Hypertrophy is the enlargement of a person’s muscle due to an increase in the size of the muscle cells. While it may sound like a foreign or complicated term, hypertrophy is just a way to describe the effects of a somewhat traditional style of strength training where the individual increases the workload on a set of muscles over time (weeks/months) to increase bulk. Think power lifting.
How Hypertrophy Works
Hypertrophy, in layman’s terms, is just your body adapting to the continual increase in workload you place on it. As you continue exercising your muscles, the fibers will tear, rebuild, become larger, and will be able to handle heavier weight. Someone just beginning their weight training expedition can actually see rapid and impressive results early on by using the tips we are about to discuss.
The principles of hypertrophy are simple:
1. Overload your muscles to create tension
2. Maintain consistent stimulation of your muscle groups
3. Progressively increase the load you’re putting on your muscles.
When practicing targeted hypertrophy, concentrate on certain muscles and muscle groups throughout your week, isolate, and hit them hard. Some fitness experts endorse working and reworking muscle groups every 72-96 hours before atrophy can take hold and eliminate your hard earned gains.
Tips to Make the Most of Hypertrophy
Hypertrophy at its core is very simple and by sticking to the three principles listed above you can enjoy its muscle engorging effects. Here are a couple tips to help you maximize the effects of hypertrophy.
Reps and Rest
When it comes to hypertrophy, you want to focus on your fast twitch (type II) muscle fibers which have the greatest potential for growth. Type II fibers are utilized when your body is forced to employ its maximum force to perform a task. So in order to target your fast twitch fibers you want to load up heavy weights and perform low reps. These muscle fibers fatigue the fastest and take longer to recover between sets so you need to adjust accordingly. For maximum results, lift weights that you can just get about 8 reps up and rest for around one minute to 90 seconds.
Protect those gains. Make sure you are getting plenty of protein before as well as after your workout. There are two important types of protein: whey and casein. Whey is what typically comes in your protein powders and breaks down more quickly than casein. Consume a little bit of whey protein (via powder or eggs, etc...) right before a workout and also take in plenty immediately following your workout. Casein is the other piece of the muscle puzzle. Casein is found in dairy products like milk and cheeses. After your workout, continue to ingest protein via dairy throughout your day to keep your body from eating its own muscles away.
When you reach the peak of your movement you should pause and squeeze it out and then contract slowly for greatest gains. Negatives are a great secret for tearing muscle fibers to shreds and get those bad boys enlarged.
KISS (Keep It Simple Stupid)
Above all else, remember the three principles listed at the start of the article and keep chugging away. If you stick to it and integrate the above tips, you’ll be seeing results in no time!