater improvements in hypertrophy among resistance trained individuals than low-volume, single-set programs. Similarly, traditional resistance training (high load, low repetition, long rest periods) has shown significant improvements in hypertrophy. However, this may not be the optimal training method for increasing lean muscle mass. Although both single- and multi-set programs have shown increases in hypertrophy among novice and untrained individuals, to date, no study has shown single-set training to be superior to multiple-set training. 

To maximize increases in lean muscle mass, several acute training variables (e.g. load/volume) can be manipulated to provide optimal mechanical and metabolic conditions for muscle growth. Hypertrophy training traditionally consists of relatively high volume, moderate-to-very high loading, with short rest periods between sets. This has been shown to elicit greater increases in testosterone and growth hormone when compared to low-volume, high-resistance training with long (~3mins) rest periods. Although both mechanical load and total work seem to increase muscle hypertrophy, it appears that traditional resistance training (high load, low repetition, and long rest periods) alone may not be optimal for increasing lean muscle mass. It seems that a combination of traditional resistance training (with an emphasis on mechanical load) and hypertrophy training (emphasizing on total work) utilizing various loading/volume schemes is most effective for optimizing hypertrophy during advanced stages of training. 

The general recommendation for novice and intermediate individuals is to use moderate loading (70-85% 1RM) for 8-12 repetitions per set, and repeated one to three times per exercise. Advanced individuals may increase training load to 70-100% 1RM for 1-12 repetitions, and repeat for 3-6 times per exercise. Additionally, these exercises should be performed in a periodized manner with an emphasis on the 6-12 loading, and less emphasis on the 1-6 RM repetition range.  

Volume

Training volume describes the sum of repetitions performed in a workout multiplied by the resistance (kg/lbs) used. This also makes training volume a good indicator of the duration of which muscles are under stress. Training volume has been shown to significantly impact the hypertrophic, hormonal, and metabolic responses to resistance training as well as the resulting physical adaptations. This is also supported by findings that when training volume is increased and other training variables remain the same, muscles receive a stronger anabolic (muscle growing) stimulus due to increased time-under-tension.

Both single and multi-set programs have shown increases in muscle hypertrophy among novice to intermediate individuals. However, the hypertrophic effect appears to be more pronounced when multi-set programs are used. Hypertrophy training traditionally consists of moderate to very high loading and relatively high volume with short rest intervals between sets. This is believed to induce the greater metabolic response (increased testosterone, growth hormone, and protein synthesis) for muscle growth than high-resistance, low-repetition sets with long (3min) rest periods between sets. 

To maximize muscle growth, several acute training variables (e.g. load/volume) should be varied in order to provide a sufficient mechanical and metabolic stimulus, especially at advanced stages of resistance training. This can be done by 1) changing the number of repetitions per set, 2) changing the number of sets per exercise, and/or 3) changing the number of exercises per workout. Although training volume offers a positive dose-response relationship for hypertrophy, more research is needed to understand when hypertrophic adaptations start to plateau and the risk of overtraining syndrome starts to increase. 

The general recommended hypertrophy training volume for novice and intermediate individuals is 8-12 repetitions per set using moderate training loads (70–85% of 1 RM) for 1-3 sets per exercise. Advanced individuals may vary their training volume by using several loading schemes depending on their goals. The general recommendations for advanced individuals is performing 1-12 high-resistance repetitions (70–100% of 1 RM) per set for 3-6 sets per exercise, and performed in a periodized manner. Here, the emphasis should be on the 6-12 RM range, with less focus on 1-6 RM.

Rest

Rest duration between sets can significantly impact the metabolic and hormonal responses to a resistance training bout. This, in turn, affects the long-term physical adaptations of an exercise program. Although the impact of rest is well established in muscular strength and power training, less is known about its effect on hypertrophy.

Studies have compared training programs with different recovery periods between sets (30s-5mins) and found similar improvements in muscle cross-sectional area (CSA). Moderate-to-high intensity and volume training with short rest periods (1-2mins) appears to elicit the greatest acute anabolic hormonal response in comparison to high-intensity training with long rest periods. This, in turn, is considered more important for hypertrophy than chronic changes in the program. This also means that hypertrophy can be trained using a variety of intensities and rest intervals. Because the goal of hypertrophy training is to produce an anabolic environment, it is fundamentally different to muscular strength or power training.

The general recommended rest duration between sets is 1-2mins for novice and intermediate individuals. For advanced training, the rest duration should correspond to individual training goals. For heavy loading and core exercises, a 2-3-minute rest is recommended. For other moderate to moderately high intensity exercises, a 1-2min rest periods may be sufficient.

