Maximising muscle gains: Hypertrophy Science

by | Feb 15, 2023 | Public Access | 0 comments

Maximizing muscle hypertrophy is a primary goal for individuals engaged in resistance training. With the plethora of training techniques and methods available, it can be challenging to determine the optimal approach to achieve the desired outcome. This blog post summarizes several systematic reviews and meta-analyses that offer valuable insights into the most effective methods and applications of hypertrophy.

Mechanical tension

The article by Krzysztofik et al. emphasizes the importance of mechanical tension and metabolic stress in hypertrophy-oriented training. The study suggests that multiple sets of 6-12 repetitions with short rest intervals and moderate intensity of effort can form a foundation for effective hypertrophy training. Additionally, advanced resistance training techniques can be integrated to break through plateaus and prevent monotony, and these techniques can offer beneficial effects for training volume, time-efficiency, and intensity of effort.

Training Frequency

Schoenfeld et al. conducted a systematic review and meta-analysis to determine the effects of resistance training frequency on hypertrophic outcomes. The results indicate that higher training frequency is associated with a greater effect size on hypertrophy than lower frequency. The authors suggest that training major muscle groups at least twice a week can promote superior hypertrophic outcomes compared to training them once a week.

Tempo

Another study by Schoenfeld et al. investigates the impact of repetition duration on the hypertrophic response to resistance training. The study suggests that hypertrophic outcomes are similar when training with repetition durations ranging from 0.5 to 8 seconds. From a practical standpoint, a wide range of repetition durations can be employed to maximize muscle growth.

Volume

Baz-Valle et al. conducted a systematic review to investigate the use of the total number of sets as a method to quantify training volume for muscle hypertrophy. The study suggests that counting the total number of sets to or near failure per muscle group can be an optimal strategy to quantify training volume, specifically when the repetition range lies between 6 and 20+.

Load

Lopez et al. investigated the effects of resistance training with different loads on muscle hypertrophy and strength gain in healthy adults. The study found that high-load Resistance Training was superior to low-load Resistance Training in terms of muscle strength improvement, while there were no significant differences in muscle hypertrophy between low-, moderate-, and high-load Resistance Training.

Hormones

Fink et al. discuss the role of hormones in muscle hypertrophy and note that while resistance training can increase endogenous hormonal levels, acute Resistance Training induced hormonal elevations are not directly correlated with muscle growth. The authors suggest that Resistance Training protocols designed to elevate hormonal levels may not be the best approach to maximize anabolic responses.

Rest Intervals

Finally, Grgic et al. review the effects of short versus long inter-set rest intervals in resistance training on measures of muscle hypertrophy. The results suggest that both short and long inter-set rest intervals may be useful in achieving gains in muscle hypertrophy, although longer rest intervals may be advantageous for trained individuals using measures sensitive to detect changes in muscle hypertrophy.

Summary

In conclusion, the findings of these systematic reviews and meta-analyses suggest that hypertrophy-oriented training should focus on mechanical tension and metabolic stress, with advanced resistance training techniques being integrated to prevent monotony and break through plateaus. Training major muscle groups at least twice a week and counting the total number of sets to or near failure per muscle group can also promote superior hypertrophic outcomes. Additionally, high-load Resistance Training may be superior for muscle strength improvement, while both short and long inter-set rest intervals may be useful in achieving gains in muscle hypertrophy.

Sources

  • Krzysztofik, M., Wilk, M., Wojdała, G., & Gołaś, A. (2019). Maximizing Muscle Hypertrophy: A Systematic Review of Advanced Resistance Training Techniques and Methods. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, 16(24), 4897. doi:10.3390/ijerph16244897
  • Schoenfeld, B. J., Ogborn, D., & Krieger, J. W. (2016). Effects of Resistance Training Frequency on Measures of Muscle Hypertrophy: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis. Sports Medicine, 46(11), 1689-1697. doi:10.1007/s40279-016-0543-8
  • Schoenfeld, B. J., Grgic, J., & Krieger, J. (2019). How many times per week should a muscle be trained to maximize muscle hypertrophy? A systematic review and meta-analysis of studies examining the effects of resistance training frequency. Journal of Sports Sciences, 37(11), 1286-1295. doi:10.1080/02640414.2018.1555906
  • Schoenfeld, B. J. (2010). The Mechanisms of Muscle Hypertrophy and Their Application to Resistance Training. Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research, 24(10), 2857-2872. doi:10.1519/JSC.0b013e3181e840f3
  • Schoenfeld, B. J., Ogborn, D. I., & Krieger, J. W. (2015). Effect of Repetition Duration During Resistance Training on Muscle Hypertrophy: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis. Sports Medicine, 45(4), 577-585. doi:10.1007/s40279-015-0304-0
  • Baz-Valle, E., Fontes-Villalba, M., & Santos-Concejero, J. (2021). Total Number of Sets as a Training Volume Quantification Method for Muscle Hypertrophy: A Systematic Review. Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research, 35(3), 870-878. doi:10.1519/JSC.0000000000002776
  • Schoenfeld, B. J., Grgic, J., Ogborn, D., & Krieger, J. W. (2017). Strength and hypertrophy adaptations between low- vs. high-load resistance training: A systematic review and meta-analysis. Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research, 31(12), 3508-3523. doi:10.1519/JSC.0000000000002200
  • Lopez, P., Radaelli, R., Taaffe, D. R., Newton, R. U., Galvão, D. A., Trajano, G. S., Teodoro, J. L., Kraemer, W. J., Häkkinen, K., & Pinto, R. S. (2021). Resistance Training Load Effects on Muscle Hypertrophy and Strength Gain: Systematic Review and Network Meta-analysis. Medicine and science in sports and exercise, 53(6), 1206-1216. https://doi.org/10.1249/MSS.0000000000002585
  • Fink, J., Schoenfeld, B. J., & Nakazato, K. (2018). The role of hormones in muscle hypertrophy. The Physician and Sportsmedicine, 46(1), 110-117. doi: 10.1080/00913847.2018.1406778
  • Glass, D. J. (2003). Signalling pathways that mediate skeletal muscle hypertrophy and atrophy. Nature Cell Biology, 5, 87-90. doi: 10.1038/ncb0203-87.
  • Grgic, J., Lazinica, B., Mikulic, P., Krieger, J. W., & Schoenfeld, B. J. (2017). The effects of short versus long inter-set rest intervals in resistance training on measures of muscle hypertrophy: A systematic review. European Journal of Sport Science, 17(8), 983-993. https://doi.org/10.1080/17461391.2017.1340524

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