Hypertrophy vs. strength

Fitness & Spa

Here at SnowDome Fitness, we often get told that people want to get bigger and stronger, which while possible, can sometimes be an inefficient method of training. Below we explain why it is often better to pick one or the other to maximise results.

  1. Better nutritional programming

For a start, strength training requires considerable calories to lift the required weights, whereas a person engaging in hypertrophy (muscle building) training may need either a lot of calories for putting on size or less calories if they are looking to add definition. Mazetti et al. found that training in an explosive manner expended significantly more energy than comparably slower, more controlled training, like the reps performed during a hypertrophy program.

  1. More efficient rest

Optimal rest times can ensure you are training at the peak of your ability whilst also avoiding injury. During a hypertrophy workout, one of the most important things to keep in mind is the time your muscle is under tension. To maximise efficiency, take between 40 – 60 seconds rest time. The most important thing when strength training however, is the neuromuscular response. The bodies main energy system in regards to strength training is Adenosine Triphosphate which is used up in a very short amount of time and needs approx. 2 minutes plus to replenish. So too long chatting between hypertrophy sets means no gains, while too little rest between strength sets means you won't be getting that new personal best!

  1. More appropriate weight, repetitions, and sets

As we mentioned above, hypertrophy is all about slow controlled reps, but it is also about total volume (reps x sets), whereas pure strength training is all about lifting the assigned weight (with good form, of course) as fast as possible. So, you would want as many reps with as much weight as possible for hypertrophy, e.g. 4 sets of 10 reps with 20kg gives an overall volume score of 800kg. This example is great for hypertrophy as the muscle is under tension for a long time. However, when you're trying to lift a 1 rep max weight, you want to maximise the available energy so 10 reps isn’t going to be a viable option. When it comes to pure strength training, you want low reps, high weight and high sets, e.g. 5 sets of 5 with 80kg or 5 sets of 3 with 90kg etc. These examples allow for maximum weight to be lifted without the risk of losing form or not having enough energy to perform the required weight.

  1. More specific to your end goal

Whether you are looking to improve your speed over 100m, looking to get stage ready or you're trying to lift a new personal best, the more specific your training method, the faster you will be able to achieve your end goal. Your speed and explosiveness will benefit from strength training due to improvements in neuromuscular adaptations but if you're just looking to get ready for the beach, constantly pushing for a new one rep max is not the best way to go about it. As we often say to clients who come to us with the “bigger and stronger” goal… pick one! It will make your life a lot simpler and achieve your goals a lot faster.

With all that said, keep doing what you're doing if it's working for you or you can see one of the Fitness Team if you want to make some changes.

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