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Ultimative Guide to (Muscle) Hypertrophy

01.06. 2021

Hypertrophy is a term used to describe the growth and enlargement of muscle cells. The best known form of muscle hypertrophy arises from physical activity, such as strength training.

The mechanism of hypertrophy

Hypertrophy develops through a physiological process which leads to an increased number of contractile proteins (actin and myosin) in each muscle fibre. With the right training regimen, you can speed up this process.

The body has an amazing potential to adapt to its surroundings. This includes building more strength and muscle mass. By loading the cells repeatedly, the body receives a signal to make structural changes, because more strength and muscles are now needed. This is exactly what the process of  strength workoutoffers.

Hypertrophy can be seen as a strengthening of muscle fibres that occurs when load is applied to the body at the right doses to indicate that it needs to build bigger and stronger muscles that can withstand this increased load. This need causes a cellular response that results in cells synthesizing more material.

 

Conditions of hypertrophy

For muscles to grow, two things must happen: stimulation and repair. Sleeping cells, so-called satellite cells, which are located between the outer and basement membranes of a muscle fibre, are activated by trauma, damage or injury - these are all possible responses to the stress of strength training. The reaction of the immune system is triggered, leading to inflammation, a natural process of cleansing and repairing that takes place at the cellular level.

At the same time, a hormonal reaction is triggered, which causes the release of the growth factor, cortisol and testosterone. These hormones help regulate cellular activity. Growth factors stimulate muscle hypertrophy, while testosterone boosts protein synthesis. This process leads to the proliferation of satellite cells and the migration of their daughter cells into damaged tissue. Here, they connect to the skeletal muscle and donate their nuclei to muscle fibres so that the fibres can strengthen and grow. To put it clearly and simply: bigger muscles with improved tolerance to greater loads.

Optimization tips

  • Repetition and rest cycle: 8-12 repetitions per set, with a pause of 60-90 seconds recommended between sets
  • Lift a sufficient load. Upon the 12th repetition, your muscle should no longer handle a single repetition
  • Above all, you should pay attention to your form. Too heavy loads and poor condition will not have any good effect on muscle growth at all

 

Genetic effects on hypertrophy

Although the process of hypertrophy is the same for everyone, your results are likely to be different from the results achieved by those who do the same exercises. This variation in results is directly caused by the genetic composition of the individual’s muscles. In some people, the process of hypertrophy is much more pronounced or faster than in others.

If you won the genetic lottery, you can build bigger muscles or do it faster than others. Unfortunately, the other way around is also possible.

Even if you really want nice, rounded, full biceps, it may not work. The shape of a muscle is determined by the length of the muscle tendons. Tendon length is a genetic factor.

For larger muscles, it is better to have shorter muscle tendons. Someone with extremely long muscle tendons may notice less muscle growth and shaping than someone with much shorter muscle tendons, even if the intensity of their workout is the same or even higher. 

But remember that your muscles can adapt quickly to your workout. It is important to constantly strain the muscles so that growth and better definition can still be achieved. Therefore, it is necessary to regularly increase the load and thus give the muscles a suitable workout stimulus. Try to gradually increase it every week. Do you need a workout plan? Our staff at the Kotva fitness studio will be happy to help and advise you.