Type of muscle action

The vast majority of training programs consist of dynamic concentric (muscle shortening) and eccentric (muscle lengthening) muscle actions. Isometric (no change in muscle length) muscle actions play a secondary part in maintaining stability of active muscles. Eccentric muscle actions produce the greatest amount of tension of all muscle action types. They also require less motor unit activation, making them metabolically less demanding. Although eccentric muscle actions are considered effective in promoting hypertrophy, the higher muscle tension also causes a greater degree of delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS) in comparison to concentric actions. 

The strength and hypertrophy improvements seem to be the greatest when dynamic concentric actions are combined with eccentric actions (i.e. has a lowering and lifting phase). However, eccentric-isokinetic (contraction remains constant while muscle length changes) exercises seem to induce greater gains in muscle-specific actions than concentric training, whereas isometric exercises (e.g. functional isometrics, supra-maximal exercises) may be beneficial in certain situations (e.g. treatment of lower back pain due to the recruitment of spinal-stabilization muscles). Overall, it seems that the type of muscle action has minimal effects in a training program. 

It is recommended that a combination of concentric, eccentric, and isometric muscle actions are included in a training program for all fitness levels.

Repetition velocity 

Repetition velocity can be roughly divided into fast (<1s eccentric contraction: 1s concentric contraction), moderate (1:2), slow (5:5), and very slow (10:5-10:10) movements. However, there seems to be a significant amount of variability between exercises and movement velocity.

Slow movement velocities can be divided into two categories; unintentional and intentional. Unintentionally slow velocity contractions occur when movement speed is hindered by fatigue or high training load. This also means that relative training load is inversely related to movement velocity in maximal muscle contractions. Intentionally slow movement velocities increase time-under-tension when a submaximal load is lifted in a slow and controlled manner. According to studies, intentionally slow movements display a significantly lower concentric force production as well as a corresponding neural activation, and a lower energy expenditure. This results in lower peak force and power, as well as fewer repetitions when compared self-selected velocity movements of matching intensity. This is based on a continuum where the number of in-set repetitions reduces proportionally as velocity decreases. These aforementioned effects may be a result of reduced motor unit activation. To ensure a sufficient training stimulus for strength progression especially among trained individuals, a 30% decrease in training load is recommended. Thus, allowing for the same number of in-set repetitions as moderate velocity training.

Moderate and fast movement velocities have shown greater performance improvements (volume, work and power output, number of repetitions) when compared to slow movement velocities. Therefore, it seems that faster movement velocities produce the greatest improvements in muscular strength. For hypertrophy, however, less is known regarding the optimal velocity of movement. It has been suggested that slow and moderate velocities pose a stronger training stimulus in comparison to fast velocities. However, the recommended reduction in load also results in a lesser metabolic and blood lactate response when total training time is equated. This indicates that hypertrophy can be effectively trained with a variety of movement velocities.

It is recommended that slow to moderate movement velocities are used for novice and intermediate levels of training. More advanced individuals may also include fast movement velocities depending on the load, repetitions, and training goals.

Frequency

Training frequency refers to the number of workouts performed, or the number of times specific muscle groups are targeted in a certain time frame (usually a week). The optimal training frequency varies according to training volume, intensity, fitness level, exercise selection, recovery ability, as well as the training split used.

Studies have shown that training three times per week results in greater strength improvements in comparison to training once or twice per week among untrained individuals. However, a training once or twice a week appears to be a sufficient maintenance frequency for individuals regularly participating in resistance training. It appears that the aforementioned resistance training frequency applies for both novice and intermediate individuals. Thus, other training variables (exercises choice, volume, intensity) seem to have a bigger impact for further strength development.

For advanced levels of resistance training, a frequency of three to four times per week may be beneficial provided that a suitable training split (e.g. 3 per week for whole body split, 4 per week for upper/lower split as long as each muscle group is trained at least twice per week) is used. The training frequency of very advanced individuals and elite-level athletes varies greatly depending on the activity and personal goals. High-frequency programs (4-6 sessions per week) may be beneficial as they allow for greater performance in each workout, while ensuring sufficient rest as well as time for food intake and nutritional supplementation. Furthermore, double-split programs (two workouts per day utilizing different muscle groups) have shown greater improvements in muscle cross-sectional area (CSA) in comparison to training once per day.

