Hypertrophy occurs whenever an organ or tissue increases in size due to a growth in its component cells. Muscle hypertrophy is therefore important for those who wish to increase muscle mass.
What is Hypertrophy?
Muscle hypertrophy involves developing larger skeletal muscles by increasing the size of their component cells. Hypertrophy differs from hyperplasia, a condition in which cells increase in number but remain about the size as usual. It is a direct result of resistance or strength training that stimulates muscle fibers and encourages them to grow. As such, hypertrophy of the muscles is not something that can be achieved through cardiovascular exercise or a reduction in fat.
Factors that Influence Hypertrophy
Not everyone will experience muscle hypertrophy in the same way, since there are a number of factors that influence this. Genetics plays a huge role, as some people naturally have a more muscular build and respond better to bodybuilding exercise. Males will also experience greater hypertrophy than females will, due to larger amounts of testosterone in their bodies. Diet, age, and health will all play a role in how the muscles develop as well.
Maximizing Muscle Hypertrophy
It’s true that based upon the above factors, no two people will achieve the same results from a workout. However, you can maximize the amount of muscle hypertrophy you experience by incorporating these three primary factors into your workout:
- Muscle tension, which involves using constant tension on the working muscle when performing reps. This essentially prevents muscles from taking a break, and instead causes them to focus on stretching (eccentric) and squeezing (concentric).
- Metabolic stress, which involves the feeling you get when your muscles have become completely exhausted. Sometimes thought of as a “burn”, it stimulates a process that encourages muscle development.
- Muscular damage, a process that happens whenever you lift weights. Muscular damage stimulates the muscle to repair itself, after which time it will grow back bigger than before. As you become stronger, you will need to lift heavier weights or otherwise vary your routine to ensure that healthy muscle damage takes place.
The Effects of Steroids
Those who achieve less-than-desirable results from their workout routine may want to consider anabolic steroids, all of which contain a form of the male hormone testosterone. Anabolic steroids stimulate protein synthesis in order to spur muscle growth, and can provide some amazing results when taken correctly. In a study published by the New England Journal of Medicine, men who followed a strict exercise regimen and also received weekly testosterone injections had a 38 percent increase in muscle strength over a 10-week period, as compared to 21 percent for those who merely worked out.
If your goal is to bulk up or massively increase your strength, it is not enough to ask “What is hypertrophy?” You must also understand the various factors that come into play, in addition to being committed to a rigorous diet and exercise program if you are to achieve the best results possible.