Muscle hypertrophy

Muscle hypertrophy – What is it and how is it achieved?

Muscle hypertrophy is defined as an increase in the size of muscle fibers. And it is hypertrophy, the result that most bodybuilders and fitness professionals aspire to.

Muscle hypertrophy is achieved when several factors are present. Achieving muscle hypertrophy is practically impossible without specific and progressive training of the muscles. However, to hypertrophy supplement with a good diet, respecting rest times, and sleeping well is perhaps just as important.

This article defines the concept of muscle hypertrophy, describes what types there are, and proposes a method to make muscles increase in size.

RELATED: Muscle Hypertrophy Routine at Home.

Muscle hypertrophy: What is it?

By definition, muscle hypertrophy is the growth of muscles due to the enlargement of the muscle fibers.

According to science, hypertrophy is generated when contractile protein synthesis is more significant than its degradation. (1) This is why protein is essential in a hypertrophy diet.

In a classic gym hypertrophy routine, what is achieved with the exercises is the inflammation and rearrangement of the muscle fibers. This causes more proteins to be deposited on the cell membrane, increasing its size.

Although gaining volume can always be achieved with exercise and diet, genetics also affects this process. Some studies estimate that muscle genetics have a 35-80% influence on muscle hypertrophy. (8)

It is important not to confuse the terms hypertrophy and hyperplasia. Although both are related to the size of the muscles, the first is due to the increase in the size of the fibers (already existing), and the second is due to the generation of new muscle fibers.

Hypertrophy is a process that can be achieved naturally with training and a specific diet. Researchers still debate about whether hyperplasia is possible.

Types of muscle hypertrophy

There are two types or classes of muscle hypertrophy – M fibrillar and Sarcoplasmic. The first leads to the development of strength in muscle fibers. While the second is about the increase in volume. (1).

The quality of muscle mass obtained due to one type of hypertrophy or another differs substantially. The myofibrillar produces “dry” and toned muscles, while the sarcoplasmic produces bulky, unmarked muscles.

The fundamental rule to achieving myofibrillar hypertrophy is to do a maximum number of repetitions with moderate weight. To achieve sarcoplasmic hypertrophy, the ideal is to achieve a maximum of 10 repetitions and four series with considerable weight, to reach muscle failure in the last two series.

To avoid the muscles not adapting to the loads, it is also recommended to dedicate at least one day a week to maximum strength (maximum of 6-8 repetitions). This is ideal for the ectomorphic body type.

How to achieve muscle hypertrophy?

To achieve muscle hypertrophy, nutrition must be combined with an intense routine that allows the muscles to recover and respect the hours of sleep. These three processes contribute at different levels and naturally form the basis for hypertrophy.

Here’s how to achieve muscle hypertrophy:

  1. Focus on technique

Neglecting the technique is one of the main mistakes in achieving muscle hypertrophy. In attempting to gain weight, beginners often perform uncontrolled movements and divert loads onto the joints. The result: your muscles work less, and you risk sports injuries. It is more effective to gain volume to start low, improve technique, and increase loads little by little.

  1. Distribute the proteins throughout the day

Although several studies confirm that eating an excess of protein after training does not make sense. If you must distribute them throughout the day. (6,7,8)

Your body can absorb approximately 10 grams of protein per hour, which is essential to achieve hypertrophy. To supplement this amount, ensure that all your main dishes contain good quality protein-rich products.

  1. Sleep well

Gaining volume without resting is impossible. Sleeping well is one of the fundamental bases for the muscles to recover and increase their size. If you find it difficult to sleep, you can try reducing by avoiding using the mobile 1 hour before bedtime, reducing caffeine, and taking melatonin.

  1. Alternate between strength and hypertrophy routines during the week

To increase the overall size of the muscles, you need to combine them with force. This is great for improving levels of hormones related to muscle growth, such as growth hormone and testosterone.

The repetitions should not exceed 12 and 3-4 series in a hypertrophy routine. In a strength routine, you work with a maximum of 8. Alternating maximum repetition days with traditional practices is the best way to advance to the next level.

  1. Measure rest times between sets

Measuring rest times is essential to allow the muscles to recharge energy between one series and another. The optimal rest time to achieve the increase in volume in the gym is around 45-90 seconds.

