For anyone who doesn’t know what hypertrophy is, it basically means muscle growth or increasing size through resistance training (i.e. lifting weights). Changes are dependent on the type of activity and muscle fiber types used, the load exerted on the muscle, and the velocity and duration of the contraction (Marieb, 2004). If you, (like me and most other people) started training in a commercial gym, you were probably shocked by the guys with the massive guns (aka muscles) and wondered how the hell they got like that. Well most likely those guys are training based on a hypertrophy program (or maybe they’re taking extra “supplements”) but the genuine ones are on a hypertrophy program and eating to match.
A typical hypertrophy program consists of workout sets with high volume reps. Ideally between 4/6 sets and between 8/12 reps in each set. Every machine, barbell, dumbbell, cable, resistance band can be used as part of your hypertrophy program. The more variety the better in my book! You should aim for approximately 75%-85% of your 1RM in each set. Exercises that build muscle the best are compound, multi-joint exercises, as they recruit more of the body to perform the exercise (Heyward, 2006). They have also been shown to recruit and activate more muscle fibres. Isolation work then would focus on smaller muscle groups like the biceps and triceps etc. The phase of the workout that people call the BURN, lifting lighter weights and breaking down the muscle fibres and entering the BURN phase/swole phase/looking in the mirror and flexing while posting on instagram phase. How much you get after isolation work will depend on your current program and your goals.
Here’s an example of a standard hypertrophy/bodybuilding type program
So what exactly happens to my body when I use weights to train, you ask…When weight training, tiny tears happen in your muscle fibres. The body responds to the damage by increasing the amount of protein going into the muscle. This healing progress continues for up to two days. Have you ever done a workout and the day after you fell sore, but even more sore the following day after that? This is your body repairing itself. Because of this; people create split programmes when doing hypertrophy training. One day they will train their upper body and another day they will train their legs. This would also be an important factor of the gym programming here at Ronin.
Benefits from hypertrophy training are massive;
Muscular strength & Improved balance and stability
Lower heart rate
Increased bone density
Stronger ligaments and tendons
Reduced risk/improvement in medical conditions. e.g diabetes and arthritis
Some last points. Both men and women will respond differently to a similar program. That said, muscle is needed to move weight and participate in CrossFit properly. As you can probably tell by looking around most CrossFit gyms our muscle gain is generally based more on performance and a lean frame over a powerlifting/strongman/bodybuilder frame.
Sometimes, one of the quickest ways to “gain muscle” is to drop a little bodayfat. Lean and well defined muscle can easily hide away and this is where simple tools like minimising sugar etc. come in.
Moral of the story guys… it’s never too late to start and it’s certainly never too late to get swole 🙂