If you are a regular at your local gym you more than likely have goals. For some, the goal is to build endurance and cardiovascular health, while for others the focus is on strength training.
If you’re looking to build muscle, you may have heard about hypertrophy workouts. But what are they, and how can they help you achieve your goals?
Hypertrophy is the increase in the size of muscle cells. This occurs when the fibers of the muscles are broken down and rebuilt, increasing both the number and size of the muscle cells. A hypertrophy workout routine is a type of training that promotes muscle growth.
The best exercises for hypertrophy, or muscle growth, are compound exercises that target multiple muscle groups. These exercises include moves such as squats, deadlifts, and presses.
Isolation exercises, which target a single muscle group, can also be effective for promoting muscle growth. However, compound exercises should be the focus of any workout designed to build muscle.
In addition to targeting multiple muscle groups, compound exercises also help to improve coordination and balance.
They also tend to be more efficient than isolation exercises, meaning you can get more work done in less time.
For these reasons, compound exercises should be the cornerstone of any workout regimen geared towards building muscle mass.
Two Types of Hypertrophy: Myofibrillar & Sarcoplasmic
Myofibrillar hypertrophy increases the number and size of muscle fibers. Sarcoplasmic hypertrophy leads to an increase in the amount of fluid and glycogen in the muscle cells.
Both types of hypertrophy increase muscle mass and can lead to strength gains. However, myofibrillar hypertrophy is more effective at improving strength and power (think 1RM). And sarcoplasmic hypertrophy is more associated with increased work capacity.
You can’t strictly train for one or the other. However, you can influence one side more by training in different rep ranges.
Hypertrophy: Volume vs. Intensity
When it comes to weightlifting, two key factors contribute to muscle growth, or hypertrophy: volume and intensity.
Volume refers to the total number of reps and sets that you do in a workout. And intensity is a measure of how hard you’re working. Typically expressed as a percentage of your one-rep max. So which is more important for building muscle?
As I’m sure you already guessed, both are very important for hypertrophy. While one is slightly more important than the other, you may see negative effects if you were to neglect either side of it.
When we walk into a gym we talk about how much we can lift or how many times can we lift it. However, that isn’t the only thing to think about when we are aiming for muscle growth.
“Muscle growth occurs due to cumulative tension stimulus over time,” explains Dr. Eric Helms, a researcher, natural bodybuilding coach
You can make your muscles work harder for longer periods by going to failure. When you bench press 225 pounds, the fibers in your chest and shoulders will be pushed to the max during all 5
reps. They will only be under load for 15 seconds each before they have finished contracting. But if we bench 190lbs for 10 successive strict and controlled reps will cause similar tension build-up across those same areas with a total duration lasting about 40+ seconds.
If you’re starting out, don’t worry – you can still see gains by focusing on volume first and adding intensity over time. For beginners, a training program with 3 sets of 10-12 reps at 60-70% of your one-rep max is a good place to start.
Remember, the key to success is consistency. So as long as you’re sticking to your workout routine and progressing, you’ll see results.
Optimal Rep Ranges for Hypertrophy
The number of reps you do when lifting weights can have a big impact on your results. If you’re looking to build muscle, traditionally 8-12 reps are most optimal. This range is the optimal hypertrophy range because it’s most effective for stimulating muscle growth.
When you lift weights in this rep range, you’re primarily working the muscles’ endurance capacity. You’re not lifting heavy enough weights to build strength, but you’re still putting enough stress on the muscles to force them to adapt and grow.
Of course, there are always exceptions to the rule. Some people may find that they respond better to higher or lower reps, depending on their physiology. For example, when doing compound lifts you may find yourself on the lower end of the rep ranges.
Don’t get too hung up on the rep ranges. Find what works best for you and lift in those ranges 70% of the time.
Also, lift heavier in 15% of those sets and about 15% in the lighter weight/higher rep ranges. If you stick to one thing for too long you will slow down results.
Top 2 Priorities for Hypertrophy Muscle building
When it comes to gaining muscle mass, both rest and nutrition are essential and often overlooked. Without adequate rest, your muscles will not have a chance to recover from your workouts and grow larger.
Similarly, if you are not eating enough calories or getting the right mix of nutrients, your body will not have the energy it needs to build new muscle tissue.
Therefore, to see results, you need to make sure that you are getting enough rest and eating a nutritious diet.
Get Plenty of Rest
There are a few things you can do to make sure you are getting enough rest. Make sure you are getting enough sleep each night. Aim for at least eight hours of sleep per night.
Schedule rest days into your workout routine. On these days, you can take a break from lifting weights and focus on other forms of exercise, such as cardio or stretching.
Also, try to avoid working out too close to bedtime. This will give your body time to wind down and get ready for sleep.
Good Calories & Balanced Diet
In terms of nutrition, there are a few key things to keep in mind. First, make sure you are eating enough calories. You need to consume more calories than you burn off each day to gain weight.
Second, eat a balanced diet that includes all the major food groups. This will ensure that your body is getting the nutrients it needs to build muscle.
Finally, don’t forget about protein. Protein is essential for muscle growth, so be sure to include plenty of sources of protein in your diet, such as meat, fish, eggs, and dairy products.
A hypertrophy workout is designed to increase the size of your muscles. If you are looking to bulk up, this type of routine can be a great place to start.
Be sure to give yourself plenty of time for recovery, as muscles need time to rebuild after being put through a strenuous workout.
Austin is the author of loveatfirstfit.com and a personal trainer with extensive knowledge in nutrition. Austin is passionate about helping others to find a suitable healthy lifestyle and feel good about themselves. Austin’s goal is to help people push their limits and achieve their physical performance.