Hypertrophy Training: A Beginner's Guide
There are more and more people who take time out of there days to get in the gym and break a sweat, run a trail, row a paddle board, or ride a bike. Those people are also spending time on Sundays prepping meals for the week, and counting their macros. We at Enzo are doing this ourselves. We want to be there for all of you who are getting started, at that intermediate stage, or those of you who have been engaging in these actives for several years now.
We want to make sure that you beginners don’t get fooled by the misconception that all one must do is go to the gym 2-3 times a week, have smaller dinners and they will get in better shape. Swapping out a pizza for salad, 15 minutes of cardio and 30 minutes of building vanity muscles, does not make for an impressive physique. First of all, if you drench the salad in dressing, it’s still not healthy. Yes, the cardio helps, but it will only do so much, and for those “bros” who skip compound movements, you’re going to hit plateaus.
This article is going to lay out the idea and practice of hypertrophy training. Hypertrophy training is a studied and proven system to build overall size and strength. If you are pumped about getting pumped, and your gym time is limited, you will benefit from reading this article. We will cover what hypertrophy is, why it is effective and a basic plan to implement hypertrophy.
What the Heck is Hypertrophy?
Starting at the basics Hypertrophy is the breaking or microtrauma of muscle fibers, these fibers then respond to that microtrauma by rebuilding and enlarging new muscle fibers. There are some people whose bodies are genetically better at these processes, but if you are looking to up your game this is the way to do it. Hypertrophy does not happen by just going to the gym and lifting. What happens when you go and exert yourself physically with resistance training, is that your body adapts to the process. Therefore your result comes to a screeching halt.
In order to keep seeing gains, one must progressively overload their system. We can focus on the 3 basic elements of progressive overload: Technique, Volume, and Frequency. In order for a one to benefit from a progressive overload regimen, one must eat a caloric surplus. Simply put, you need to eat more calories than you are burning throughout the day. This will fuel your body to keep moving, synthesize protein and grow. Hypertrophy training works because your body Is consistently breaking and rebuilding fibers at a rate of which is most effective for that person. Before I go any further, I want to mention that beginners should not shy away from these techniques.
Before you decide to give hypertrophy take a month and learn how to properly perform compound movement well. Your deadlift, squat, bench need to consistent and flawless. During that time you also need to find out where your weak points are so that you can spend time developing those groups. Once you are overloading the weight you form should always remain the same.
The word volume in the fitness world can mean a number of things, for example, the amount of work/ effort/ intensity a person exerts, the weight on a bar, the range of motion for a movement. Know that all of these metrics are only relative to you. Working out to achieve a hypertrophic effect does not mean running into the gym and throwing around as much weight as you can. Putting your body into a hypertrophic state mean going into the gym with set objectives and doing the best job possible to achieve those objectives. In order to change your body composition, which is an insanely complex system, one must have a game plan. So where you are in the gym you need to go at around 65-85%, unless you are in a deload week, where you can go 100%. I will discuss deload when I talk about time, because you will be spending more time in the gym, and if you go 100% you will tear your muscles off the bone. This means, do not take compound movements to failure. You should have 2-3 reps left in you.
Most importantly, in regards to volume, every week more weight needs to be added to the bar or machine for every movement. Even if it is just 2.5 pounds. We’ve all been there. Some of us are still there.
A regime like this is going to require time and dedication, so get a "notebook" and get ready to fill it up. A proper hypertrophic program on average will take around 16 weeks, start to finish. There are deload weeks that can be implemented periodically, to allow your body to recover. A person is going to need to be in the gym 5-6 times a week. Break these sessions up into push days, pull days, and legs. As I stated earlier, find a weak group of muscles and give them two days a week until they are performing at a point where you are happy, and then switch it up. By doing this you are keeping your body on its toes, and spreading the damage around.
Nutrition and sleep fall into this element because they don’t fit anywhere else and because that is incredibly important. In order for your body to maintain this type of performance, you have to be giving it proper nutrients. That means protein, fat, and carbs at a surplus.
So get to the gym, focus on your goals, and be a courteous gym member.