Best Hypertrophy Programs

Barbell Medicine
October 31, 2023
Reading Time: 27 minutes
Table of Contents

    Hypertrophy training has one end goal — increasing muscle mass. But, the methods of achieving this goal will vary from person to person, as will the results of training. [1] In order to maximize muscle hypertrophy, you need to choose the right program.

    In our opinion, the best hypertrophy programs are the Hypertrophy I Template new lifters (after a beginner program), and the Hypertrophy II, Bodybuilding I, and Bodybuilding II Training Templates for more seasoned lifters.

    Check out our comparison chart below for a more comprehensive look into the programs, and keep reading on for more details on each.

    Hypertrophy Training Plan Comparison Chart

    ProgramHypertrophy I Training TemplateHypertrophy II Training TemplateBodybuilding I Training TemplateBodybuilding II Training Template
    Duration10 Weeks10 Weeks6 to 18+ Weeks6 to 32+ Weeks
    Suggested Equipment*   * Weights of your choice will work, though having more options is great for the Bodybuilding templates.  -Barbell -Squat rack -Bench -Dumbbells and machines optional  -Barbell -Squat rack -Bench -Dumbbells and machines optional-Barbell -Squat rack -Bench -Dumbbells -Machines optional-Barbell -Squat rack -Bench -Dumbbells -Machines
    Workouts Per Week3 to 54 to 64 to 63 to 6
    Main FocusMuscle HypertrophyMuscle HypertrophyMuscle HypertrophyMuscle Hypertrophy
    Best ForNewer Lifters (3+ months of experience)Intermediates  (6-12+ months of experience)Advanced Lifters (9-12+ months of experience)Advanced Lifters (1-2+ Years of experience)

    Trusting the Barbell Medicine Approach

    Hopefully, you’ve already started to appreciate the depth of the conversation around hypertrophy we’ve presented here and started to understand our data-driven and evidence-based approach. We provide a comprehensive service that includes the following;

    • An experienced team of trained professionals from various health-related backgrounds, from medical doctors and physical therapists to dietitians and performance coaches.
    • Personalized, evidence-based programs for our clients based on their goals, resources, and preferences.
    • Help is made available on every step of your journey, and we make sure to provide the best coaching and nutritional plans to ensure maximum gains without injury.
    • Dedicated coaching programs where we’ll continuously measure your progress, which allows us to tweak your program and provide recommendations accordingly.

    We have a buzzing community of like-minded people currently training with us. We have worked with many professional athletes competing in different fields, such as Olympic weightlifting, bodybuilding, CrossFit and powerlifting.

    See for yourself. Log onto our forum or follow us on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook to join our community of fitness enthusiasts, and see what others have to say (We’ve also got  super informative YouTube and podcast channels, which are totally worth checking out if you’re into fitness content. Just sayin’).

    Best Hypertrophy Training Programs

    • Hypertrophy I Template
    • Hypertrophy II Template
    • Bodybuilding I Template
    • Bodybuilding II Template

    Choosing the right program may be hard, especially if you’re not an experienced coach or lifter. . Beginners have different needs than advanced lifters, and your program is going to look quite different depending on your fitness level. So, we’ve handpicked two programs that can help you based on where you’re at in your fitness journey. And better yet, if you’re not sure which program is right for you, or you feel like none of them are a good fit, we can also create a personalized hypertrophy program tailored just for you.

    Hypertrophy I Template

    Hypertrophy I Template

    The Hypertrophy I training template is a 10-week program for newer lifters who want to prioritize hypertrophy after completing a beginner program, but it will also work for more seasoned lifters who have either haven’t focused on hypertrophy in a while (or ever) or who are wanting to spend less time in the gym for a little bit.

    It includes three lifting workouts consisting of hypertrophy-focused exercises and rep schemes, along with two general physical preparedness(GPP) workouts that include conditioning and direct arm, upper back, and core work. The GPP workouts can be performed after a lifting session or on separate days.

    While this program does focus on hypertrophy, it is also likely to improve strength in the movements trained.

    Hypertrophy II Template

    Hypertrophy II Template

    The  Hypertrophy II program is aimed at more intermediate and advanced lifters with six to 12 months of experience or more in barbell lifting. Due to its higher volume and training stressl, we don’t recommend this template for lifters without a significant lifting history. It just won’t work as well as something more appropriately dosed.

