What Is Hypertrophy Training & Why Should I Do It?
My PWR program is based on the style of training that I do each week to increase muscle strength, endurance and definition. I don't really enjoy cardio on a treadmill (although I do love to exercise outdoors!), so when I found this training style, I knew I had to create PWR so I could share it with women and help them to be confident about using it.
The first thing you need to know about this style of training is that it has so many benefits for your health — mentally, emotionally and physically! It’s also not a quick fix or something you’ll just do for a few months — it’s a sustainable form of exercise that you can include in your life in the long term.
What is a hypertrophy workout?
A hypertrophy workout is designed to increase the size and strength of your muscles, through exercise. This usually means lifting weights to improve muscle strength and definition.
During a hypertrophy workout, you will focus on “time under tension” — completing exercises that are challenging, while using correct form for every repetition.
Workouts are usually split to target specific areas of the body, and a hypertrophy program will usually contain 2-5 workouts each week.
A PWR workout is a hypertrophy workout — so if you aren’t sure where to start, following my program can give you all the guidance you need!
Benefits of hypertrophy training
There are so many benefits to this style of weight training. Here a just few of the reasons why I enjoy it:
It can change your body composition
Hypertrophy training can help to increase lean muscle size and strength, resulting in a higher proportion of lean muscle relative to other body tissues.
It feels great
Strength training releases endorphins, which can help to improve your mood. As you strengthen your body, you’ll notice that you feel better in general. Gaining physical strength in a systematic and progressive way can improve your confidence, which may flow over into other areas of your life.
You can get physically stronger and more powerful
Resistance training increases your strength. This can help to reduce risk of injury, and counter the effects of working in a sedentary job. It can also make your daily tasks easier, such as whenever you are lifting or carrying.
It can help to maintain bone density
Weight training helps to maintain bone density, something that is particularly important for women as they get older.
It can help with insulin resistance
There is increasing evidence that strength or hypertrophy training can help to manage and improve the balance of the hormones that influence eating behaviour, and energy storage in the body.
As muscle tissue grows and strengthens, it releases hormones and helps to metabolize energy more efficiently. This change in metabolism can help to improve risk factors for chronic conditions such as cardiovascular disease and type 2 diabetes.
It can be low impact
Strength training is generally low impact. This means that it protects your joints, making it an effective way to exercise while managing the stress placed on your body.
Plus, if you are doing your PWR workouts at home, there’s the added benefit of it being a quiet workout that won’t disturb the neighbors if you live in an apartment — just remember you might need headphones for your workout playlist!
You’ll burn more energy
Muscle tissue is more metabolically active (burns more energy) than other types of tissues. This means that as you get stronger and change your body composition through hypertrophy training, you’ll burn more energy even at rest.
It is sustainable
When you start a habit of exercising regularly, you want to be able to keep doing it for many years to come. That’s why choosing a sustainable training style is important. You’ll stay motivated, avoid injury or burnout, and keep your body healthy so that you always feel your best.
How many reps do you do for hypertrophy?
Hypertrophy workouts can follow several different workout structures, with between 8-15 reps for each exercise.
Some different workout structures that you will see in PWR include:
- Supersets: where you complete two exercises that target opposing muscle groups, alternately.
- Tri-sets: like a superset, but with three exercises
- Pyramid sets: This is where you increase the weight and decrease the number of reps in each set, for one exercise, with a rest between each set.
- Circuits: PWR at Home and PWR Zero Equipment utilise circuits instead of pyramid sets, as you may not have a large range of weights for training at home
Burnouts: An exercise done at the end of a workout, to exhaust the muscle and challenge your strength for one final push (this should leave you feeling powerful!)
What is the difference between strength and hypertrophy training?
The primary goal of strength training is to increase the total power or force that muscles can exert, so that you can lift heavier objects safely. Strength training generally means using low repetitions and heavier weights.
Hypertrophy training focuses on the goal of increasing muscle size. This means using higher repetitions to stimulate an increase in muscle endurance and muscle volume.
Hypertrophy and strength training are complementary — combining both can help to accelerate gains in both muscle size and strength.
What triggers hypertrophy?
Muscle growth, or hypertrophy, occurs when the muscles are pushed to their limits. That’s why many of my PWR workouts include a burnout that encourages you to push yourself right through to the end of the workout!
You may feel sore after a hypertrophy workout. It is so important that you allow adequate time for recovery between workouts before training again. The body part splits found in my PWR programs ensure that while one part of your body rests, you can train a different area of the body. This training program maximizes your time in the gym to ensure that you get the best results for the effort you put into your training.
When will I see results from hypertrophy training?
Hypertrophy results will vary depending on a wide number of factors, including your training experience, the foods you eat, your genetics and how consistently you follow the training program.
However, you should start to feel the results of your training within around four weeks of starting. When I first began to exercise, I felt the benefits of working out long before I saw any physical changes.
Do I need to lift heavy for hypertrophy?
While hypertrophy training should definitely challenge you, the goal of hypertrophy workouts is to increase time under tension — the time that your muscles are working against resistance.
This means doing more reps at a lighter weight, and relying on your strength and endurance, rather than momentum, to complete each exercise.
Always focus on lifting weights with correct form. Fitness is not a number, so do not compare the weights you are lifting to the weights that anyone else might be lifting.
What constitutes a “heavy” weight for you will depend on how much weight training history you have, and how consistently you’ve been training in the recent weeks. It’s always going to be relative to where you are at right now!
It’s important to choose the right weights for your workout on the day — this may not be the same weight you lifted in the last workout you did. Always listen to your body and how you feel, and adjust your workouts so that you can always maximize the benefits of your training.
Consistent training will get you results — but it takes time.
My PWR programs focus on helping you to build lean muscle, strength and endurance using the techniques of hypertrophy training. I truly believe that this style of training is something that you can include in your life and keep doing for years.
It’s not a quick fix, and you won’t see results overnight. It takes discipline, consistency and a commitment to yourself — but you are worth it, so why not start today?
* Disclaimer: This blog post is not intended to replace the advice of a medical professional. The above information should not be used to diagnose, treat, or prevent any disease or medical condition. Please consult your doctor before making any changes to your diet, sleep methods, daily activity, or fitness routine. Sweat assumes no responsibility for any personal injury or damage sustained by any recommendations, opinions, or advice given in this article.