What is Hypertrophy Training & Why Should You Do It?
My PWR program is based on the style of training I do each week to increase muscle strength, endurance and definition. I don't really enjoy working out on a treadmill (although I do love to exercise outdoors!), so when I discovered hypertrophy training, I knew I had to create PWR so I could share it with women and help them feel confident with this training style.
Hypertrophy training has so many benefits for your health — mentally, emotionally and physically! It’s not a quick fix or something you’ll only do for a few months — it is a sustainable form of exercise you can include in your life for the long term.
What is a hypertrophy workout?
A hypertrophy workout is designed to increase the size and strength of your muscles through exercise. This usually means lifting weights to improve muscle strength and definition.
During a hypertrophy workout, you will focus on “time under tension” — completing exercises that are challenging, while using correct form for every repetition.
Workouts are usually split to target specific areas of the body, and a hypertrophy program will generally contain 2-5 workouts each week.
If you aren’t sure where to start, my PWR program can give you all the guidance you need!
How many reps do you do for hypertrophy training?
Hypertrophy workouts can follow several different structures, with between 8-15 reps for each exercise.
Some of the different workout structures you will see in PWR include:
- Supersets: where you alternate between two different exercises that target opposing muscle groups
- Tri-sets: like a superset, but with three exercises
- Pyramid sets: This is where you increase the weight and decrease the number of reps in each set for an exercise, with a rest between each set
- Circuits: PWR at Home and PWR Zero Equipment utilize circuits instead of pyramid sets, as you may not have a large range of weights for training at home
- Burnouts: An exercise done at the end of your workout to exhaust the muscle and challenge your strength for one final push (this should leave you feeling powerful!)
What is the difference between strength training and hypertrophy training?
The primary goal of strength training is to increase the total power or force that muscles can exert, so you can safely lift heavier objects. Strength training generally means using low repetitions and heavier weights.
Hypertrophy training focuses on the goal of increasing muscle size. This means using higher repetitions to stimulate an increase in muscle endurance and volume.
Hypertrophy and strength training are complementary — combining both can help to accelerate gains in both muscle size and strength.
What triggers hypertrophy?
Muscle growth, or hypertrophy, occurs when the muscles are pushed to their limits. That’s why many of my PWR workouts include a burnout that encourages you to push yourself right through to the end of the workout!
You may feel sore after a hypertrophy workout. It is so important that you allow adequate time for recovery between workouts before your next session. The body part splits found in my PWR programs ensure that while one part of your body rests, you can train a different area of the body. This training program maximizes your time in the gym to ensure that you get the best results for the effort you put in.
When will you see results from hypertrophy training?
Hypertrophy results vary depending on a wide number of factors, including your training experience, the foods you eat, your genetics and how consistently you follow the program.
However, you should start to feel the results of your training within around four weeks. When I first began to exercise, I felt the benefits of working out long before I saw any physical changes.
Do you need to lift heavy for hypertrophy?
While hypertrophy training should definitely challenge you, the goal of hypertrophy workouts is to increase time under tension — the time that your muscles are working against resistance.
This means doing more reps at a lighter weight, and relying on your strength and endurance, rather than momentum, to complete each exercise.
Always focus on lifting weights using correct form. Fitness is not a number, so do not compare the weights you are lifting to the weights someone else might be lifting.
What constitutes a “heavy” weight for you will depend on how much weight training you have done in the past, and how consistently you’ve been training in recent weeks. It’s always going to be relative to where you are right now!
It’s important to choose the right weights for your workout on the day — this may not be the same weight you lifted in your last workout. Always listen to your body and how you feel, and adjust your workouts so you can always maximize the benefits of your training.
Benefits of hypertrophy training
There are so many benefits to this style of weight training. Here are just few of the reasons why I enjoy it:
It helps to build muscle
Hypertrophy training can help to increase muscle size and strength, resulting in a higher proportion of lean muscle relative to other body tissues.
It feels great
Strength training releases endorphins, which can help improve your mood. As you strengthen your body, you’ll notice you feel better in general. Gaining physical strength in a systematic and progressive way can improve your confidence, which may flow over into other areas of your life.
You can get physically stronger and more powerful
Resistance training increases your strength. This can help to reduce your risk of injury, and counter the effects of working in a sedentary job. It can also make your daily tasks, like lifting or carrying, easier.
It can help to maintain bone density
According to the Mayo Clinic, weight training helps to maintain bone density, which is particularly important for women as they get older.
It can be low impact
Strength training is generally low impact. This means it protects your joints, making it an effective way to exercise while managing the stress placed on your body.
Plus, if you are doing your PWR workouts at home, there’s the added benefit of it being a quiet workout that won’t disturb your neighbors if you live in an apartment — just remember your headphones before you hit play on your workout playlist!
It is sustainable
When you start exercising regularly, you want to be able to maintain your consistency for years to come. That’s why choosing a sustainable training style is so important. You’ll stay motivated, avoid injury or burnout, and keep your body healthy so you always feel your best.
Consistent training will get you results — but it takes time
My PWR programs focus on helping you to build lean muscle, strength and endurance using the techniques of hypertrophy training. I truly believe this style of training is something you can include in your life and keep doing for years.
It’s not a quick fix, and you won’t see results overnight. It takes discipline, consistency and a commitment to yourself — but remember you are worth it, so why not start today?
* Disclaimer: This blog post is not intended to replace the advice of a medical professional. The above information should not be used to diagnose, treat, or prevent any disease or medical condition. Please consult your doctor before making any changes to your diet, sleep methods, daily activity, or fitness routine. Sweat assumes no responsibility for any personal injury or damage sustained by any recommendations, opinions, or advice given in this article.