    This program is also 10 weeks long and much like Hypertrophy I, it’s aimed at increasing muscle mass rather than maximal strength. Nevertheless, we expect users to gain strength in the movements they select.

    It includes four lifting workouts consisting of hypertrophy-focused exercises and rep schemes, along with two general physical preparedness(GPP) workouts that include conditioning and direct arm, upper back, and core work. The GPP workouts can be performed after a lifting session or on separate days.

    Bodybuilding I Template

    The  Bodybuilding II program is aimed at more advanced lifters with at least nine to 12 months of experience or more in barbell lifting.While similar to our hypertrophy templates, the Bodybuilding I Template includes more isolation work, more training volume, and some advanced techniques designed to maximize muscular hypertrophy.

    A quick note.It is likely that some individuals will actually respond better, e.g. gain more muscle, to some of our other programs, given that there are large differences in how individuals respond to a given program.[1] However, these templates and accompanying text serve as a guide for prioritizing muscular size.

    The Bodybuilding I Template includes three 6-Week Templates. These templates, e.g. Block I, II and III, can be run in succession as a one long hypertrophy-focused training cycle or one off as a single block of training. In general, we’d recommend individuals starting with the Bodybuilding I before graduating to the Bodybuilding II and, similarly, completing Bodybuilding II before Bodybuilding III. A 25-page eBook discussing the science of hypertrophy, nutrition, and programming is also included.

    In each mesocycle, the weekly program includes both resistance training and aerobic conditioning in order to both increase muscular size and meet the current exercise guidelines for health purposes. [2]

    Each block consists of four days of resistance training involving three to six exercises per day. Over the course of the training week, all the major muscle groups are hit with what we predict is the correct amount of volume, intensity, and frequency, to drive muscular hypertrophy. Also included are two general physical preparedness(GPP) workouts of conditioning that include conditioning and direct arm, upper back, and core work. The GPP workouts can be performed after a lifting session or on separate days.

    This program is even more focused on muscle mass over strength than the Hypertrophy Templates. Despite this, we still expect the user to gain strength in the movements he or she picks on the customizable template due to the considerable overlap between training for strength versus size. Specifically, both goals require resistance training to load the musculoskeletal system through a relatively large range of motion, using a variety of rep ranges, and employing a similar proximity to failure in order to generate adaptations in the muscle, nervous system, bony skeleton, and more.

    Therefore, we predict that good strength training programs will tend to produce increases in muscle size and good hypertrophy programs will increase strength in the lifts trained given proper nutrition, sleep, and so on.

    Bodybuilding II Template

    Bodybuilding II Template

    The Bodybuilding II Template for advanced lifters with at least 1 to 2 years of experience or more in lifting weights, as it takes the hypertrophy focus to an even higher level with more isolation work, more training volume, partial-lengthened reps, and advanced techniques.

    Individuals who have been focused on strength, e.g. they’ve been running a powerlifting- or strength-focused program or similar, who are looking to break up their training for 4-6+ weeks with a muscle size-focused program.

    The Bodybuilding II Template includes four 8-Week Templates. These templates, e.g. Block I 3-day, Block I 4 day, Block II 4-day and Block III 4-day, can be run in succession as a one long hypertrophy-focused training cycle or one off as a single block of training. An expanded 60-page eBook discussing the science of hypertrophy, nutrition, and programming is also included.

    Each block consists of three four days of resistance training involving five to six exercises per day. Over the course of the training week, all the major muscle groups are hit with what we predict is the correct amount of volume, intensity, and frequency, to drive muscular hypertrophy. Additionally, each template includes three to four days of conditioning. The Bodybuilding II template gradually introduces the trainee to aerobic and anaerobic conditioning elements over time to improve cardiorespiratory fitness, work capacity, and body composition while meeting the current physical activity guidelines.[2]

    As far as strength improvements go, this template pulls out all the stops to focus on hypertrophy and puts strength on the back burner. Nevertheless, the double progression and inclusion of lots of compound exercises seems to do a pretty good job at increasing strength in the lifts the user chooses in the fully customizable templates.

    What Is Hypertrophy?

