What is hypertrophy, and how do you do it?
What: it’s the term for muscle growth.
How: overload your muscles by resistance training.
Here are the simple details on it:
Muscle is made up of fibres that make up muscle tissue. There are 2 types of fibres and your muscle size depends on the size of these fibres:
1. Slow twitch: for longer durations and endurance
2. Fast twitch: the short and powerful ones (powerlifters, what’s up!)
When we do the fit-things, we cause stress on these fibres, forcing them to change. We stress them by quite literally damaging and fatiguing the fibres.
We commonly see claims that certain rep ranges are best for hypertrophy, but a lot of this depends on the individuals’ abilities and their intensity in their training sessions. We can stress the fibres when we do 5 reps or when we do 15 reps; what’s different is the type of fibres that get stressed more.
- Higher rep ranges will stress the slow-twitch fibres and cause fatigue. This is commonly seen with the “pump.”
- Lower rep ranges will stress the fast-twitch fibres and cause damage. This is commonly seen with powerlifters (of course I’m using that as an example, cause it’s me.)
Muscle growth responds to consistent overload. This can include increasing weight, increasing reps or sets, changing time under tension or ‘tempo’ of the reps, decreasing rest time or moving the weight load more efficiently. A well-rounded training structure that incorporates phases of both higher reps (lighter weights) and lower reps (heavier weights) will result in a very healthy and well-rounded body.
Look at me for example, I’m tiny but I’m strong. I use a lot more fast-twitch fibres but my muscles are more dense. I’m not saying I’m the perfect specimen for slow-twitch fibres and heavier training, but trying to help you understand better.
Spoiler: there’s no quick-fix to growing muscle. Even if you want to ‘enhance’ yourself, you still need to put in the hard work.
Want to learn more? Check out these 2 blog posts: