Hypertrophy training is by far the most popular type of exercise for most male gym goers. This is not surprising, because hypertrophy training has the reputation of being particularly well suited if you want to effectively build muscle mass . In fact, if used correctly, it deserves its reputation.
The problem, however, is that many do not know the background and therefore do not know what to look for when training. This can lead to errors and suboptimal training results. For this reason, I have written the following article so that you know why, when and how you can optimally use hypertrophy training for your strength training. This is how you manage to reduce your muscle building duration to a minimum.
Definition of hypertrophy training
The term hypertrophy medically describes the increase in size of an organ (e.g. the muscles) or a tissue due to an enlargement of the cells (see definition of hypertrophy at Wikipedia). Hypertrophy is one of the two organic forms of growth. The other form is hyperplasia. While the cell volume increases in hypertrophy, the number of cells increases in hyperplasia. In weight training, hypertrophy is also known as muscle growth.
Hypertrophy training is therefore about training in such a way that the largest possible increase in muscle cross-section can be achieved. This works through specific training with the right intensity and adapted recovery times.
Hypertrophy training is THE muscle building training
Anyone who trains with the goal of building muscle probably wants two things: More strength and larger / thicker muscles. A type of training that specifically stimulates muscle growth is the first choice for this goal. In addition, the muscle cross-section is also a decisive influencing factor for the strength performance of the muscles.
There is no scientific evidence for the only alternative, hyperplasia. Although both types of growth can theoretically be caused by specific stress on the muscles, muscle growth due to hyperplasia could only be demonstrated in individual animal experiments. Such growth could not be induced in humans without the use of steroids. This means that there is no alternative to muscle hypertrophy for the natural increase in muscle mass.
If your strength training is primarily about increasing strength and less about muscle mass, then you should also do maximum strength training deal with it.
The right intensity is what counts
Hypertrophy training involves training with a relatively high training intensity. Various studies suggest a performance range of approx. 70-80% in order to achieve the maximum effect. This corresponds approximately to a repetition number of 8-12 repetitions. However, there is also literature that suggests a more generous performance range of 60-85% of maximum strength, which corresponds to a rep range of 6-15 repetitions.
Personally, I have had the best experience in the range of 6-10 repetitions. Once I’ve done 10 reps (or more), the next time I’ll add the weight. If I can’t do the 6 repetitions with one weight, then the weight has to be reduced, even if I find it difficult at times.
In contrast to strength endurance training , the scope should be kept lower when training with high intensity. To do this, you should make your breaks between sentences a little longer. Always give your muscles around 2-3 minutes to recover between sets of hypertrophy training. The best way to do this is to use a workout timer.
Sufficient training volume for effective muscle growth
In addition to the intensity, the training volume also plays a decisive role in promoting muscle hypertrophy through muscle building training . Your muscles will only be stimulated to grow if there is a sufficiently large stimulus in the muscles through enough training volume.
Basically, “more is better” applies to volume. However, there is a minimum amount to kick start muscle growth. For large muscle groups, this is around ten work sets per week. This actually also applies to smaller muscles, which, however, are already used when training the main muscles.
With around six work sets per muscle group and exercise and eight per muscle group and training unit, the marginal utility is already quite small. From an efficiency point of view, you shouldn’t exceed this volume. Otherwise, for possibly slightly better muscle growth, you have a significantly greater risk of overtraining.
Is hypertrophy training possible with your own body weight?
I’ve heard this question many times. The doubts are obvious, since with a little training experience with classic bodyweight exercises you can quickly manage more than 10 repetitions. Even with the demanding pull-up training you will get into the double-digit range with a little practice.
But it is quite possible to make your muscles fail with just a few repetitions, even with some training experience. There are different approaches for this:
If you want to learn more about this topic, I recommend my article ” Effective muscle building – strength training with your own body weight “.
Hypertrophy training is (also) useful in the diet
Hypertrophy training as training with the goal of maximum muscle thickness growth seems at first to be rather moderately suitable as part of a reduction diet. In fact, hypertrophy training is the best way to lose as little muscle mass as possible during such a diet. After all, when you lose weight, your main goal is to lose fat and maintain your muscles if possible. Contrary to common misconceptions, hypertrophy training is therefore also the method of choice if you want to define your muscles .
In addition to adequate and correct training, an increased protein intake of at least 2.5 to 3 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight is important for maintaining the muscles. One or the other protein shake (such as the WPI-90 whey protein isolate from S.U. *) as a dietary supplement can be useful.
You can find out more about this topic in our article on Muscle maintenance in the diet .
You shouldn’t only train for hypertrophy
A lot helps a lot, one might think, and because of the advantages of hypertrophy training, simply train continuously according to this principle. In fact, many hobby strength athletes do exactly this and seem to have great success with it. However, most of them are not aware of the possibility that a different approach could have led to even greater success. So that you don’t feel like that, I would like to suggest a more versatile design of your training plan.
In fact, changes and also a change in your type of training are good and important for your training. Regularly training your strength endurance and your maximum strength in phases brings various advantages. This can have a positive effect on your psyche, your health and actually also on your muscle growth.
It is best to read the following articles to learn more about the purpose of these two alternative types of training:
That is why it is extremely important to have a good medium- and long-term training plan that brings you closer to your goal quickly.
What does a good hypertrophy training plan look like?
A good hypertrophy training plan is actually pretty simple to put together. The same requirements apply to the exercises as to any other strength training plan. A good mix of complex basic exercises , such as squats , deadlifts or shoulder press , as a basis for your muscle building and selective Isolation exercises to set specific priorities. The most important thing is that you choose the level of difficulty for the exercises so that your muscles are exhausted after about 6-10 repetitions.
As always, a balanced training of the various muscle groups is important. Otherwise it is of course possible to design your muscle building training plan as a full body training or in the form of a split training .
Our free training plans for beginners and advanced users are of course also very good for endurance training. To our training plans .
Your conclusion on hypertrophy training
As you can see, good and effective hypertrophy training is not rocket science and it really moves you forward when it comes to building muscle.
I hope I was able to answer some of your questions with this article and help you to use it even more efficiently in your training planning in the future. Always remember that the right way of training is also necessary when using this training principle and that it makes sense to alternate it with other types of training.
If you don’t waste any more time and want to start building muscle now, you should take a look at my book Muscle Building Basics . In it you will find out the most important things that you need to know and pay attention to for building muscle. It is the first real “no bullshit” guide for effective muscle building. There are also my most effective training plans for rapid muscle building.
Until then, good luck with your training!