Basics of Strength Training pt 2: Hypertrophy

Different types of strength goals are going to require different types of training and a different implementation of repetitions and set schemes. Today we're going to talk about Hypertrophy.



Hypertrophy is a fancy way of saying building muscle. When you are new to training, no matter what kind of strength training program you start you will gain muscle. However, certain intensities and rep ranges will yield max muscle growth in the shortest amount of time.

INTENSITY: For maximum hypertrophy, generally an intensity of between 65-85% of your 1RM is preferred

REPETITIONS: repetitions is dependent on how experienced a lifter is with resistance training. For beginners, a repetition range of 8-12 is preferred, while more advanced lifters may choose to perform within a 6-12 repetition range.

SETS: like repetitions, set range will vary dependent on resistance training experience. A novice lifter will see muscle gains with only a single set of repetitions while a more experienced lifter will need to perform at least 3 sets to notice any significant differences.

FREQUENCY: A novice can perform hypertrophy training between 2-3x per week while an experienced lifter may perform hypertrophy training up to 6x per week. It is not uncommon for advanced lifters (such as bodybuilders or powerlifters to perform multiple sessions per day). The frequency of your training may also increase if you are performing a split routine (ex: Monday and Friday are upper bodies, Wednesday is lower body).

RECOVERY: hypertrophy training, more so than other forms of resistance training, causes a breakdown of muscle tissue. At first, this may seem counterproductive, however, it is this stimulus that tells the body that your current strength (i.e. muscle mass) isn't enough to meet demands, and builds more muscle to meet the demands.

The last aspect that is important to hypertrophy is your nutrition. Eating clean, and eating enough is important to putting on muscle mass, especially if you want to do so quickly. Make sure you are eating adequate protein (approximately 1-2g per kg of body weight, or 0.5-1g per lb of body weight). Try to spread your protein intake out throughout the day, over 3-5 intakes (including your protein shakes, breakfast, dinners, snacks, etc.), and make sure it comes from multiple sources.

Also, remember that strength training causes a breakdown of muscle tissue, but you shouldn't feel unable to do your workout the next day. After each workout you should feel like you have SOMETHING left in the tank. It if never worth compromising you next workout just to get an extra rep in during the current one (usually with terrible form).


If you missed Part 1, check it out for a great foundation on strength training. Part 3 is all about pure Strength, and how to develop raw strength.


B.Kin, Canadian Society of Exercise Physiology CPT

Author: Mark Murdoch, Kinesiologist, Chiropractic Student. Have questions? Email me. I want to help!