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Thread: My understanding of hypertrophy training

  1. #1
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    My understanding of hypertrophy training

    Hey guys,


    I was thinking the other day and came up with a few ideas about hypertrophy training. Basically I think I found a way to express it in just one short sentence: hypertrophy training is the middle ground training. At one end of the spectrum, you have extreme strength training: very few reps, lots of rest between sets, very heavy weights. You're training your CNS. At the other end, metabolic conditioning: lots of reps, little rest between sets, low weights. You fatigue your muscles to the extreme. Neither of those ends is good for significant muscle hypertrophy.

    From all the articles I've read, all the books, all the internet forums, etc it appears to me that hypertrophy training falls right in between the two ends of the spectrum: you use medium reps, medium rest, medium weights. You're not training exclusively for strength, but you're not really training for endurance either. Or better yet, you train both. You cannot sacrifice one too much for the other.

    If you use too few reps you won't be fatiguing the muscles enough, not breaking down enough muscle fibers. On the other hand, too many reps and the resistance is not strong enough: there will be no stimulus for growth.

    Too much rest? Not optimal for growth hormone release. Too little? the weights will have to go down and the resistance won't be strong enough.

    So all of the time, you have to strike a balance. Not too much rest between sets, like a powerlifter, and not too little (like someone training for endurance). Not too many reps, not too few...

    The rest is just fine tuning and varies from individual to individual. Basically you just have to shoot for the middle ground.

    Am I way off or is there some truth to this? I wanted to share it with you guys because it almost feels too simple to be true. Of course I assume everything else is equal (right exercise selection, good nutrition and rest, etc).

  2. #2
    Wrecker of Homes d'Anconia's Avatar
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    Can someone verify the too much rest = not optimal for growth hormone release idea? And does growth hormone only deal with bones or with muscles also (sorry but I'm not positive).

    I suppose you could use terms such as "medium" and "middle" to refer to hypertrophy training but I think my ideal amount of reps is probably 8 for hypertrophy. That's closer to strength training than it is to endurance training in my opinion. Also if you do strength training you will gain size whereas that's not so certain with endurance training.

    In general though it seems like you got it down.
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  3. #3
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    Indeed the growth hormone release question is an issue that I know can cause quite a stir on these forums: some believe that limitation of rest during the workout doesn't change anything, others like me believe it's beneficial for building muscle.

    Regarding your other points: I guess it all depends on how we define "endurance training". I'll admit it's quite a blurry area, with IMO rep ranges ranging from 15 to more than 100... You might just grow with 15-20 reps (it depends on the individual too), just like you might just grow with sets of 4-6. However once you go beyond, growth is much more limited, although you may be right that someone only doing singles with very heavy weights might end up gaining a little more than someone doing sets of, say, 100 airsquats... I'm not sure. Either way it's far from optimal for hypertrophy.
    Last edited by Mikael; 08-14-2005 at 06:28 PM.

  4. #4
    Wrecker of Homes d'Anconia's Avatar
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    Mikael it seems like you know your stuff well enough. Your understanding seems pretty much right on.
    ...........||High School||.....||July '05||.......||January '09||
    Bench.........225x1...............275x1.................?
    Squat...........?.......................?....................365x5
    Deadlift........?.....................315x5...............435x5
    Weight........180...................192...................185
    BF%.............?......................12.....................12
    Time to Get Ripped
    Pictures of Me

  5. #5
    Senior Member RussianRocket's Avatar
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    if you just target 8 reps per set that might not be optimal for growth in a long run, you really need to cover all the basis, low and high reps.
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