During the course of your in-studio or online personal training, you’re going to hear your instructor mention hypertrophy training. This is not a reference to some kind of awesome workout award; it’s a training technique used by competitive athletes around the world to bring themselves to their peak performance levels at the time of competition, and by personal trainers like us at Pledge To Fitness® to help our clients get the most out of their workouts. Let’s take a look at what it is and why it works:
Hypertrophy Training and Periodization
To understand hypertrophy training in context, we need to briefly mention periodization training. The “period” in periodization training refers to a chunk of time–at Pledge To Fitness®, it’s several months–during which you mix up the amount of weight, the reps, the intensity, and other variables of your workout. This keeps your body from getting used to the routine and limiting your gains, while at the same time preventing overtraining.
So hypertrophy training is one of the ways we shift gears with your workout. It’s one of the five phases of periodization training during which we focus on building strength and developing muscle.
How Hypertrophy Training Works
Unlike strength training, which is designed to increase a muscle’s ability to produce force, hypertrophy training is about increasing the size of the muscle itself. We do this by ramping up the volume of exercises and the amount of weight, while reducing the rest periods between sets. This actually micro-tears the muscles, which the body then repairs and builds back stronger.
A hypertrophy session targeting the upper body (training sessions are designed to target specific muscle groups) might include:
- Barbell Bench Press
- Incline Barbell Bench Press
- Standing Tricep Cable Extensions
- Standing Upright Barbell Row
You might do 3-5 sets of each, with 8-12 reps each set, at 75-85% intensity with a max of 2 minutes’ rest in between sets. In contrast, in a strength training workout you could do all of these same exercises except you would increase the intensity to 85-95% by adding weight, reducing the reps to 4-6 per set, and resting for up to 5 minutes in between sets.
The Benefits of Hypertrophy Training
There are some obvious benefits to having bigger muscles: you’re stronger and you look better in a T-shirt.
But you’ll reap a lot of other benefits too, such as better endurance, healthier joints and soft tissue muscles, and even more ability to lose weight, as the more muscle you have, the more calories you burn.
We find that periodization in general poses a great way to avoid getting into a workout rut, where you’re doing the same things week after week. After hypertrophy training, you’ll move on to the next phase…
Build Muscle at Pledge To Fitness®
If getting ‘ripped’, ‘shredded’, ‘jacked’, or whatever other slang for ‘muscle-bound’ is on your wishlist, hypertrophy training can get you there, and Pledge To Fitness® can be your guide.
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