When people long for bigger muscles, what they are really trying to achieve is hypertrophy. What is hypertrophy? Knowing the answer to this question is important if you are to reach your bodybuilding goals.
Muscular Hypertrophy Explained
Scientifically speaking, hypertrophy occurs whenever an organ or tissue grows due to an increase in the size of its cells. Muscle hypertrophy happens because the muscles are used in such a way that they are forced to adapt and change. An example is when performing weightlifting, which causes micro-trauma to the muscles. This in turn signals the body to repair itself. Each time repairs are made, muscle cells will increase slightly in size, and this is what is responsible for bigger muscles.
Types of Hypertrophy
Muscular hypertrophy is separated into two basic types. The first is myofibrillar hypertrophy, which involves an increase in the size of muscle fibers. This is the type of hypertrophy athletes are normally most interested in achieving. The second form is sarcoplasmic hypertrophy, which has to do with the volume of fluid inside your muscle. Sarcoplasmic hypertrophy is most often associated with “the pump” than it is with bigger muscles. According to researcher Stuart Philips, PhD, you do not need to be concerned about differentiating between the two, because they are actually intertwined.
Factors that Affect Hypertrophy
No two people will achieve the same results from a workout, which is why your own muscle hypertrophy may vary based upon:
- Whether you are fast-twitch or slow-twitch dominant
- Body type
- Diet and nutrition
- Amount of weight you lift
The way you perform an exercise can affect muscular hypertrophy as well. Rather than simply performing reps, concentrate on completing a wide range of motion, while at the same time keeping constant tension on the working muscle. Stop your lift just short of locking out on the concentric or squeezing part of your exercise. Stop short again at the bottom of your eccentric or stretching part of the exercise. This should amount to about a 90 percent range of motion on both ends.
Continuing to Notice Hypertrophy
After lifting weights for some time, you will need to find new ways to challenge your muscles; otherwise, hypertrophy will not continue. You may do this by lifting heavier weights, or by focusing more on the eccentric portion of your lift. Some athletes find that training the muscles from a different angle works, while others add in new exercises or change how fast they lift. Alternate between low weight/high reps and heavy weight/low reps from time to time and you are more likely to keep noticing results as well.
Muscular hypertrophy is something that every bodybuilder desires, even though some people long for bigger muscles than others. Understanding hypertrophy and the factors that influence it is one of the best ways to meet your bodybuilding goals.