As a general recommendation, novice and intermediate individuals should train 2-3 times per week when a total body workout is used. When using an upper/lower split, training frequency may be increased to 4 times per week (each major muscle group trained twice per week). For advanced levels of training, a frequency of 4-6 may be used depending on the training split and individual needs. However, a higher training frequency also requires careful planning to ensure each major muscle group is trained twice per week (e.g. 1-3 muscle groups trained per workout) whilst allowing for sufficient recovery. 

Drop sets are one of the most effective methods to build muscle mass.

Best methods to train muscular hypertrophy

Muscular hypertrophy training requires medium-to-heavy resistance with more repetitions and shorter rest periods than muscular strength training. This ensures that you can fully exhaust the muscles and cause microtears (small tears inside the muscle). This will help kickstart muscle rebuilding and make them stronger than before (supercompensation). In addition to traditional “straight set” weight training, muscular hypertrophy can be effectively trained with drop sets, pyramid sets and a variety of different split training methods.

Straight sets

Straight sets are the most common and simple to use training methods for improving strength. The biggest benefit of this is that it uses the same amount of weight and repetitions during each set. This makes them great for beginners and more experienced athletes alike. You can also design your workouts according to the effect you want it to have. More weight increases maximum strength whereas smaller weight and more repetitions focus on building more muscle mass. Naturally, the same principle can be used for endurance training as well.

Straight sets can also be combined in various ways to create supersets, trisets or giant sets that utilize back-to-back exercises that stimulate different muscle groups with no breaks in between. Supersets refer to performing two exercises with no break in between whereas tri-sets consist of three back-to-back exercises. Giant sets, however, consist of four or more exercises with no rest in between. The benefit of these exercises is that you can keep your heart rate up while only focusing on a certain muscle group at a time. 

Drop sets

Drop sets are exercises that are performed to failure and then reducing weight 10-30% to perform more repetitions with less weight. This ensures that you can keep stimulating the muscles with smaller weights even after they have been exhausted.

Drop sets can also be divided into two variations; wide drop sets and narrow drop sets. Wide drop sets are exercises where the resistance reduces around 30% from set to set. Narrow drop sets, on the other hand, have a smaller change of 10-25% between each set. However, it is important to note that these definitions are not exact and therefore used somewhat freely.

Drop sets often done with weight machines because you can reduce the amount of resistance very quickly. However, they can still be effectively trained with dumbbells and free weights.

Pyramid set training

Pyramid set training describes exercises that change 5-10% in weight from set to set. Usually, these exercises start with less weight and more repetitions while slowly growing in resistance. Of course, as you add more weight the number of repetitions will become lower. After a few sets, the resistance will decrease again. This will make sure that you can still perform a few extra repetitions to maximize muscle growth.

Pyramid training is often divided into wide pyramids and narrow pyramids, which describe the changes in resistance or repetitions from set to set. Wide pyramids have a wider range of repetitions and weights during a single session whereas narrow pyramids have a smaller change from set to set.

Pyramids are also the only training method that sometimes uses weights above the maximum amount of weight you can lift (110%). Therefore, it can also be effectively used maximal strength training. Changing the resistance in a single workout session is especially effective because it offers a varied stimulus for the muscle. Some athletes even perform reverse pyramid sets to challenge themselves more.

Split training

Split training describes splitting specific muscle group or body part workout sessions for a certain day of the week. This means that you can let certain muscle groups recover while training others. Split training can be divided in a few different ways. The most common being the upper body/lower split, agonist/antagonist split and push/pull split.

Upper body/lower body split alternates between upper body and lower body training in a single workout day. It is also an effective way to improve general fitness rather than your athletic performance.

Agonist/antagonist split (the muscle responsible for a movement/its opposing muscle) works out opposite muscle groups between training sessions. For example, a bicep day followed by a tricep day. Agonist/antagonist splits are often divided into three workouts a week.

Push/pull split (or sometimes push/pull/legs split) usually involves both upper and lower body exercises during a single workout day. However, one day focuses on pushing motions whereas the next session concentrates on pulling exercises. For example, focusing on curls & rows on one day and biceps, triceps & shoulders the next day.

”Muscular hypertrophy training relies on fully exhausting the muscle - and then doing a few more repetitions.”

You can also split your workouts between every major muscle group; legs, core, chest, shoulders and arms. In this case, each training session aims to fully exhaust the muscles to cause microtears and stimulate growth, while giving other muscle groups time to recover and rebuild. This is also known as a body-part split, and it is often used in bodybuilding due to its ability to significantly increase contractable muscle mass. On the other hand, there are countless split training variations for the advanced trainer.

