What Is Hypertrophy And Why It’s Important For You To Know?

What Is Hypertrophy?

Train for Hypertrophy if you want optimal muscle growth and strength gains!

Ever wondered about the scientific name for muscle growth? You probably guessed it by now but yes… it’s called “hypertrophy”.

There are potentially two types of hypertrophy (Muscle tissue development) that you should be aware of. These are sarcoplasmic and myofibrillar hypertrophy. Since the goal of athletes and regular fitness fanatics is increasing hypertrophy and strength, it’s helpful to know about how the process works.

Although the exact science of muscle growth has still not yet been concluded, we know what it takes to achieve hypertrophy through training, nutrition, and other muscle promoting factors.

Evidence has shown that different rep ranges can determine the type of hypertrophy you’ll experience, whether it’s more for muscle growth or strength output.

Strength athletes should train in a different manner than someone looking for more pure size gains.

You may need to experiment to see whether you experience two different types of hypertrophy based on your method of training…

So What Exactly Is Hypertrophy?

Well… we already know it’s an increase in muscle volume and mass.

But… to dig deeper.

Sarcoplasmic Hypertrophy

Sarcoplasmic hypertrophy is explained as the sarcoplasm increasing in size within a cell to create more space between muscle fiber. This form of hypertrophy supports overall visual muscle size. This theory of muscle growth is not a sure science.

Myofibrillar Hypertrophy

myofibrillar hypertrophy occurs from myofibrils splitting off and forming more contractile units with a muscle fiber. This type of hypertrophy is supposedly better for strength athletes as it is conducive to more strength output (Contractile units).

How does hypertrophy work?

When you weight train, you basically tear down your muscle fibers and hypertrophy occurs as a result of different factors like your anabolic levels, nutrition, and optimum recovery and nuclei.

Science has shown that the muscle fibers increase in volume as a result of myonuclei (Control centers of muscle fibers) multiplication within muscle fibers.

How much muscle you can grow depends on your myonuclei count. Myonuclei are formed from satellite cells that provide nuclei to the muscle for repair after a tough training session.

How do you increase myonuclei? With progressively more damage to the muscles.

Who Can Benefit from Hypertrophy?

The short answer is… Everyone can!

Who doesn’t want increased strength and muscle growth? The people that enjoy being small… and there’s nothing wrong with that!

Strength athletes – Training style is important for a strength athlete (In the case that science is correct about the theory of myofibril hypertrophy). That is why strength and power athletes can (Potentially) benefit more from myofibrillar hypertrophy training (reps of 3-6).

A strength athlete relies on muscle density and contractile units used to recruit more muscle fibers.

Bodybuilders – Muscle size is the goal of the bodybuilder. Although they can greatly benefit from myofibrillar hypertrophy, the scientific reasoning behind sarcoplasmic hypertrophy is more conducive to overall visible muscle mass.

Once again, sarcoplasmic hypertrophy has not been proven as an exact science. However, someone seeking size gains would benefit from a similar (Or exact) scientific theory of training in such a manner.

What Are The Benefits of Hypertrophy?

There are so many benefits to hypertrophy that we can name the most important few… So we’ll do just that if you were wondering what you can expect from a hypertrophy training program…

  • Increased muscular development
  • Decreased chances of injury
  • Increased strength and power

Muscle growth is an obvious benefit of hypertrophy as the physical aspect of it is highly sought for many gym goers and athletes alike.

Hypertrophy prevents injuries as motor learning and aerobic/anaerobic are improved which promotes better muscular functioning.

For power athletes, hypertrophy is extremely beneficial to performing at a high level as a result of better power output. These same athletes can benefit greatly from adopting some sarcoplasmic training as well.

Moderate reps and resistance can increase muscle size, strength and prepare an athlete for advanced training. Additional, higher reps can allow for better nutrient transfer to muscle cells, injury prevention, and improved functional muscle tissue capacity.

These benefits have long been discussed and believed to be why bodybuilders (Or anyone training for mass) experience the number of size gains that they do.

The “pump” may not allow for hypertrophy to occur on its own but the shuttling of nutrients from increased blood flow is acknowledged as a large contributor to muscle growth.

Are There Negatives to Hypertrophy Training?

