Muscle Hypertrophy Training

Muscle hypertrophy (muscle cell enlargement) is an area of great debate in the fitness industry. Everyone has their opinion on how to overload the muscular system to produce growth and there are new studies coming out every week proving one method is better then another. But how do you resistance train if your goal is to get stronger and leaner while avoiding that overly developed bodybuilding look? Most of my personal training clients want more of that ripped athletic look but also want to be as strong as possible.

There are two basic ways a muscle cell gets bigger. One is called sarcoplasmic hypertrophy and the other is called myofibrillar hypertrophy. Sarcoplasmic hypertrophy is when there is an increase of fluid and noncontractile connective tissue within the muscle while myofibrillar hypertrophy is an increase in the size of the contractile muscle fiber (actine and myosin).

Traditional body builders do higher volume resistance training while lifting moderately heavy weights for 10 to 12 reps. It is not uncommon for a body builder to spend 30 to 40 minutes just training their chest while a power lifter will lift very heavy weights for only 1,2 or 3 reps.

A typical body builder is more muscular then a power lifter but not as strong; therefore, the higher rep and higher volume of training will contribute more to sarcoplasmic hypertrophy. Now keep in mind that there is always some carry over. Whenever you resistance train you will get both sarcoplasmic hypertrophy and myofibrillar hypertrophy.

The secret to getting strong and lean is using the right combination of sarcoplasmic hypertrophy and myofibrillar hypertrophy.



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Best – Mike Cola

Fitness Blog

About Mike Cola

Mike Cola has well over 50,000 hours of hands-on personal training experience. He started his own personal training studio in1989, Mike Cola Fitness, which is located in New York.Connect with Mike @ Google+

9 Responses to “Muscle Hypertrophy Training”

  1. I use Rusty Moore’s program and it works wonders for me!! I have also worked out with a personal trainer for over a year and he too had to admit that it’s a great approach. So, I think anyone who’s not into real bodybuilding should give it a try.

  2. Good article. You definitely don’t need to continually increase muscle mass to get stronger. Just look at some of the powerlifters that have to maintain their weight class. Training for strength and training for hypertrophy really are two totally separate entities.

  3. Mike,

    I never knew about the concept of muscle density training until I read VI, so in the past, I was always training in the 8-10 rep range but focusing in on lower volume really does make a difference.


  4. Seems like you know what you are talking about. It helps when there is some science to back up why I’m getting bigger but don’t feel like i am getting stronger. This is interesting. I’m happy to read about other peoples success. Look forward to reading more.

  5. I think muscle hypertrophy training is a great to introduce into any fitness program. I think there are a lot individuals out there that have never heard of the Overload Principle and how beneficial it can be to implement, especially if your are doing a periodization program. Thanks for the article, excellent read.
    Kisar S. Dhillon

  6. you walkMike Cola January 2, 2012 at 2:14 pm

    @ calves exercise,

    Yes I really like Rusty Moore’s program. He shows you how to put on lean muscle fast.

    @ Coach Calorie,

    Yes coach I agree, you don’t have to keep getting bigger to get stronger. Training for strength is different than training for size.

    @ Alykhan,

    Visual Impact open my eyes to a lot of different training protocols. We all can learn a lot from VI.

    @ Tim,

    Thanks for leaving a comment. I hope that VI can help you too.

    @ Kisar,

    Yes, understanding the overload principle is basic but very important. We all want to overload are muscular system in just the right amount to produce the results were looking for.

    Best – Mike

  7. I bought Rusty Moore’s book and it has some great information. Thanks for the tip!

  8. Good to know, my goal is primarely strength, since I train for armwrestling, so your advice is more then welcome.

  9. Who really wants to build crazy amounts of visible muscle without much strength? Personally, both are of importance to me, as I’d feel like a phony if I had biceps the size of mountains but lost an arm wrestle.

    Great post explaining everything!