However, studies have shown that multiple weekly training sessions for the same muscle groups are more effective for overall strength development. These compound exercises (utilizes more than one muscle group) are often better for athletes. Therefore, isolated exercises that focus on a single muscle are better for size, not strength.

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Physiological effects of muscular hypertrophy training

Muscular hypertrophy training increases the size of a single muscle cell and eventually the whole cross-sectional area (CSA) of the muscle itself, leading to a stronger muscle contraction. However, most studies have concluded that the actual amount of muscle cells does not change even under extreme physical stress. Training for more muscle mass can also have other physiological effects on your body such as; enhanced anaerobic energy production, reduced delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS), improved injury prevention, increased caloric expenditure and higher anabolic hormone levels.

Anaerobic energy production describes how well your body can perform using anaerobic (without oxygen) energy sources. Not only does regular strength training improve your anaerobic endurance, but it also increases the amount of Adenosine Triphosphate (ATP), Creatine Phosphate (CP), free Creatine and Glycogen inside the muscles. This means that they can be used for energy production more efficiently during exercise. Muscular hypertrophy training also improves your lactic acid tolerance to and ability to resist fatigue. 

Delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS) describes the muscle soreness you experience after an intense workout. Its main cause are the small micro-tears that occur inside the muscles after training, especially if the training involved heavy resistance or performing at your maximum effort. However, heavyweight training can significantly reduce the soreness you experience, which means you are able to train harder and more often. 

Improved injury prevention is a great benefit of muscular hypertrophy training. The reason behind this is that working out with heavier weights also strengthens your bones, joints and ligaments. This means that your body is strong enough to withstand the forces it faces even during the most intense physical performance. 

Increased caloric expenditure is a result of increased muscle mass in the body. And, since muscle tissue uses more energy than fat cells even while resting, it also promotes a healthy body composition. 

Higher anabolic hormone levels are a natural result of strength training. Because anabolic hormones, such as testosterone, are growth hormones, they can provide a significant boost in bone density, muscle mass and strength development. 

Aside from the physical benefits of added muscular hypertrophy, it can also have a significant impact on your mental health. This is due to the fact that increased muscle mass and a better physique can have a positive effect on how you see yourself. Muscular hypertrophy related training also encourages to focus on nutrition, which can open up a whole new avenue for overall health improvement. 

You need rest and plenty of nutrition to build more muscle.

Samples of muscular hypertrophy training programs

Are you interested in building muscle mass and getting stronger? Well, you’ve found the right page for it! Here you can find some sample training programs that will kickstart your training. Just click on the tab that interests you the most and get training!

Intermediate leg training routine

1. Squat

  • Weight at 70% of your maximum
  • 8 repetitions
  • 3 sets
  • 2mins of rest between sets

2. Leg extension

  • Weight at 70% of your maximum
  • 8 repetitions
  • 3 sets
  • 2mins of rest between sets

3. Seated Leg press

  • Weight at 70% of your maximum
  • 8 repetitions
  • 3 sets
  • 2mins of rest between sets

4. Lunge

  • Weight at 70% of your maximum
  • 8 repetitions
  • 3 sets
  • 2mins of rest between sets

5. Seated leg curl

  • Weight at 70% of your maximum
  • 8 repetitions
  • 3 sets
  • 2mins of rest between sets

Intermediate chest routine

1. Cable crossover

  • Weight at 70% of your maximum
  • 6 repetitions
  • 4 sets
  • 2mins rest between sets

2. Bench press

  • Weight at 70% of your maximum
  • 6 repetitions
  • 4 sets
  • 2mins rest between sets

3. Incline dumbbell press

  • Weight at 70% of your maximum
  • 6 repetitions
  • 4 sets
  • 2mins rest between sets

4. Peck deck flies

  • Weight at 70% of your maximum
  • 6 repetitions
  • 4 sets
  • 2mins rest between sets

Intermediate pyramid leg routine 1

1. Squats

  • Set 1: 8 repetitions at 60% of your maximum
  • Set 2: 6 repetitions at 70% of your maximum
  • Set 3: 4 repetition at 80% of your maximum
  • Set 4: 8 repetitions at 70% of your maximum
  • Set 5: 6 repetitions at 60% of your maximum
  • Rest for 2mins between sets

2. Leg extensions

  • Set 1: 8 repetitions at 60% of your maximum
  • Set 2: 6 repetitions at 70% of your maximum
  • Set 3: 4 repetition at 80% of your maximum
  • Set 4: 8 repetitions at 70% of your maximum
  • Set 5: 6 repetitions at 60% of your maximum
  • Rest for 2mins between sets

