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January 2019

2018 tips on great abs 2018 tips on great abs

The Goal for January is Hypertrophy

West Loop Gym Offers Monthly Goals

It is not uncommon to hear the weightlifting 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 make you stronger. However, it is important to change your training modalities as well as brackets throughout the course of the year.  Absolute strength essentially sits in a bubble until you apply aspects of strength to movement, sports and speed.  One of the greatest benefits of POW! integrating with the Parisi Speed School, is the integration of training applications in the adult program.  POW! opened as the most dynamic adult training program in Chicago in 2001.  Today, POW! Gym in the West Loop is one of the most progressive and relevant training programs in Chicago.   This accomplishment in part stems from the Parisi youth program running parallel to the adult combat sports, fitness, sports performance program that offers 45 classes a week for adults.

This month most of the workouts promote hypertrophy, which is a fancy word for muscle growth.  These training sessions feel and look very different than those that focus on building absolute strength. This particular goal is traditionally offered 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 70-85% of an individuals max at higher reps. Sometimes our brackets will be sets of 8-15 reps and others 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 increase 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 independently 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 bodybuilding community supports several theories on selective hypertrophy and how training variables could isolate more type of growth over the other. If you have an interest 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. Essentially adjusting the weight, load or stress is the best way to remain safe

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!  Remember POW! has always placed skill, form & technique as the first priority.


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 proper nutrition and rest. Without this the muscle tissue does not repair itself.  Ask the POW! Gym staff for help if you are looking to improve your nutrition with Isagenix shakes or even by adding My Mighty Meals to your week.


4. Build and include weaker and smaller muscles in your programming at the same reps and sets.  You will often hear the staff refers to an auxiliary or supportive set of muscles.  The combination of working both large and small muscles groups improves the integrity of the connective tissue and integration of functional strength.

5. The hypertrophy phase should not last longer than 4-8 weeks.  This works perfectly for the month of January.  This program will overlap into February when building our cardiovascular capacity becomes our goal.

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.