There are negatives to everything and hypertrophy is no different (Although the positives outweigh the negatives tenfold) as hypertrophy is such a great gift to mankind!

However, a strength athlete’s maximal power output can significantly decrease when using higher reps and little rest in between sets (The reason why low reps are best for maximum strength).

Maximum energy resources must be reserved for short and heavy bursts of power, so this makes complete sense for a powerlifter.

Besides the few negatives, there’s no reason to be concerned otherwise when understanding the amazing benefits to hypertrophy training.

Hypertrophy is the Answer to Strength and Muscle Growth!

You now understand what hypertrophy is and the process of how it occurs. When we workout, we are encouraging hypertrophy whether it be in the form of sarcoplasmic or myofibrillar.

It’s a complex process but at the same time, we have come a long way in how we understand the concept of muscular growth and strength.

Regardless of your training preferences, we all strive for our own ideal of physical capability.

These two types of hypertrophy (Sarcoplasmic and Myofibrillar) have to be tested and researched more to get an exact idea of their legitimacy. Until then, we can conclude that a similar process potentially occurs based on scientific evidence.

Hypertrophy is real and you have to come up with your own hypothesis on how it works best for you because we all respond differently.

So whether you’re a strength athlete or more concerned about size and muscle volume, know that hypertrophy is important for whatever your goals may be!

References

  1. What Is Hypertrophy? – Definition, Causes, Symptoms & Treatment https://study.com/academy/lesson/what-is-hypertrophy-definition-causes-symptoms-treatment.html
  2. Nosaka K, Newton M. Repeated Eccentric Exercise Bouts Do Not Exacerbate Muscle Damage and Repair. J Strength Cond Res. 2002 Feb;16(1):117-122.
  3. Nosaka K, Newton M. Concentric or eccentric training effect on eccentric exercise-induced muscle damage. Med Sci Sports Exerc. 2002 Jan;34(1):63-9.
  4. “Hypertrophy.” Strength & Conditioning Research, 30 Sept. 2018, www.strengthandconditioningresearch.com/hypertrophy/
  5. Proske U, Morgan DL. Muscle damage from eccentric exercise: mechanism, mechanical signs, adaptation and clinical applications. J Physiol. 2001 Dec 1;537(Pt 2):333-45.
  6. Nosaka K, Newton M, Sacco P. Responses of human elbow flexor muscles to electrically stimulated forced lengthening exercise. Acta Physiol Scand. 2002 Feb;174(2):137-45.
  7. Nosaka K, Sakamoto K, Newton M, Sacco P. How long does the protective effect on eccentric exercise-induced muscle damage last? Med Sci Sports Exerc. 2001 Sep;33(9):1490-5.
  8. McHugh MP, Connolly DA, Eston RG, Gleim GW. Exercise-induced muscle damage and potential mechanisms for the repeated bout effect. Sports Med. 1999 Mar;27(3):157-70.
  9. Allen DG. Eccentric muscle damage: mechanisms of early reduction of force. Acta Physiol Scand. 2001 Mar;171(3):311-9.
  10. Clarkson PM. Eccentric exercise and muscle damage. Int J Sports Med. 1997 Oct;18 Suppl 4:S314-7.
  11. Paddon-Jones D, Abernethy PJ. Acute adaptation to low volume eccentric exercise. Med Sci Sports Exerc. 2001 Jul;33(7):1213-9.
  12. Nosaka K, Clarkson PM. Influence of previous concentric exercise on eccentric exercise-induced muscledamage. J Sports Sci. 1997 Oct;15(5):477-83.
  13. Carson JA. The regulation of gene expression in hypertrophying skeletal muscle. Exerc Sport Sci Rev. 1997;25:301-20.
  14. Lieber RL, Friden J. Mechanisms of muscle injury after eccentric contraction. J Sci Med Sport. 1999 Oct;2(3):253-65.
  15. Nosaka K, Clarkson PM. Muscle damage following repeated bouts of high force eccentric exercise. Med Sci Sports Exerc. 1995 Sep;27(9):1263-9.
  16. Nosaka K, Sakamoto K, Newton M, Sacco P. The repeated bout effect of reduced-load eccentric exercise on elbow flexor muscle damage. Eur J Appl Physiol. 2001 Jul;85(1-2):34-40.
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