Hypertrophy has become an increasingly popular term throughout the fitness community. It is the scientific name for the process of increasing the size of muscle cells and then building muscle. Building muscle is a key goal of bodybuilding.
Learn more about what the term hypertrophy means and why it is important in bodybuilding here.
Hypertrophy is muscle cell growth. Resistance training, such as weightlifting, causes micro-tears in muscle fibers that repair and rebuild stronger during recovery. Numerous parts of the body work together throughout the process of hypertrophy, or muscle growth.
Weightlifting and other types of muscular trauma activate the dormant cells in muscle fibers. The immune system responds with an inflammatory process to repair damaged fibers.
Simultaneously, the body releases hormones, including growth factors and testosterone, which increase the size of muscle cells, and, ultimately, the whole muscle. The growth factors tell the muscle’s satellite cells to bulk up the muscle fibers, while testosterone boosts the creation of protein molecules to repair injured muscle tissue.
Hypertrophy involves various hormones, cells, and proteins working together to rebuild muscles larger and stronger.
A significant goal of bodybuilding is to gain muscle. That’s why bodybuilders seek training methods that spark the hypertrophic response. Four key elements of hypertrophy training are frequency, volume, weight, and rest.
The number of times you work out per week affects muscle growth. To increase the size of a particular muscle group, work that region two to three times per week. Compound moves work several muscle groups to squeeze more muscles into a training session.
Some studies show that a higher volume of resistance training results in a superior hypertrophic response. An hour of lifting can spark a stronger response than 20 minutes, considering you’re lifting at the same intensity for the full hour.
The weight you lift is an essential factor in optimizing the hypertrophic response. Lifting a weight that is too light will not create the same gains as lifting heavier. Experts do not recommend, however, lifting your maximum weight for every muscle in every session.
Instead, they recommend varying your workouts with sets of varying weights and reps. Lifting one rep of your max weight and 20 reps at a lighter weight can result in more well-rounded muscular development. Focus particularly on the range between six and 12 reps.
Rest is when hypertrophy does its work. Take two minutes of rest between sets of compound moves and up to 90 seconds for isolation moves. Consider lifting three days per week to allow your muscles time to recover or alternating between lower-body lifting and upper-body lifting days. Recovery is a necessary factor in muscle growth.
There’s a reason hypertrophy has become a fitness buzzword, and that’s because it can result in impressive gains. Consider hiring a professional fitness trainer to assist in developing a safe and effective hypertrophy bodybuilding training plan. It may be the factor you've been missing in achieving your strength, fitness, and aesthetic goals.