The Goal for January 2018 is Hypertrophy
The last quarter of 2017 at POW! Gym Chicago focused on building strength. Many people have enjoyed the challenge of improving their bench, deadlift and squat. Although this is not the only training goal we have had – it has been amazing watching the numbers on our white board increase.
West Loop Gym Offers Monthly Goals
It is not uncommon to hear the weight lifting community disagree on the best programming for increasing size verse strength. I believe increasing your weight over a 3-5 week period with fewer reps is going to ultimately going to make you stronger. You will see your numbers go up if you lift will good form, while properly prepping and resting your body.
Workouts that help to promote hypertrophy, which is a fancy word for muscle growth, feel and look very different than those that focus on building absolute strength. To launch 2018, POW! Gym Chicago traditionally focuses on hypertrophy in January. This is a very rewarding training goal. It keeps the heart rate up and poses an awesome challenge for those taking our adult strength and conditioning classes. Our programming will be lifting weights between 60-80% of an individuals max at higher reps. Sometimes our brackets will be sets of 8-15 reps and others will be exercises that are done for an interval of time. The goal is to reach fatigue during each exercise. Another element of increasing size and definition of the muscles will be super-setting movements and achieving a total body workout.
A Closer Look at Hypertrophy
There is an interesting relationship between increasing the size of the muscle and the strength of the muscle. As there are different methods to increasing the strength of the muscle; there are different ways to increase the size of the muscle. Muscles do not count reps, but they respond to the amount of tension they manage over time. There are two types of hypertrophy experienced by the muscle.
Hypertrophy is basically when a muscle or organ increases in size. When we succeed in increasing the size of the muscle, it experiences myofibrillar and sarcoplasmic hypertrophy. Myofibrillar hypertrophy refers to the muscle’s cellular structure experiencing growth. The myofibrils are made up of protein and they contract. So when your training program instigates hypertrophy is it essentially helping to increase the size and number of the myofibrils inside the muscle. Sarcoplasmic hypertrophy refers to the plasmic characteristics of the muscle cells, like protein and collagen, increasing their volume. These plasmic elements are the non-contractile parts of the muscle.
It is unclear whether myofibrillar and sarcoplasmic hypertrophy can occur independent from one another. It is more widely believed that they can not. In other words, when you succeed in increasing the size of the muscle you have increased the size and volume of both muscle cells and plasmic elements. The body building community supports several theories on selective hypertrophy and how training variables could isolate more type of growth over the other. If you have an interested in this it is worth researching further. However, there are some basics for designing a program that is focused on increasing the size and definition of the muscle.
8 Tips for designing a workout program focused on hypertrophy.
1. The intensity of each set is medium to high. Create the right metabolic stress so you are pushing the muscle fibers to their reasonable limits. This is generally accomplished by repetition that takes a muscle to fatigue. New exercisers should not begin with this as a goal.
2. Increase the tension or stress placed on the muscle. So training brackets (i.e. reps and sets) should have more reps and sets. This increase in workload will only be successful if your form and technique does not falter with the increase in intensity. Technique and ownership over skill is the most important!
3. Once the muscle is pushed to the limit – it will experience the “micro-tears” needed for repair. On a basic level, the cycle of muscle growth is a by-product of the muscle fibers being stressed and requiring repair. This repair happens with the proper nutrition and rest. Without this the muscle tissue does not repair itself.
4. Build and include weaker and smaller muscles in your programming at the same reps and sets.
5. The hypertrophy phase should not last longer than 4-8 weeks.
6. The order of the exercises should change even if you choose not to change the exercises.
7. The amount of weight should still increase once you are hitting the higher rep sets. For example, if 15 reps or 60 seconds is the goal of an exercise, increase the weight you are lifting, not the reps or time. There is such a thing as too many reps. If you are doing 3-4 sets – your total volume would be 60 reps. This is a ton!! Be smart.
8. The rest period in-between the exercises are shorter (30-60 sec). This is another variable you can manipulate. You can begin this phase with longer rests between rounds, while still trying to increase your load, before increase reps.