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Hypertrophy Training 101

 

What is Hypertrophy?

Hypertrophy in the context of bodybuilding simply refers to a style of training focused on muscle growth. Training programs typically either target hypertrophy or strength gain, also referred to as powerlifting. Depending on what your specific goals are you can choose hypertrophy, powerlifting, or a combination of the two like most athletes do. 

Best Set and Rep Range for Hypertrophy

Beginner

When you are a beginner it is very easy to over-train and develop tendonitis, because of this, it is important to start slow and let your joints and tendons acclimate to the stress that weight lifting puts on your body.

• 5-10 sets per/muscle group
• 8-12 reps per set

Amateur

Once you have been lifting for awhile with lower volume you will likely hit a plateau, when this happens it’s a sign that you need to increase your volume (i.e. sets and reps).

• 10-15 sets per/muscle group
• 10-15 reps per set

Pro

At this point, you have been working out for at least a few years and your progress has slowed, but on the upside, your body can handle a lot more volume. Once you’re at an elite level it is critical to increase your volume to continue making progress.

• 12+ sets per/muscle group
• 10-20 reps per set

How Long Between Sets?

This is another point of distinction between hypertrophy training and powerlifting. In powerlifting, it’s normal to take 3-6min breaks between sets, but when your goal is purely to build muscle rest periods should not exceed 3.5mins and sometimes as little as 1min. The reason I give a range in time for rest intervals is because the larger the muscle the longer it will take to recover between sets. For example, 1min between sets on abs is adequate, but if you’re doing squats with any intensity you’re going to need at least 2mins between sets.