What is hypertrophy?

Hypertrophy is the increase in size of an organ or tissue as a result of the growth of its cells. It’s a popular topic in the world of fitness, and the idea of building bigger muscles is the driving force behind many people’s gym routines. But what exactly is hypertrophy, and how can we achieve it? Let’s find out.

Two types of hypertrophy

First of all, it’s important to understand that there are two types: sarcoplasmic hypertrophy and myofibrillar hypertrophy. Sarcoplasmic hypertrophy is an increase in the volume of sarcoplasmic fluid in a muscle cell, which results in a larger muscle size but not necessarily a greater strength. On the other hand, myofibrillar hypertrophy is an increase in the size and number of contractile proteins within a muscle cell, leading to a greater strength but not necessarily a larger muscle size (Schoenfeld, 2013).

Lift weights and eat protein

So, how do we achieve hypertrophy? The most important factor is progressive resistance training, which means gradually increasing the weight you lift over time (Schoenfeld, 2010). Research has shown that lifting weights in the 6-12 rep range with short rest periods is an effective way to induce muscle growth (Schoenfeld, 2010). Additionally, it’s important to have adequate protein intake, as the building blocks for muscle growth come from the protein you consume (Campbell et al., 2007).

Is cardio bad?

Now, some people may argue that cardio can hinder hypertrophy. While it’s true that long-duration, low-intensity cardio can increase muscle endurance and delay fatigue, it doesn’t promote the kind of muscle growth we’re after (Schoenfeld, 2013). High-intensity interval training, on the other hand, has been shown to enhance hypertrophy when combined with resistance training (Ratamess et al., 2009).

What about genetics?

It’s also worth mentioning that genetics play a role in how easily you can build muscle. Some people are naturally more predisposed to muscle growth due to factors such as muscle fiber type, muscle insertion points, and hormone levels (Schoenfeld, 2013). However, that doesn’t mean you can’t make progress. With consistent, progressive resistance training and adequate protein intake, anyone can improve their muscle size and strength.

In conclusion, hypertrophy is the increase in size of a tissue or organ as a result of cell growth. To achieve hypertrophy, it’s important to engage in progressive resistance training in the 6-12 rep range with short rest periods and consume adequate protein. High-intensity interval training can also enhance hypertrophy when combined with resistance training, and genetics do play a role but with consistent effort, anyone can improve their muscle size and strength.

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Campbell, B., Kreider, R. B., Ziegenfuss, T., La Bounty, P., Roberts, M., Burke, D., … & Antonio, J. (2007). International Society of Sports Nutrition position stand: protein and exercise. Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition, 4(1), 8.

Ratamess, N. A., Alvar, B. A., Evetoch, T. K., Housh, T. J., Kibler, W. B., Kraemer, W. J., … & Tran, T. T. (2009). Progression models in resistance training for healthy adults. Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise, 41(3), 687-708.

Schoenfeld, B. J. (2010). The mechanisms of muscle hypertrophy and their application to

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