    To fully understand what hypertrophy is, we’d have to go into the very basics — starting with the definition of muscle hypertrophy. Muscle hypertrophy is defined in most studies as an increase in total mass of a muscle, whereas a decrease in total mass of a muscle is referred to as atrophy. [3]

    Now, each muscle is made up of thousands to hundreds of thousands (or more) of muscle fibers and in general, it is thought that the number of skeletal muscle fibers in humans is more or less fixed by the first year of life. [4] While there’s active debate around the idea that humans can increase the number of muscle fibers they have- termed hyperplasia– the research suggests the overwhelming majority of increased muscle mass is to to an increase in muscle fiber size. [4-6]

    An increase in muscle fiber size occurs when muscle protein synthesis exceeds muscle protein breakdown for sustained periods of time. While this may sound like muscle damage is needed for muscle growth, hypertrophy seems to lag until muscle protein breakdown is minimized and muscle protein synthesis predominates. [7,8] In other words, hypertrophy lags until the individual adapts to it. If the training dose is far too high, that may not happen at all.

    Muscle fibers change in size in response to the demands placed upon them by way of altering protein synthesis and breakdown signals. In the conventional hypertrophy model, lifting weights requires the muscles to produce force in a manner that generates metabolic stress, which ultimately stimulates muscle protein synthesis. The subsequent repair and remodeling of the muscles in response to this damage leads to an increase in muscle size. [7-9]

    Though the mechanisms for generating increased muscle mass are the same across individuals, there is a wide range of hypertrophy responses even using the same training program. For example, a landmark study showed that muscle size changes ranged from -11% to +30% in 287 adults following the same program over 6-months. The age and sex of the individual didn’t really influence their hypertrophy response, but each individual had a unique response to the program. [1]  Nonetheless, the variables that drive muscle hypertrophy are quite similar. We’ll walk you through some of them.

    Mechanical tension

    Muscles create force – known as mechanical tension– when the muscle fibers receive an electrical signal to contract.  This is essential for muscle growth, as a muscle that is not loaded and required to produce force in some manner is unlikely to grow. [9]  Lifting weights forces the muscle to overcome external resistance, but this isn’t the only way to generate mechanical tension.

    For example, stretching a muscle creates tension and recent human data showed that individuals following 6 weeks of static stretching, but no other exercise, increased the size of their calves. [10] This example is more illustrative of the effects of mechanical tension, as it’s unlikely that stretching – particularly in the absence of a progressively loaded resistance training program – will lead to significant muscular hypertrophy.

    Range of Motion

    Range of motion (ROM) can be defined as the degree of movement occurring at a specific joint during an exercise. [11] Squatting below parallel and touching the chest during bench press increases range of motion, whereas stopping above parallel or a few inches of the chest decreases it. Increasing the range of motion of an exercise produces more hypertrophy than a shorter one, though this isn’t always the case.

    While increasing the range of motion tends to require the involvement of more muscle mass that’s stretched under more mechanical load than compared to movements with less range of motion, partial range of motion exercises have also been shown to produce hypertrophy, albeit less. [9,12,13] Partial range of motion exercises done at moderate or longer muscle lengths may work as well for hypertrophy, if not better than traditional, full range of motion for some exercises. [14] These are often called lengthened partials, which would be something like doing the first half of a biceps curl, when the muscle is lengthened.

    When it comes to range of motion and hypertrophy, the bottom line is that a relatively large range of motion is preferable than a much shorter partial ROM. If two exercises’ range of motion are pretty similar, e.g. a squat below parallel and a squat to parallel, then there’s unlikely to be a big difference in hypertrophy results.

    Metabolic Stress

    Resistance training relies heavily on anaerobic (without oxygen) pathways to create energy (ATP) for the muscles. This results in the buildup of metabolic byproducts such as hydrogen ions, inorganic phosphate, creatine, lactate, and others. Research has continually shown that these metabolic byproducts are associated with muscle hypertrophy, though it is not clear they’re directly causal. [15.16]

    Anytime the muscles are contracting during resistance training, they’re producing these metabolites, making it hard to determine whether metabolites contribute to hypertrophy or if it’s just the mechanical force from muscular contractions. Based on the present data, it appears the majority of muscular hypertrophy is caused by mechanical signals, whereas metabolites may have an indirect role. [17]

    When the muscles are required to create force repeatedly in an anaerobic environment, more and more metabolic byproducts are generated. Numerous studies show that increased concentrations of these byproducts signal anabolic pathways in skeletal muscle, thus driving muscular hypertrophy.

