Hypertrophy means increasing muscle tissue cell size. It is a type of training that you can complete that will allow muscle cell size to increase as a result of both moderate to high reps. With hypertrophy, it's typical to see sets of 3-6 with reps ranging from 8-12.
We can also find shorter rest periods in hypertrophy training because this allows the muscle to be fully fatigued without complete recovery in between sets. More stress on the muscle fibers with less rest and recovery can result in more microfiber tears, which in turn will help your body repair those tears, therefore allowing your body to build that muscle tissue up bigger than before.
Shorter rest periods are also what is going to give you that nice “pump.” Protein intake is important with hypertrophy training because protein holds reparative properties that will help us maximize recovery from training which will increase those gains.
HOW TO FULLY ACCOMPLISH HYPERTROPHY
Sets and Reps
With hypertrophy training, you will see a strategic number of sets and reps. Ideal reps for hypertrophic effects can look like 6 to 12 reps and roughly 3 to 4 sets, this is going to fatigue the muscles by overworking them which can cause more micro fiber tears which will grow the muscle fibers bigger with proper recovery.
The eccentric portion of a movement is when your muscle is being lengthened, while also contracted. It’s the part of the movement that is easier than the concentric portion (think how it’s easier to lower a barbell, vs when you push the barbell back up.) Taking our time and moving slowly through the eccentric portion of your movements is going to increase those fiber tears which then increases muscle cell size, thus leading to lean muscle gain.
Training the main muscle groups 2 to 3 times per week is going to help with our hypertrophic effects because we are fatiguing and recovering the muscles, which is going to help them grow with repetition and consistency. It’s important to remember that you shouldn’t train the same muscle group back-to-back. If your muscles don’t get enough time to repair and recover, you won’t allow those cells to build.
With hypertrophy training, you are going to want to train at around 70 to 80% intensity, or 70-80% of your 1 rep max. This can look like pushing yourself with weights that thoroughly challenge you, but not training until complete failure. You should be able to complete all reps in the set, but the last few reps should be very challenging to complete. You should feel like you NEED rest after each set!
In hypertrophic training it is important to train both compound lifts and our isolation lifts. Our compound lifts are going to recruit multiple muscle groups, which allows for us to physically move more weight. Lifting heavier = more muscle recruitment/growth. These will be our squats, our deadlifts, our bench presses, our overhead presses, etc. Movements where multiple muscles are involved. Training isolation movements is going to help isolate those smaller muscle groups and really fatigue those muscles. These can look like bicep curls, tricep extensions, lateral raises, Y raises, calf raises, etc.
Rest times between sets will be really important when focusing on building your strength and muscle size. It’s easy to skip over rest periods but make sure you are taking them! In a hypertrophy phase you want to be resting between 30-90 seconds between sets. Why? Resting between sets will allow your body to regenerate ATP aka energy, so you can recover enough to reintroduce the stimulus “exercise” with good form!
CAN HYPERTROPHY HELP ME LOSE WEIGHT?
Hypertrophy training is absolutely a strategic tool in weight loss. Building lean muscle tissue in the body helps your body metabolize and burn fat more efficiently at rest. Your body is constantly working when we put our muscles under stress and take the time to recover from that stress, so increasing muscle is the gift that keeps on giving. Lift heavy, prioritize recovery after your training sessions with good nutrition and water, and this can allow your muscles to grow optimally which will help your body shrink fat cells more efficiently.