Understanding Hypertrophy

Andres Paniagua
3 min readMay 21, 2017
Understanding Hypertrophy

Do you want to win the Hyper-trophy? Well then keep reading and find out how.

Hypertrophy is defined as:

1 biology : excessive development of an organ or part; specifically : increase in bulk (as by thickening of muscle fibers) without multiplication of parts — cardiac hypertrophy

Who doesn’t want bigger muscles, right. But what the definition doesn’t tell you is how to do it. This article will summarize the information that i have collected to help you increase muscle size in the gym- muscular hypertrophy.

There are two types of muscular hypertrophy. The first (in no particular order) is sarcoplasmic hypertrophy and the second in myofibrillar hypertrophy. You can’t have one without the other but you can structure your training to focus on one or the other…or both I guess.

Sarcoplasmic hypertrophy is the increase in sarcoplasm in the muscle. This is the fluid that contains the nutrients and energy substrates needed to move your muscles and exert force. This fluid surrounds the myofibrils (muscle cells) and its increase in size comes from training like a bodybuilder. That is, multiple sets of 10–12 reps at 65%-75% of your 1RM.

Myofibrillar hypertrophy is the increase in cross sectional area of your myofibrils (muscle fibers). This is caused by causing microtrauma to the muscle fibers when the rub together. To focus on myofibrillar hypertrophy, train at 80%-90% of your 1RM with 2–6 rep sets.

What both types of hypertrophy have in common are:

They both respond to progressive overload. Your body needs a reason to grow. The ONLY reason your muscles grow (naturally) is to continually cause trauma to them.
You must be in a positive energy balance. You can’t repair damaged muscle or store more in your muscles (or muscular fluid) while on a diet. Muscle cells a are made of myosin and actin. Which in turn are made up of amino acids. Dietary protein in needed to supply the body with sufficient protein for muscle protein synthesis.

As I said in the beginning, you can’t train one type of hypertrophy without the other. But manipulating training variables (volume, intensity and frequency) can put emphasis on one or the other.

I hope this helped explain what happend to your muscles when you lift weights. This is a general overview of the preocess. An artcle(s) can be written on each part of the process. Let me know if you want more detail on any of the steps in the process.


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