    Training Volume

    In resistance training volume can be defined as the total amount of reps performed, e.g., the product of sets and reps. Muscular hypertrophy has been shown to have a dose-dependent relationship with training volume, e.g. the higher the training volume, the greater the hypertrophy, provided the individual can handle it. [18,19]

    You see,  if the volume of the training and resulting training stress is too high, an individual will incur too much muscle protein breakdown from the training to actually increase muscle size. Rather, it’s only when the training is dosed correctly that muscle protein breakdown is minimized and muscle protein synthesis predominates  that muscles actually grow. [7,8]

    One way to increase volume without raising training stress beyond what some can tolerate is to use isolation exercises, e.g. exercises that use only a single joint. Using isolation exercises allows a trainee to target specific muscle groups directly, which is likely to improve hypertrophy compared to compound lifts that also load the muscle(s) or not loading the muscle at all. [20,21]

    Additionally, isolation exercisesuse less muscle mass and lower absolute weight than compound lifts, which reduces the amount of fatigue created from a given set and rep scheme performed at a particular RPE. Due to the reduced amount of fatigue generated with isolation exercises, a trainee can perform more sets, more reps, and similar or higher RPEs compared to compound lifts.

    A good hypertrophy program is likely to have higher training volume compared to a strength program. By combining compound and isolation exercises together and using autoregulation, we can be sure the individual is getting a dose of training stress they can handle. 

    Hormonal factors

    Much has been made of hormones and their relative importance to building muscle. While it is true that a great number of hormones are involved in transferring the mechanical signal of lifting weights into actual new muscle tissue, the scientific evidence to date does not support the idea of trying to optimize hormone levels as a method of increasing growth further.

    Dubbed the “hormone hypothesis”, post-workout changes in testosterone, cortisol, growth hormone, Insulin-like Growth Factor-1, and more are definitely involved in the pathways leading to muscle growth. However, differences in levels of these hormones don’t seem to be predictive of more or less muscle gain in individuals. [22]

    For example, testosterone levels increase after exercise within about 30-minutes and returns to baseline over the course of the next 3 hours. The elevation of testosterone during this period coincides with a downregulation in androgen receptors to bind to, whereas the return to baseline testosterone levels is matched with an upregulation in androgen receptors. It’s not clear whether the degree of acute testosteronemia matters with respect to hypertrophy or strength gain, but any effect is likely to be modest. [23,24]

    Additionally, testosterone levels do not predict how much muscle or strength someone gains over time unless given at very high levels. Men and women tend to gain about the same relative amounts of strength and hypertrophy in response to a training program, despite large differences in testosterone levels. For clarity, absolute levels of strength and muscle gain tend to be higher in men, but the relative improvements are similar. [1, 25, 26]

    Myofibrillar hypertrophy

    Muscle fibers are long, thin, cells with multiple nuclei composed of myofibrils floating in a watery substance known as sarcoplasm. Myofibrillar hypertrophyrefers to an increase in the size and mass of the myofibrils, e.g. the contractile proteins of a muscle. Based on animal studies the number of myofibrils does not seem to increase (de novo myofibrillogenesis) after birth, though no human studies have investigated this to date [27]

    Muscles are composed of ~75% water, ~10-15% contractile or myofibrillarproteins, and ~5% non-contractile or sarcoplasmic proteins. [28] Despite making up a relatively small fraction of muscle tissue, myofibrils occupy nearly 85% of the space inside a muscle cell. The rest of the space is occupied by mitochondria, the energy powerhouses of the cell, and sarcoplasm, the fluid component that maintains the proper environment for the muscle fibers. [29]

    In the conventional hypertrophy model, lifting weights results in muscle growth through proportional expansions of both the myofibrillar proteins and sarcoplasm. That means that the majority of the increase in muscle size is due to an increase in myofibrillar protein size, with a smaller contribution from increased sarcoplasm. [30] Most data looking at what’s happening at the level of the muscle as it increases in size shows either a proportional increase in the myofibrils and sarcoplasm, or a disproportionate increase in myofibril size compared to the sarcoplasm. [31]

    Put simply, it is relatively rare that  muscle growth occurs from increases in the sarcoplasm alone. What about those rare occasions though?

