Hypertrophy is the increase in muscle size. It is the growth of muscle mass…. the Popeye effect. One of the components of a strength training program is the aftermath, the recovery, which involves hypertrophy.
When we exercise, we are actually adding stress to our bodies sand tearing apart muscle fibers. The post-workout period is when these fibers build and repair themselves, which ultimately leads to muscle growth.
Our bodies are composed of two types of muscle fibers. The first are called Type I or slow-twitch. They do not fatigue easily and do not have much growth potential. They’re built to endure. Type II are fast twitch and they do in fact grow faster and contract faster. However, they fatigue faster. Sprinters have well developed Type II fibers.
When it comes to lifting weights, different training modalities are more suitable if muscle gain is the ultimate goal. Type I fibers achieve better results from less weight and higher repetitions. Type II prefer more weight and less repetitions. Because Type II are more suitable for muscle growth, this explains why using heavier weights is more effective for achieving muscle gain.
Let’s not forget good old genetics too. Some of us are designed to build mass while others have to work much harder for it. That is why results from the very same workout can be different for two people.
Muscle shape is determined by muscle tendons and typically people with shorter tendons have more visible growth to the eye compared to someone with longer, more stretched out tendons.
Lifting weights involves the contraction of muscles which actually causes damage to the fibers. After the workout, when muscles are at rest, through protein synthesis and repair, more fibers are produced to replace the damages ones. This is when wonderful muscle growth takes place.
There is a critical sixty- minute window post workout in which those fibers are very vulnerable after being stressed. This is when that protein intake (shake, egg, lean meat) can assist with repair and synthesis.
For myself, a shake work best because liquid is absorbed faster and can be guzzled down as you walk out the gym doors. Once again nutrition is a critical component of results.
Hypertrophy also emphasizes the importance of recovery and the common idea of training different body parts on different days in order to experience hypertrophy in the designated areas.
Stereotypes would say that men embrace the gain while women fear the bulk. The truth is that the benefits of strength training for both genders are vital to our neuromuscular, cardiovascular, and skeletal systems.
Whether or not hypertrophy is the goal, lifting weights is a highly recommended component of an exercise program.
The Lifestyle of the FIT and Healthy includes strength training and in turn when we LIFT ourselves up through better health, we influence the lives of others to do the same.
Megan Johnson McCullough is an NASM Master Trainer and Instructor who owns a fitness studio in Oceanside CA called Every BODY’s Fit. She holds an M.A. in Physical Education & Health Science and is currently in a program to receive her Doctorate in Health & Human Performance. She’s a professional natural bodybuilder, AFAA Group Exercise Instructor, Senior Fitness Specialist, Fitness Nutrition Specialist and Wellness Coach. Her goal is to help every BODY become the best version of themselves.