Wednesday, 9 April 2008

Muscle Hypertrophy

Those new to the weight lifting or bodybuilding world will at some point here the words muscle hypertrophy mentioned and wonder what hypertrophy actually is. Hypertrophy is a name given to the process of muscles gaining in size and strength.

What may surprise some people is the fact that muscle hypertrophy is actually a scientific term used by those weight lfiters and body builders.

How does muscle hypertrophy work?

Heres the biological reasons behind muscle hypertrophy. In the structure of muscle fibres there are many protein elements, the main ones of these are myosin and actin fillaments. Together myosin and actin create many cross bridges within the muscle fibers that create force. There are many thousands of these cross bridges within the muscle as they are extremely small, the more cross bridges a muscle has, the more powerful it can become.

Through specific training the myosin and actin fillaments increase in number and to a certain extent in size giving added strength and power to the muscle groups worked.

How do I get muscle hypertrophy?

This all depends on what you are training to achieve, to complicate things further there is actually two forms of muscle hypertrophy...

Myofibrillated hypertrophy - This type of hypertrophy is used by powerlifters, weight lifters and strength athletes. To gain this form of hypertrophy you will train your muscles at around eighty to ninety percent of your one rep max for between two and eight reps per set. An example of this is that I train two sets of eight reps and my last set on a heavier weight for three to five reps.

Sarcoplasmic hypertrophy - This type of hypertrophy is found in the bodybuilding world and is found in lifting weights that are not so close to the one rep max so the lifter can carry out between eight to twelve reps per set.


When carry out training in these manners people can usually see an improvement in lifting weight very quickly but may not see a large increase in muscle mass for up to two months. It is also important to note that hypertrophy through strength training is not something that everyone can gain, also nutrition and age play a big factor.