    Sarcoplasmic hypertrophy

    Sarcoplasmic hypertrophyis defined as the growth or expansion of the sarcoplasm. Currently, there is some evidence that higher volume training promotes a bias towards sarcoplasmic hypertrophy to a greater extent compared to higher load training, though it’s not clear if this is permanent or just a reflection of when the muscle was evaluated. [28] More recently, it has been suggested that the acute increases in sarcoplasmic hypertrophy may be training-induced swelling (edema), a transient mechanism for muscle growth, and/or a “trigger” for myofibrillar growth where the increased sarcoplasmic component allows for greater myofibrillar growth in well-trained individuals. It may also be that lasting sarcoplasmic hypertrophy occurs when highly-trained individuals reach a limit to myofibrillar hypertrophy. [31]

    Taken together, it seems likely that sarcoplasmic hypertrophy is more of a transient feature of lifting weights outside of maybe advanced lifters. It does not seem likely that specific training styles or programs tend to produce more or less myofibrillar or sarcoplasmic hypertrophy. Rather, they’re likely both happening at the same time in a manner proportional to muscle tissue’s composition.

    Progressive Overload

    Hypertrophy training requires continually challenging our muscles, and this is achieved through progressive overload.  The Principle of “Progressive Overload” holds that in order to generate fitness adaptations over time, the body must be challenged by progressively greater training stimuli. As aspects of fitness improve, the workout must be adjusted to match the individual’s new level of fitness.

    Progressive overload is often misunderstood and misapplied, as people take the word “overload” to mean the training must get harder in order to drive improvement. However, this isn’t what progressive overload means at all and in order to help people understand this better, we prefer the term progressive loading.

    As people increase their fitness and get stronger, the weight or reps completed must increase to match. By matching the training to the individual’s current fitness level, we can be sure that the body is receiving the right signal to improve strength and size.

    Progressive loading aside, no program is going to work forever. Invariably, everyone will stop making progress and plateau at some point.  Using periodization, the planned manipulation of training variables over time, we can continue to progress and prevent stagnation. In practice, this means adjusting rep schemes, intensity, number of sets, and exercise selection systematically, every 4-8 weeks or so. Iteratively changing the program based on the individual’s response is key to ensuring progress over time.


    Nutrition is assumed to play an important role in training outcomes, most notably weight management, body composition, and hypertrophy. While there is no single “perfect” diet for health and performance, there are some common features that we will discuss below.

    Total daily Calorie (energy) intake should achieve healthy body fat and muscle mass levels, while also supporting appropriate amounts of physical activity. However, the composition of the diet does play an important role in other ways.

    Macronutrients are the food-based compounds that humans eat in the biggest quantities, which include protein, carbohydrates, fat, and alcohol. [32,33] The specific macronutrient composition of a diet — such as “higher carb, lower fat” or “higher fat, lower carb” — has less significance for determining body weight compared to overall Calorie intake. 

    For example, dietary protein intake should target around 1.6 grams of protein per kilogram of total body weight per day in order to maximize results from training unless there is a specific medical reason to consume less. [34] In other words, protein intake lower than this is likely to produce smaller improvements in strength, hypertrophy, and endurance.  Achieving this minimum level of protein in the diet isn’t a huge stretch, as the average protein intake in the United States is about 1.0 gram per kilogram body weight per day. [35]

    With respect to carbohydrates, recent evidence has suggested that low intake of dietary carbohydrates may reduce improvements in muscle hypertrophy, strength, and endurance, particularly in trained individuals. [36,37] Based on the existing evidence, we recommend a carbohydrate intake of ~ 1 to 4 grams per kilogram of total body weight per day or more from fiber-containing foods like whole grains, legumes, fruits, and vegetables. Total amount of carbohydrate intake should be consistent with the total daily Calorie intake and dietary preferences of the individual. [38]  We would recommend against a very low carbohydrate diet, e.g. less than ~100 grams of carbohydrate per day  for trained individuals whose goals include significant muscular hypertrophy or strength, though a low-carbohydrate diet may be a reasonable choice for individuals new to exercise training who are trying to lose weight.

