Hypertrophy vs. strength training

Hypertrophy vs. strength training

Hypertrophy and strength training are two major types of fitness programs. These can be termed as the ultimate goals of the person which he/she want to accomplish through a particular workout routine. However, it is important to be clear about these two entities so that you can choose the required workout program by keeping the end result in mind. If you want to have big bulky muscles, you will need to have a different workout routine in contrast to a person who just wants a better athletic performance with strong muscles. The training for both these particular programs is completely different. Let’s describe the major differences between hypertrophy and strength training to bring more clarity in choosing a particular program and attaining the desired fitness results.

What is hypertrophy?

Hypertrophy is a Greek word that means increase in size. The number of muscle cells in a given cross-sectional area remains the same; it’s just an increased size of muscle cells. It is same as bodybuilding and can be used interchangeably. The salient features of hypertrophy include:

  • Hypertrophy causes an increase in the size of an individual muscle (not length) due to continuous workload on that particular muscle. In response to heavy workload, muscle fibers get stimulated and increase in size.
  • This increased muscle mass is also termed as sarcoplasmic hypertrophy. Sarcoplasm is the inner fluid-containing part of muscle cells. When such muscle cells are stimulated by exercise; quantity of the sarcoplasmic fluid increases, giving bulk to the related muscle cells without adding to its power.
  • It also involves an increase in the size of the tendons and ligaments that are present in joints and connect muscles to their relevant bones. However, they grow at a lesser pace than muscle fibers which enhances the chances of their injury. Lighter hypertrophy alleviates this risk as it gives proper time to this connective tissue to match up with muscle growth.
  • When you are training for hypertrophy; your frequency is going to be high. Your rest intervals are going to be short. Your volume is going to be sort of high. These are the basic parameters for bodybuilding.
  • Usually, 5 exercises per muscle group for 10-12 sets and rest periods are usually 2 minutes.
  • When trying to bulk trying to get big muscles, calorie intake is going to be higher as you’re spending a lot of calories, a lot of energy because you’re doing so much the frequency and the volume is very high.
  • High protein intake is required for hypertrophy. You need to take 2 grams of proteins per kilogram of the body weight. Important nutrients for hypertrophy training include Beta-alanine, Creatine, nitric oxide booster, and HMB.
  • Hypertrophy training ‘tones’ the body into a bulky strong appearance. It improves posture and boosts confidence.

What is strength training?

Strength training is aimed at having an athletic body with more strength and durability. It requires producing effective force by muscles and involves moving heavier weights over time. Weight lifting is an easy example for strength training. It is the base of an overall fitness regardless of your body shapes. It differs from hypertrophy in:

  • Strength training stimulates the neuronal response causing increased and frequent currents in muscle increasing the strength. Its opposite in hypertrophy as that involves a muscular response and muscle modification to increased size instead of primary neuronal response.
  • The nervous system dictates the involved group of muscles to produce more force and get stronger as a conditioning response.
  • Generally speaking, the volume is going to be lower, their frequency a little bit lower in strength training. The intensities are higher so your resting levels are going to be a lot longer.
  • 2 exercises per muscle group for 4-5 sets with 2-3 minutes of resting period.
  • In strength training, you need fewer calories as compared to hypertrophy as it’s less resistant and involves lesser periods of intensity.
  • Diet recommendations are the same as both are muscles related and muscle is made of proteins. High protein intake is advised containing all the essential amino acids. Creatine, carbohydrates, B-complex vitamins, caffeine and protein powder are recommended nutrients for strength training.
  • Strength training removes the fat and gives an attractive athletic look with high performing muscles and loads of power.


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