What is Hypertrophy Training?

Gym-goers, athletes, and anyone interested in strength training often find themselves hearing the term “hypertrophy” bandied about. But what does it mean? How does it differ from standard strength training? Is it necessary? And if so, how should one approach it? This article will provide a comprehensive insight into hypertrophy training, giving you the tools to integrate it into your workouts to build stronger, bigger muscles.

What is Hypertrophy Training?

Hypertrophy training refers to a style of resistance training designed primarily to induce muscle growth, or ‘muscle hypertrophy.’ This approach focuses on maximizing the size of muscle cells through a variety of specific training methodologies, such as manipulating the volume of sets, reps, and the weight lifted.

It’s important to understand that there are two types of muscle hypertrophy:

  • Myofibrillar Hypertrophy – This type focuses on increasing the size of the muscle fibers responsible for force production. This leads to a boost in muscle strength.
  • Sarcoplasmic Hypertrophy – This involves an increase in the volume of the non-contractile muscle cell fluid, sarcoplasm. This type of hypertrophy does not directly increase muscle strength but instead focuses on the size of the muscles.

Hypertrophy Leg Training

Hypertrophy leg training is an excellent way to build muscle mass and strength in your lower body. The principles remain the same as with other hypertrophy training, focusing on volume, intensity, and progression. Here’s a simplified routine for hypertrophy leg training:

  • Squats (4 sets of 8-12 reps)
  • Lunges (4 sets of 8-12 reps)
  • Leg press (3 sets of 10-15 reps)
  • Leg Curls (3 sets of 10-15 reps)
  • Calf Raises (4 sets of 15-20 reps)

Remember, the key to hypertrophy is not just performing the exercises but stressing the muscle by reaching fatigue within the rep range and allowing adequate recovery between workouts.

What’s the relationship between Hypertrophy and Strength Training?

Understanding the relationship between hypertrophy and strength training can be a bit complex. Strength training typically involves lifting heavy weights for lower repetitions, leading to an increase in myofibrillar hypertrophy and, consequently, strength. On the other hand, hypertrophy training tends to involve lighter weights lifted for higher repetitions, promoting sarcoplasmic hypertrophy and enhancing muscle size.

Despite these differences, there is a significant overlap between the two, and it’s not a simple black-and-white dichotomy. Training for hypertrophy will often lead to strength gains, and vice versa. This overlap is due to the fact that both forms of training involve progressive overload and result in some degree of muscle damage and repair.

Functional Hypertrophy Training

Functional hypertrophy training is a training method that aims to increase the size of the muscle while also improving its function. It’s a blend of strength and hypertrophy training, aiming to achieve not just muscle growth but also performance enhancement.

The key to functional hypertrophy training is focusing on compound movements that work multiple muscles at once and mirror natural movements. Examples might include squats, deadlifts, pull-ups, and bench presses. Functional hypertrophy training often incorporates a moderate to high volume of work (sets and reps) combined with moderate to heavy weights.

What is the Goal of a Hypertrophy Muscle Program?

The Goal of a Training Program for Muscle Hypertrophy Should Be To: Designing an effective hypertrophy training program requires setting appropriate goals. A good hypertrophy training program should aim to:

  • Increase Muscle Size: The primary goal of hypertrophy training is to maximize muscle growth.
  • Improve Muscular Endurance: Because hypertrophy training often involves higher rep ranges, it can lead to improvements in muscular endurance.
  • Enhance Muscle Definition: As muscle size increases, with appropriate nutrition, muscle definition will also improve.
  • Improve Body Composition: An increase in muscle mass can lead to a decrease in body fat percentage, leading to improved body composition.
  • Boost Strength: Although not the primary focus of hypertrophy training, one can expect some strength gains.

Hypertrophy Strength and Power Training

Hypertrophy, strength, and power training can all be incorporated into a single training program. Such a program is often periodized, meaning it’s structured into distinct phases each focusing on a different goal. Here’s a simplified example of how such a program might look:

  • Hypertrophy Phase (4-8 weeks): Focuses on muscle growth, using higher rep ranges (8-12) and moderate weight.
  • Strength Phase (4-8 weeks): The focus shifts to strength, using lower rep ranges (1-6) and heavier weights.
  • Power Phase (2-4 weeks): Emphasizes power, using moderate to high weight with high speed and low reps (2-5).

It’s crucial to note that transitions between phases should be gradual to avoid injury and ensure the body has time to adapt.

Hypertrophy Weight Training

Hypertrophy weight training refers to using weights as a means to achieve muscle hypertrophy. The key principles of hypertrophy weight training are:

  • Intensity: The weight used should be challenging enough to cause fatigue within the targeted rep range.
  • Volume: Generally, a higher total volume (sets x reps x weight) is recommended for hypertrophy.
  • Frequency: Each muscle group should be trained at least twice per week for optimal results.

Hypertrophy Training Workout Routine

Here’s a simple three-day split hypertrophy training workout routine. This routine emphasizes volume and intensity, key components of hypertrophy training.

  • Day 1 – Chest and Triceps
    • Bench Press: 4 sets of 8-12 reps
    • Incline Dumbbell Press: 4 sets of 8-12 reps
    • Triceps Dips: 3 sets of 10-15 reps
    • Triceps Pushdown: 3 sets of 10-15 reps
  • Day 2 – Legs and Abs
    • Squats: 4 sets of 8-12 reps
    • Leg Press: 4 sets of 10-15 reps
    • Seated Calf Raises: 4 sets of 15-20 reps
    • Crunches: 3 sets of 15-20 reps
  • Day 3 – Back and Biceps
    • Deadlift: 4 sets of 8-12 reps
    • Lat Pulldown: 4 sets of 8-12 reps
    • Barbell Curls: 3 sets of 10-15 reps
    • Hammer Curls: 3 sets of 10-15 reps

What is the Volume to Train for Hypertrophy?

Training volume is a crucial factor in hypertrophy. Volume typically refers to the total number of sets and reps for a specific muscle group. For hypertrophy, research suggests that performing 10-20 sets per muscle group per week can stimulate muscle growth effectively. However, it’s vital to start at the lower end of the spectrum and gradually increase the volume over time to avoid overtraining.

How Much Difference Does Training for Hypertrophy Vs Strength Make?

The difference between hypertrophy and strength training primarily lies in the size and strength outcomes. While both training methods will lead to muscle growth and strength gains, the emphasis varies.

  • Hypertrophy Training: Focuses on maximizing muscle size. While strength gains will occur, they are not the primary goal. Training typically involves moderate to high reps (8-15) with moderate weight.
  • Strength Training: The primary goal is to increase muscle strength. Although some increase in size will happen, it’s not the main focus. Training typically involves low to moderate reps (1-6) with high weight.

In terms of training structure, hypertrophy training generally involves more total sets and reps (higher volume) than strength training. Also, hypertrophy workouts often include a mix of compound and isolation exercises, while strength training usually focuses more on compound movements.


Hypertrophy training, with its emphasis on muscle size and aesthetics, can be a vital part of your fitness journey. While it shares common grounds with strength and power training, its methodologies and outcomes are unique. Understanding these principles will enable you to tailor your workouts towards your personal fitness goals, whether they involve packing on size, increasing strength, or a bit of both. Happy lifting!