What is muscle hypertrophy?
Muscle hypertrophy is the process of increasing the mass and volume of a certain group of skeletal muscles. The opposite process, atrophy, is associated with muscle contraction. In fact, hypertrophy of muscle fibers is the main goal in bodybuilding, since the goal is precisely the visual increase in muscle. The growth of strength indicators in this case represents only the secondary goal of the training.
Weight training is muscle hypertrophy training. A striking example of such training is the basic mass program , which implies the use of multi-joint basic exercises, work with high weights and in the lower boundary of repetitions (about 5-8). At the same time, training with light weight and a high number of repetitions are training for pumping.
Hypertrophy itself is divided into two types - myofibrillar and sarcoplasmic. The first is achieved by increasing the volume of muscle fiber cells (while the actual number of cells remains virtually unchanged), the second - by increasing the nutrient fluid surrounding this fiber. In simple words, the first affects the strength, the second - the volume of muscle fibers.
Types of muscle hypertrophy
Myofibrillar muscle hypertrophy is an increase in muscle fibers due to an increase in the volume and number of myofibrils. Sarcoplasmic hypertrophy is an increase in muscle fibers due to a predominant increase in sarcoplasm volume. Hypertrophy of this type occurs due to an increase in the content of mitochondria in muscle fibers, as well as creatine phosphate, glycogen , myoglobin and so on.
The muscles gained by an athlete as a result of various types of hypertrophy (and different types of training) are fundamentally different from each other. Myofibrillar hypertrophy is characterized by “dry” and tightened muscles, while sarcoplasmic hypertrophy is more voluminous and “inflated”. The processes of muscle growth in bodybuilding, primarily focused on the processes of sarcoplasmic hypertrophy.
The physical tension of the muscles during training and the creation of specific stress is the key point in triggering hypertrophy and muscle growth processes - this is why it is important to use heavy working weights in the exercise and to constantly increase the complexity of the training. Otherwise, the muscles will quickly adapt to the load and cease to undergo hypertrophy.
Note that white muscle fibers respond better to myofibrillar hypertrophy, while red ones respond to sarcoplasmic hypertrophy. In fact, strength training with extra weight develops fast muscle fibers, while the development of slow ones will require static exercises , stretching and yoga. In addition, slower, faster muscle fibers develop in long-distance runners.
Myofibrillar hypertrophy: muscle strength
Myofibrillar hypertrophy involves the growth of muscle fiber and an increase in muscle strength with a moderate increase in volume. The necessary training strategy is basic exercises with a serious working weight and a small number of repetitions (3-6) in each exercise.
The key point of myofibrillar hypertrophy is the use of maximum working weight in exercises (about 80% of the weight of one maximum repetition) and constant progress and increase in this working weight. Otherwise, the muscles adapt and stop growing².
Training for myofibrillar hypertrophy:
Sarcoplasmic hypertrophy: muscle volume
Sarcoplasmic hypertrophy implies an increase in muscle volume by increasing the capacities of muscle energy depots (sarcoplasm). The increase in muscle strength is not the main thing. The training strategy is a moderate load, a high number of reps (8-12) and sets.
Examples of sarcoplasmic hypertrophy are endurance training (marathon running, swimming) and pumping (performing weight training with an average weight and a high number of repetitions). Most often, pumping is used to increase muscle volume without increasing strength.
Training for sarcoplasmic hypertrophy:
- Medium and long distance running
Hypertrophy Training Rules
The total number of sets (approaches) per muscle group should be in the range from 10 to 15 - that is, it is enough to perform 3-4 exercises for 3-4 approaches. Providing sufficient muscle load in these sets, an increase in the number of sets (or an increase in the number of exercises) will not give an additional increase in the effectiveness of training for hypertrophy.
In addition, since during strength training, energy reserves in a working muscle are consumed in 10-12 seconds (which is why a low number of repetitions is recommended), the muscles need time to fully recover. Always make sure that rest pauses between sets of exercise are at least 45-60 seconds. Among other things, regularly use the active recovery technique.
Sports Supplements for Muscle Growth
Recall that the key fuel for muscle fibers are fast energy sources - primarily creatine phosphate, BCAA amino acids and glycogen³. That is why the additional intake of creatine , sports protein and maltodextrin before training, as well as BCAA amino acids during, helps muscles grow faster and makes hypertrophy training more effective.
The role is also played by the fact that muscle hypertrophy is physically impossible with a low calorie daily diet and without fail implies adherence to a hypercaloric diet for muscle growth . In other words, for weight gain, an athlete with a current weight of 80 kg needs to consume at least 2500-3000 calories daily, as well as about 1000 of these calories in the period 3-4 hours before and after training for hypertrophy.
Muscle hypertrophy refers to the growth processes of muscle fiber and the surrounding nutrient fluid (sarcoplasm). There are two different types of hypertrophy. During strength training, they act synergistically, but with a greater emphasis on myofibrillar hypertrophy of fast muscle fibers. Hypertrophy training strategy - basic exercises and large working weights.
- Hypertrophy and Muscle Growth, source
- Muscle Growth: Why, And How, Does A Muscle Grow And Get Stronger, Casey Butt, Ph.D., source