Do you only have to do hypertrophy training to build a good looking physique or can you only train for strength to build a well developed physique?
This is a question I get asked a lot and today I want to cover what actually happens within your body if you train for strength/hypertrophy and what my personal recommendations are.
So lets talk about strength adaptations. Strength gains derive heavily trough the creation of additional contractile protein actin and myosin. Which increases total contraction, you can achieve this by a crazy training stimulus, like lifting weights, high intensity training and enough nutrients like protein for recovery. With beginners strength can increase really fast, just by practicing the movement you want to get stronger at. At the beginning it is always the hardest because you are just starting out. When you learn the form of the squat for example you are able to put more weight eventually on the bar. There are also neuro muscular strength adaptations like increasing motor unit recruitment and rate coding. Simply explanation is the ability and rate in which your nervous system signals your muscles to contract by them selves. This is how you get stronger.
Hypertrophy similar to strength gains, you are increasing contractile protein and that will also increase your muscle size. This is known as myofibrillar hypertrophy, myofibrils are the actual motors of the muscle fiber, made up of contractile proteins that make the muscle fibers contract. There is also something called sarcoplasmic hypertrophy, this is muscle growth as well, but very different Sarcoplasm is the water and energy surrounding the myofibrillar in your muscles. It contains ATP, glycogen, creatine phosphate and water.
Sarcoplasmic hypertrophy occurs when the amount of water in your muscle cells increase. This can make you heavier and make it look that you have really big muscles. If your muscle tank is empty with ATP, glycogen, creatine phosphate and water, gives the illusion of looking flat. That is where the term flat comes from. Expert greg nuckols believes that an increase in sarcoplasmic hypertrophy can have a notable affect on overall muscle growth. But we need more single fiber studies to know for sure.
So the big question is what training method is better hypertrophy or strength?
The most important thing for muscle growth is just total work volume. Meaning how much work you are doing in a given training like the amount of sets/reps/intensity or the weight you lift. With muscle growth it is the goal to eventually add more sets/reps/intensity or the amount of weight you lift. This is also called progressive overload AKA getting stronger. Body builders mostly train in the 8-12 rep zone because you are adding volume in a shorter time period. However a study showed that you can do as many as 100 reps per set or even just 2-5 reps per set, you can indeed then achieve similar muscle gains as long as the total volume is the same.
Strength relies less on volume and more on intensity. The same study also found that the group that was doing 2-5 reps increased their strength gains much more compared to the lower rep group. So to conclude if you really want to get strong, you need to lift heavy!
If you want to train for strength you should train with 85% of your 1 rep max.
Building muscle and getting stronger in weight is definitely possible. You can balance out your workout program with hypertrophy days where you train between 8-12 reps and strength days where you train between 3-5 reps each set and keep the volume a little lower. What I like to do is implement reverse pyramid training meaning I start with my heaviest set first and reduce the weight every set and perform some more reps, Than i have a good combination of strength and hypertrophy.
They both go hand in hand, if you get stronger your muscles are able to handle more volume eventually and if you are progressing with weight on the bar that means your muscles are adapting to the stimulus and that means more hypertrophy gains. So at the end of the day it is up to you how you want to divide your workout program. Training for strength and hypertrophy definitely helps with adding more muscle because they go hand in hand Please like the video and leave a comment.
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