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Training for Hypertrophy (increased size and muscle growth)

Training for increased size or ‘bulking’ is a common goal among most men; a few things to consider when training for hypertrophy are;

What is hypertrophy?

Hypertrophy is essentially the breaking down and tearing of muscle fibers. This stress caused by lifting weights prompts the muscles to repair themselves (with the help of quality nutrition) and increase in size in order to cope with the increased external loads of weight lifting.

Time Under tension.

If the aim of training for increased size is to tear muscle fibers then the longer time spent completing a lift, the more stress the muscle is under and the more it will tear. If a bicep curl is completed in 5 seconds total compared to 2, then the effects of hypertrophy are going to be much greater resulting in bigger growth!

Eccentric Reps.

Also known as negatives, this is the action of elongating the muscle and taking the muscle away from contraction. The muscle stretches during this phase and is where most of the damage associated with hypertrophy happens, the longer the eccentric contraction (or ‘stretch’) the more stress is put on the muscle.

Free weights vs. machines.

Should you train with free weights for hypertrophy or should you incorporate machines?

When using free weights your body is forced to stabilize the weights as well as move them (e.g. your shoulders and back help stabilize the bar on a bench press) where as a chest press machine is in a fixed movement and isolates the pectoral muscles. For maximal hypertrophy results it is best to use free weights for the majority of any workout and use machines for isolation work e.g. fly machine if shoulders fatigue while training the chest.

Nutrition and hypertrophy.

With an increased demand for recovery, extra nutrients are required by the body to aid recovery. Whey protein shakes after a workout to help muscle growth and recovery are an ideal supplement along with creatine to help strength development and mineral based supplements such as ZMA to help increase sleep and recovery.

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Written by:

Chris Blythe (TeamPPS)

BSc(hons) sport science
REPS level 3 qualified personal trainer



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