  1. Rest one month and gain weight

To achieve muscle hypertrophy, you must gradually increase your weight. However, there will likely come when you do not see better results, and you have stalled. Instead of pushing for more, it is better to rest for about 30 days.

Take advantage of that month to do cardio and focus on toning the body. Then you will come back recharged, and you will surely obtain better results in muscle hypertrophy.

  1. Sports Supplements

The primary fuel for muscles is phosphocreatine and muscle glycogen. Glycogen can be regenerated with carbohydrate foods. Creatine is found in meat in smaller amounts and is more difficult to obtain. For this reason, we consider that to achieve muscle hypertrophy, taking creatine monohydrate cyclically is one of the best supplements to help you increase the volume.

Benefits of muscle hypertrophy

Hypertrophy is associated with several benefits, not only at the aesthetic level but also at the level of skills and possible improvements in health.

In particular, muscle hypertrophy gives power to your muscles, accelerates your metabolism, and improves some indicators of your body.

The benefits of hypertrophy are:

  • More muscle strength and power
  • Improve anaerobic endurance
  • More power for longer
  • It helps you learn healthy nutrition
  • Soft tissue symmetry and health
  • Increased caloric expenditure
  • Esthetic

How do you increase the volume of muscles?

The basis of the muscle hypertrophy process is to place significant tension on the muscle fibers, cause micro-damage to the muscles, provide the body with sufficient nutrients and sleep well for them to recover.

Under these conditions, the body’s cells become inflamed, repaired, and muscles grow and increase in size.

The best way to achieve muscle hypertrophy is to combine a routine with weights and free bars under undernutrition to gain muscle mass with a caloric surplus. Also, the process is directly affected by the levels of certain hormones. So the body must have nutrients to make them.

Including basic multi-joint exercises combined with foods rich in zinc and magnesium is an excellent strategy for hypertrophy. This is because they are the raw material for increasing testosterone levels.

Do you have to do cardio to hypertrophy?

To achieve muscle hypertrophy, you must emphasize exercises for volume. The classic strategy is isolation exercises in the gym with machines and bars.

Accompanying a muscle hypertrophy routine with low-intensity resistance training or cardio (swimming, running, elliptical, etc.) is a way to improve muscular endurance or m-hypertrophy. This method is known as active recovery.

On the other hand, HIITcalisthenics, and functional training are excellent ways to improve muscular endurance or m-hypertrophy. However, doing it excessively or continuing a bulking routine is not recommended.

Muscle hypertrophy and lactic acid

It has been confirmed that pain from lactic acid accumulation is not the most critical factor in achieving muscle hypertrophy. (7)

Although the lactate concentration increases in a routine of this type, it is not the most critical factor in increasing muscle volume. Instead, it is related to the maximum resistance that an athlete can have.

By increasing the lactic acid capacity in the body, fatigue is reduced. This is important to improve the distance when running, for example. But in the case of muscle hypertrophy, it is even more essential to provide a sufficient level of creatine and muscle glycogen.


Muscle hypertrophy is defined as an increase in the size of muscle fibers and the fluid that surrounds them.

There are two types of muscle hypertrophy. Sarcoplasmic – volume is worked, and myofibrillar resistance worked.

Exercises with weights and bars in the gym are the best to achieve sarcoplasmic muscle hypertrophy. Alternating between the two types of hypertrophy is essential to accomplish the typical body of fitness professionals.

Exercises with body weight and maximum repetitions are the best strategy to achieve myofibrillar muscle hypertrophy.

Sleeping well, respecting rest times, and concentrating on technique are crucial to achieving muscle hypertrophy.


1. Single versus multiple sets in long-term recreational weightlifters, source

2. Hypertrophy and Muscle Growth, source

3. Muscle Growth: Why, And How, Does A Muscle Grow And Get Stronger, Casey Butt, Ph.D.,  source

4. Nutrient timing revisited: Is there a post-exercise anabolic window ?. Source

5. Is There a Postworkout Anabolic Window of Opportunity for Nutrient Consumption? Clearing up Controversies. Source

6. Defining the anabolic window

of opportunity. Source

7Fundamentals of Human Nutrition / Lactic acids. Source


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