Hypertrophy is just a fancy way of talking about the growth of muscle cells. This growth is most successfully encouraged with a progressive muscle training and sound nutrition program. With use, muscles build bulk by the construction or enlargement of muscle tissue. As you would expect, results will vary with gender and genetic make up. That means men will generally build more bulk than women and some men will build more bulk than others. Still, every body is capable of hypertrophy. How can you encourage this process in your fitness program? The following strategies will help you build muscle safely.
Try Resistance Training
According to ACE Fitness higher resistance programs lead to greater hypertrophy. Unlike with resistance training to gain muscle endurance (which requires fewer sets and more reps with brief rest periods) or muscle strength training (which requires more sets with fewer reps and longer rest periods) building hypertrophy requires something in the middle. ACE Fitness expert Jessica Matthews recommends 3 to 6 sets with 8 to 12 reps and 30 to 90 second rest periods. Your muscles should be fatigued by the time you reach the final set. According to the Georgia State University Department of Kinesiology and Health the fatigue stimulates chemical reactions and protein metabolism that encourage hypertrophy. If you experience too much fatigue in early sets, consider reducing the weight until your body adapts to the conditioning routine.
Do Some Deadlifts
Deadlifts and squats are great for hypertrophy because both exercises target the largest muscles in the body. When deadlifting choose a barbell that is appropriate for your fitness level. Keep your back flat as you lift the weight toward your hips. If you have knee trouble front squats may be easier to manage than back squats. Front squats may also make it easier to maintain your balance and prevent injury. As always, choose the most appropriate weight for where you are now in your training.
Value Quality over Quantity
Quality counts with resistance training. It is better to use a smaller weight with correct form than a larger weight with incorrect form. Incorrect form can lead to injury and may not even target the muscles you are working to build. Progressive, consistent training is important for hypertrophy. Aim to understand and start from your current level of fitness.
Atrophy begins to set in in as few as 72 hours. Don’t let hard won muscle gains become lost by lying around on the couch. Aim to work every body part, or at least the priority muscles, a minimum of twice each week.
Feed your Muscles
Don’t forget to fuel and refuel with quality protein. Muscle and Fitness recommends 20 grams of fast digesting whey protein before your workout and 40 to 60 grams of a protein blend soon after the workout is done. Your needs may be different so experiment to find the best fueling strategy for your body and fitness goals.
The term hypertrophy has been around for more than 100 years and the methods have been around even longer. The human body is meant to work. How you describe that work doesn’t matter. That you do the work, especially if you want to improve and extend your quality of life, does matter.