    For dietary fat intake, we recommend eating as many servings of dietary fat as is consistent with the total calorie intake and dietary preferences of the individual. Fats should be primarily unsaturated, e.g., from seafood and plant sources, with saturated fat limited to approximately 10% or less of total Calories.

    Finally,  a protein supplement may be beneficial for health and performance for those who would otherwise not consume the recommended amount of protein. [39] A small set of supplements have research showing benefit for performance; these are found in our Peri-Rx supplement, if that is consistent with someone’s goals.


    Many studies have found that aging tends to reduce muscle mass and muscle strength starting around the 4th decade of life. [40] While much has been made of hormonal changes, e.g. a decrease in testosterone, more recent data has shown that the apparent decrease in muscle strength and size is due to reduced levels of activity. [41-43] We also see that older individuals can gain similar amounts of muscle size and strength with training as compared to their youthful counterparts, as results vary more based on the individual rather than their age. [1]

    Still, older individuals – particularly those who don’t exercise – can face problems that younger individuals, anabolic resistance. Anabolic resistance is a reduced muscle protein synthesis response to a given dose of anabolic stimuli, e.g. exercise, dietary protein, and various hormones or growth factors.  Aging, physical inactivity, acute illness/chronic disease, and calorie deficits all promote anabolic resistance. [44,45] 

    To overcome anabolic resistance, a larger dose of stimulus, e.g. more protein, and/or more exercise, is needed when compared with more anabolically sensitive situations. For example, when older individuals do a short bout of exercise like a 10-minute brisk walk, they respond similarly to dietary protein as a younger individual. [46]

    In active older adults, anabolic resistance or not making gains isn’t really something to worry about.  That said, nearly all adults would benefit greatly from lifting weights, particularly the kind that builds muscle and strength.

    The Benefits of Following a Hypertrophy Workout Plan

    While muscle growth is our main focus with hypertrophy training, we shouldn’t overlook the many other advantages it provides. This is because muscle growth itself has many additional benefits, other than the fact it makes you look and feel great. Let’s look into a few of them.

    Disease Prevention

    Participation in lifting weights has long been associated with lowering the risk of many health issues such as type II diabetes, cancer, and cardiovascular diseases. [28]

    Exercising in such a way that increases muscle size and strength also lowers resting blood pressure and blood cholesterol levels, reducing the risk of cardiovascular disease.

    Increased Strength

    While not as effective as strength training in this aspect, we couldn’t say that hypertrophy training doesn’t strengthen you at all. With the large overlap between strength- and hypertrophy-focused training programs, it should be no surprise that most programs lead to improvements in both muscle size and strength. Increasing muscle size also likely helps with improved strength performance.

    At its core, the amount of force a muscle can produce is directly related to how many cross bridges the myofibrils have. The more myofibrillar growth, the main portion of the muscle to grow with hypertrophy, the more cross bridges can be formed. Research has shown that hypertrophied muscle fibers produce more force than smaller ones. [48-50] In theory, more growth should yield more strength. In practice however, things aren’t so clear.

    Muscular strength is measured in a specific context, which means there is a specific skill-set that needs to be developed in order to improve performance. So, if muscle growth occurs from training that does not improve skills of the task or exercise that is being used to test strength, strength may not correlate that well to size increases. Alternatively, if strength is tested before hypertrophy has been developed to a measurable level, it may appear that strength increases without an increase in muscle size. Finally, it could be that strength and size result from overlapping processes that stem from sufficient mechanical loading of the muscles. Using shared machinery to repair, remodel, and improve the muscle leads to simultaneous strength and size improvements, but the increase in size isn’t really the cause of the increased strength. [51]

    Overall, we think it’s likely that muscular hypertrophy is likely a necessary component to an increase in strength. Doing a hypertrophy-focused program that doesn’t develop or maintain the specific skills and adaptations required for maximum strength performance isn’t a great recipe for getting stronger, but in order to get stronger in the long term, most people will have to gian some muscle size.

