Resistance training manifests in two predominant styles hypertrophy training and strength training. Hypertrophy focuses on a training stimulus that enlarges muscle fibres, while strength training centres around a stimulus that enhances the force production capacity of muscle fibres. To simplify, hypertrophy leads to bigger muscles, while strength training leads to stronger muscles.
Let’s delve into the interplay between these two training styles and uncover essential considerations.
Primarily, they are not mutually exclusive. Although distinct in their goals, strength and hypertrophy are essentially interconnected. Pursuing muscle size increase inherently enhances strength, and vice versa.
Reasons for specializing in one area
Many individuals opt for hypertrophy training to sculpt muscles for aesthetic reasons, while others engage in strength training to excel in specific exercises, such as achieving a higher deadlift one-repetition maximum or sport specific like sprinting or football.
If you’re undecided about your preferred style, consider the expected outcomes for each:
- Improved body composition
- Increased work capacity
- Enhanced posture
- Muscular symmetry
- Improved metabolic health (e.g., insulin sensitivity)
- Enhanced sport performance
- Injury prevention
- Ligament and tendon integrity
- Movement proficiency
- Body-wide stabilization and control
Ultimately, the training adaptations depend on the variables encountered during resistance training.
Distinguishing hypertrophy and strength training involves examining the application of training variables. Hypertrophy training emphasizes maximizing volume (reps x sets x load) over time, while strength training prioritizes maximizing intensity (the load placed on the bar or machine). Hypertrophy training involves lifting light-moderate weights many times across various exercises, whereas strength training requires lifting heavy weights less frequently, focusing on proficiency in each movement.
For example, in an upper body session:
– Hypertrophy goal: 3 sets of 8-15 repetitions across multiple exercises
– Strength goal: 6 sets of 3 repetitions for a primary exercise, followed by assistance exercises
In essence, hypertrophy sessions spread high volume across multiple muscle groups, while strength sessions target specific, often multi-joint exercises, allowing exposure to heavier loads.
Considering hypertrophy as a starting point is advisable, especially for those new to the weight room. Putting on muscle not only enhances health markers, quality of life, and longevity but also establishes a solid foundation for all sports and exercise. Even if the goal is to transition into strength training, starting with hypertrophy improves later gains, familiarizes with resistance training at lighter-moderate loads, and emphasizes quality of movement over chasing heavy weights.
For advanced gym-goers experiencing a plateau in hypertrophy training, incorporating elements of strength training might prove beneficial. Teaching muscles to produce more force in strength training can lead to increased loads when returning to classic hypertrophy rep ranges, sparking new muscle gains.
In conclusion, hypertrophy and strength training share a close relationship, differentiated by specific training variables and resulting adaptations. Hypertrophy serves as a foundational starting point for most individuals entering weight training. While specializing in one style may be tempting, integrating aspects of both within a comprehensive training plan maximizes overall results.
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