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What is Hypertrophy Training?

And why you should incorporate it into your fitness routine

Date March 30, 2021
Author Patrick Wong
Tags Fitness

You’ve probably seen it or heard it thrown around quite a bit: hypertrophy (pronounced hi-per-truh-fee in case you weren’t sure).

What exactly is hypertrophy and why should you care?

Hypertrophy Explained

Hypertrophy means muscle gain. If you want to increase your muscle mass, your goal is hypertrophy, plain and simple.

Exercises that trigger hypertrophy muscle gain will most typically be resistance and strength training ones that use body or external weight to put load and stress on your muscles.

When you put a weighted load on certain muscle groups, let’s say a bicep curl, every rep with that dumbbell is causing trauma to your muscle fibers. What are called satellite cells that reside outside the muscle fibers are woken up by this trauma and attempt to fix the damage done to your muscle fibers and by doing so, increase your muscle’s overall mass. You may not notice any extra mass right away, but with proper training, the cycle of damage and repair will result in some muscle mass gain and muscle tone.

“When you overload a muscle — that is, challenge it with a heavier weight, making you push hard for that last rep — the muscle cells are damaged. Now you have a bunch of damaged junk in the cell which needs to be cleared out and the cell needs to be made bigger and stronger to prevent future damage.” Dr. Joel French, Tempo’s Head of Exercise Science explained. “So the cell borrows the innards of nearby satellite cells (muscle stem cells) to repair and improve. Now your muscle cell is bigger and stronger.”

Why Hypertrophy Matters

Hypertrophy means muscle growth, and added muscle means...well, it means a lot. There’s loads of research that show that increased lean muscle mass translates to a host of health benefits, like improved athletic performance, higher resting state metabolism (research says you can burn at extra 15-30 calories per day per pound of added muscle, according to Dr. French!), and lower risk of disease. More muscle also has aesthetics pros, like changing your overall body composition.

Most of these benefits you won’t get through strict cardio training, and you most certainly won’t trigger any hypertrophy.

Hypertrophy training is crucial to becoming a well-rounded everyday athlete as well as simply for enjoying the everyday functional fitness benefits of being stronger and having more muscle on your frame. Hypertrophy training is inherently low-impact as well and does not typically require a lot of dynamic or joint intensive movements, so even if you have any pre-existing conditions or injuries, you can likely still train.

How to Incorporate Hypertrophy Training

Pick up some weights! While you can definitely achieve hypertrophy muscle gain through bodyweight training, free weights, like the ones that Tempo smart home gym includes, are versatile, adjustable, and are likely more efficient in placing the necessary load onto your muscles.

There are a couple ways to approach hypertrophy in your training and it will take some consideration of what your goals are.

Muscle size: Lift heavier weights for a small amount of reps. Think Tempo Build classes where you lift heavy for a handful of reps and have a substantial rest period in between sets.

Muscle tone and endurance training: Go for higher reps — aim for 15 — at a lower weight (that doesn’t mean lifting light, rather aim for 65-70% of the heaviest weight you could lift for one rep) .Tempo Shred and Sweat classes that focus on HIIT and endurance training will be your go-tos. Dr. French notes that even though you’re lifting lighter, you should still be challenged; lifting a weight that’s too light for an excessive amount of reps will only lead to overuse injuries like tendonitis.

If you’d like to increase your overall muscle mass, consider lifting heavier weights for a small amount of reps.

If you’re interested in achieving more muscle tone and muscular endurance, you may want to try lighter weights for a higher number of reps.

Pay attention to your pace

For either goal, you’ll want to pay attention to your form and your pace — two things Tempo will automatically track for you. Throwing up a ton of sloppy bicep curls where you’re leaning back and not engaging your biceps will do you no good (and may get you injured)

Pace is equally as important. Tempo coaches will typically prescribe a certain tempo to a lift. This tempo may mean slowly lowering a dumbbell in a bicep curl for two seconds before bringing it back up to start. Doing this means longer time under tension (or how long your muscle is contracted) ; it is during these moments your muscle fibers are damaged. Similarly, if you’re not paying attention to pace, and your reps are taking too long or going too fast, that tells you a lot about if the weight you’re using is correct as well.

Hypertrophy training is crucial to becoming a well-rounded everyday athlete as well as simply for enjoying the everyday functional fitness benefits of being stronger and having more muscle on your frame.

In either scenario, it is most effective to lift until you reach the point of failure, or when you can’t physically do another rep. This means that your muscles have reached a point where they can no longer contract and bear the weight that you’re using. To many that may seem a bit extreme, and the good news is that while maximal benefits are found in failure, you’ll still reap a lot of rewards from muscle fatigue, too. To know if you’re using a weight that is too light, Dr. French says that your weight should be heavy enough that you can’t easily throw it around. He also recommends Tempo athletes pay close attention to the Pace meter; if you’re moving the weight too fast or too slow, you’ll likely know if you need to up or lower your weight.

Of course, if you’re a beginner to strength training, it may be tough to know what is considered light and what is considered heavy for you. This may take some experimentation. A general rule of thumb is that if you feel like you can lift the weight you’re using for dozens of reps without getting tired, you’ll want to consider upping the weight. If you find yourself only able to complete one or two reps with your weight, try offloading some weight.

And we know that a common concern for women can be getting bulky through hypertrophy training, however, Dr. Joel says that shouldn’t be a concern.

“Women aren’t likely going to get bulky and heavier weights at lower reps will actually be less likely to result in “bulk” than lighter weights and reps in the 8-15 range.” Dr. French said.

For Tempo athletes, hypertrophy training is an easy-to-follow discipline with muscle-building and strength-training focused classes alongside AI that will continually learn and challenge you with different weight recommendations for different exercises.

Tempo coaches also encourage hypertrophy in their classes through practices like pace training and eccentric loading, which we’ll be covering in the future.

Author Patrick Wong
Tags Fitness

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