    Injury Prevention

    Performing resistance training that improves strength and muscle size seems to reduce the risk of injuries. [52] The strengthening and bulking up of the muscles can also serve to prevent sports injuries. Strength training can strengthen bones and promote bone growth, which is crucial for individuals who are at risk of osteoporosis, such as menopausal women. [53]

    Weight Management

    Lifting weights tends to reduce waist circumference by reducing abdominal fat. [54]  Exercise training also appears to increase many individuals’ sensitivity to feelings of fullness when eating, thereby potentially helping with weight maintenance or loss. [55]

    Higher excess post-exercise oxygen consumption (EPOC) from a lifting program is one mechanism that is often touted to reduce abdominal adipose tissue or belly fat.  EPOC represents the additional energy used after a workout to support recovery processes like muscle repair and remodeling. [56] Increases in muscle protein synthesis rates in the post workout period are thought to represent a significant bump in resting energy expenditure. [57] The increase in energy demands necessitates additional oxygen consumption,which is known as excess post-exercise oxygen consumption or EPOC.

    Overall, the energy expenditure during EPOC increases as exercise intensity, volume, and amount of muscle mass used increases in resistance training.  EPOC is also higher in untrained than trained, as many high cost metabolic processes are adapted to in trained individuals so that they become more efficient. [58,59]  It’s not really clear that EPOC actually increases the total amount of Calories used in a day, e.g. the total daily energy expenditure (TDEE) , as this hasn’t really been tested. Existing research shows that the overall energy contribution of EPOC to TDEE is relatively small. [60]

    Another mechanism that’s often cited is that the increase in muscle mass from hypertrophy training increases someone’s resting metabolic rate. The increase in resting metabolic rate  would presumably increase someone’s total daily energy expenditure, but this probably isn’t true either. One kilogram of muscle uses ~ 13 Calories per day, whereas one kilogram of fat uses 4.5 Calories per day. [61] In order to make a significant difference in total daily energy expenditure, someone would have to gain a lot of muscle mass. For example, gaining 10-kilograms of muscle typically takes years and would potentially increase total daily energy expenditure by less than 100 Calories per day.

    Rather, the mechanisms behind lifting weights are far more complex, involving changes at the level of the muscle, endocrine system, the brain, and more tend to result in improved body composition for those who regularly lift weights.

    Aesthetic Improvement

    Many people get into bodybuilding just because they like the look. If you’re one of those people, hypertrophy training may be one of the fastest and most efficient ways to achieve your dream body.

    Better Endurance

    Doing both resistance training and conditioning together in the same program is called concurrent training. Some have argued that by combining two exercise types that rely on different adaptations, there is likely to be an interference effect between the two. That is, muscular hypertrophy and strength improvements are reduced when both types of exercise are done concurrently. [62]

    Fortunately, recent data has shown that undertaking both aerobic and resistance training does not compromise improvements in muscle hypertrophy and maximal strength development. These findings also seem to be independent of current fitness level, age, and the type of aerobic training. [63]

    Interestingly, it looks like doing resistance training actually improves endurance performance. One study found that after 7-weeks, endurance athletes who also participated in resistance training and endurance exercise  improved their VO2max by 12.9%, whereas those only doing endurance exercise improved their VO2max by only 6.8%. [64]

    Healthy Aging

    Hypertrophy training can promote healthy aging in a variety of different ways. We’ve already touched upon how it can help prevent chronic diseases. Apart from that, resistance training resulting that produces increases in hypertrophy can help with osteoarthritis, one of the most common disabling conditions related to joint pain. It most often affects the knees, hips, and hands of middle-aged and older individuals.

    Strength training tends to produce clinically significant improvements in muscle strength, functional ability, and pain scores, even in patients with advanced disease [65] Additionally, starting to lift earlier seems to not only reduce loss of strength associated with osteoarthritis, but also slows down or even stops progression of the disease. [66]

    Regular resistance training has been proven to reduce the risks or symptoms of some mental health disorders such as depression and anxiety. These effects seem to occur regardless if the individuals actually get stronger, but rather a different mechanism that’s currently unknown. [67, 68]

    Lifting weights to build muscle  has also been proven to improve sleep quality in individuals, which is a huge plus, as getting enough sleep is pivotal to having good mental health. [69]

    Are Hypertrophy Training Programs Just for Bodybuilders?

    Absolutely not! With all of its pros, we can safely say that anyone and everyone can benefit from hypertrophy training, regardless of age, sex, or fitness level. The key is to find the right program for your baseline, body type, and goals. While yes, the focus here is growing your muscle mass, which is the aim of many bodybuilders, who wouldn’t want to both look and feel great?


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