3. Leg curls

  • Set 1: 8 repetitions at 60% of your maximum
  • Set 2: 6 repetitions at 70% of your maximum
  • Set 3: 4 repetition at 80% of your maximum
  • Set 4: 8 repetitions at 70% of your maximum
  • Set 5: 6 repetitions at 60% of your maximum
  • Rest for 2mins between sets

4. Leg press

  • Set 1: 8 repetitions at 60% of your maximum
  • Set 2: 6 repetitions at 70% of your maximum
  • Set 3: 4 repetition at 80% of your maximum
  • Set 4: 8 repetitions at 70% of your maximum
  • Set 5: 6 repetitions at 60% of your maximum
  • Rest for 2mins between sets

Advanced arms superset routine

1. Bicep curls & weighted dips

  • Weight at 70% of your maximum
  • 8 repetitions
  • Perform both exercises back-to-back
  • 4 sets
  • 2mins rest between each set

2. Bench press & cable rows

  • Weight at 70% of your maximum
  • 8 repetitions
  • Perform both exercises back-to-back
  • 4 sets
  • 2mins rest between each set

3. Weighted pull-ups & incline bench press

  • Weight at 70% of your maximum
  • 8 repetitions
  • Perform both exercises back-to-back
  • 4 sets
  • 2mins rest between each set

Intermediate arms drop set

1. Bicep curls

  • Set 1: 12 repetitions at 80% of maximum
  • Set 2: As many repetitions as possible at 60% of maximum
  • Set 3: As many repetitions as possible at 40% of maximum
  • 2mins rest between exercises

2. Barbell row

  • Set 1: 12 repetitions at 80% of maximum
  • Set 2: As many repetitions as possible at 60% of maximum
  • Set 3: As many repetitions as possible at 40% of maximum
  • 2mins rest between exercises

3. Lat pulldowns

  • Set 1: 12 repetitions at 80% of maximum
  • Set 2: As many repetitions as possible at 60% of maximum
  • Set 3: As many repetitions as possible at 40% of maximum
  • 2mins rest between exercises

4. Incline dumbbell press

  • Set 1: 12 repetitions at 80% of maximum
  • Set 2: As many repetitions as possible at 60% of maximum
  • Set 3: As many repetitions as possible at 40% of maximum
  • 2mins rest between exercises

Note that we are not responsible for any injuries that may occur during these drills or practices. Always remember to train within your own limits and at the guidance of a professional instructor. 

Utilize the muscle's full range of motion to prevent it from becoming stiff.

Suitability for developing athletes and physical education

Consistent and varied training is essential for developing athletes since it creates a foundation for sports-specific skills to improve upon. Additionally, since you grow taller and heavier you must also maintain an adequate level of strength, especially in the core, if you want to become better and stay healthy in the process.

While strength training is often regarded as unsafe for growing athletes, there’s little science to back up this claim. In fact, both muscular strength and muscular hypertrophy training can be perfectly safe as long as you make sure that your technique is in order and you don’t use too much resistance too quickly. And, just like with any other training methods, muscular hypertrophy training has to be periodized correctly for the most benefit.

But you have to remember that heavy resistance training can be very straining for your muscles, joints and ligaments. That is why any heavy resistance training requires professional guidance. It may even be smart to teach younger athletes to assist others in lifting to gain a deeper knowledge of how the human body works.

With this in mind, muscular hypertrophy training can be somewhat utilized in physical education as well. As long as the resistance is moderate and the repetitions are higher, there’s not a serious risk of injury. Teaching students the basics of increasing muscle mass can even provide a great motivational boost for an active lifestyle.

Final thoughts

Muscular hypertrophy training is a great way of increasing muscle mass and strength at the same time. So, if your sport or your playing position could benefit from added muscle mass, there’s no reason why you shouldn’t incorporate muscular hypertrophy training into your workout routine. On the other hand, if your goal is to be as strong as possible without any bulkiness you might be better off focusing on muscular strength training.

In addition to the progressive overload principle of strength training, the most important factors in building muscle are nutrition and rest. Both of them are crucial in order to maintain muscle growth. If you can balance these factors accordingly, you can easily keep developing your muscle mass faster – and without injuries. So, eat lots of clean ingredients and have plenty of rest to reap the full benefits of your training.

Did you learn anything new about muscular hypertrophy training? Let us know in the comments below!

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