Understanding Hypertrophy Training

When it comes to targeting your muscles while weight training there are two main types: strength training and hypertrophy training.

And while there are benefits to both, the goals of each method are different.

Strength training has the main intent of improving strength and the goal is simple — to efficiently move more weight. The objective is more focused on improving movement patterns under tension rather than the growth of a particular muscle or muscle group.

For instance if you’re working to lift a heavier bench press or deadlift, your goal is to lift more weight, not to necessarily see maximum muscle growth.

Hypertrophy training is training done with the intent to increase muscle size or muscle mass. Simply put, hypertrophy is muscle growth prompted by muscles overcoming external force (usually weights).

This means whether you’re using dumbbells, medicine balls or machines you are exercising a muscle under tension and that brings on growth.

As a beginner, you will gain muscle with a strength program, even with bodyweight exercises. This is because your body is adapting to working under tension with resistance training.

But as you become more advanced, your gains will require hypertrophy training.

If we look at it the other way, while you may see increased strength while lifting weights, the end result isn’t strength. Think of bodybuilders — they train for the aesthetic purposes, not heavier reps.

And although these types of training may look alike in the gym, volume is what separates them ultimately.

In strength training, you’ll do fewer reps and sets per week but with a heavier load. For example, you may do two to six sets of six reps or fewer.

On the other hand, while training for size you may do more reps and sets in the program. The more reps and sets you to do, the more you switch from training for pure strength to muscular gains.

So while you are planning your training program, it’s important to know just what your end goal is and whether strength or hypertrophy training is best for you.