With so many different forms of resistance training out there, this post is designed to help you understand some of the differences between the various methods so you can identify the specific kind of training that might be best suited for your goals.
Specifically we are going to discuss hypertrophy training.
Hypertrophy refers to the enlargement of an organ or tissue from the increase in size of its cells. Therefore hypertrophy training has to do with making the muscle larger in size.
How do we achieve this?
Most commonly hypertrophy training programs are going to focus on training with higher ranges of repetitions with less of a focus on lifting as heavy of weight as possible.
Higher repetitions ranges typically run anywhere from 6-12+ repetitions of each movement per set.
While this is effective, the repetition range is less important than bringing the muscle to failure.
Bringing the muscle to failure simply means that you are performing as many repetitions at any given rate as you can. You want to completely deplete the muscle cells of any energy they have.
When you do this repeatedly you are sending signals to your body that it needs to adapt- it doesn’t have enough energy to perform the tasks it is being given. Therefore it begins the process of rebuilding the muscle you are breaking down, but rebuilding stronger, rebuilding with more muscle fibers to store more energy so you can more easily complete future tasks.
Similar to building a house. If you build a house and that house is then destroyed by a storm, you are going to rebuild that house even stronger to withstand any future storms.
Several common misconceptions when it comes to hypertrophy training that include the notion that you don’t get stronger when training in higher rep ranges. While you are optimizing for growth in hypertrophy training, this does not mean that you don’t gain strength benefits. You may not be gaining the same level of benefits as higher weight in lower rep ranges- but especially if you are a new lifter, you can absolutely see improvements in strength by training for hypertrophy.
Another misconception is that you must train above 8-10 reps in order to grow the muscle. As we discussed above, the rep range itself is not as important as completely fatiguing the muscle and this can absolutely be done at lower rep ranges with higher weights. The reason that higher rep ranges are most often used is because it is often easier for people to achieve complete muscle failure with a lighter weight. It is mentally more difficult to motivate yourself to really push yourself to failure in higher weight ranges than are closer to your max effort weights.
Hypertrophy training is useful method for a variety of goals from weight loss to strength building.
Why do you need hypertrophy training for strength gains? Because a muscle is only as strong as it is big. If you want to get stronger, eventually you will be limited in strength by the size of the muscle itself. Therefore if you ultimate goal is to get stronger, you may benefit from including hypertrophy blocks into your training plan.
What you learned:
Hypertrophy training references building up the size of the muscle.
The most important component of building muscle size is bringing the muscle to failure during training- this can be done in low or high rep ranges but is most often seen programmed in high rep ranges.
You can achieve strength gains while hypertrophy training- they just may not be as fast.
Hypertrophy training is useful to achieve a variety of fitness goals including weight loss and strength building.
Hypertrophy training can be extraordinarily beneficial and hopefully this article is useful in helping you identify how hypertrophy training may help you reach your goals.
If you are unsure of exactly what kind of training is best suited to achieve your fitness goals, you can learn more about how online health coaching uses customized training programs that are tailored to your specific goals to enable you to achieve your best fitness.