Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Hypertrophy and Volume

I have been lifting heavy and eating a lot.  I always lift heavy, it’s not like I really “go light”, but when you are on a restricted calorie diet, the environment is not there for growth.

Here is some info about Muscle Hypertrophy from Wikipedia:

Strength training typically produces a combination of the two different types of hypertrophy: contraction against 80 to 90% of the one repetition maximum for 2–6 repetitions (reps) causes myofibrillated hypertrophy to dominate (as in powerlifters, olympic lifters and strength athletes), while several repetitions (generally 8 – 12 for bodybuilding or 12 or more for muscular endurance) against a sub-maximal load facilitates mainly sarcoplasmic hypertrophy (professional bodybuilders and endurance athletes). 

Progressive overload is considered the most important principle behind hypertrophy, so increasing the weight, repetitions (reps), and sets will all have a positive impact on growth. Some experts create complicated plans that manipulate weight, reps, and sets, increasing one while decreasing the others to keep the schedule varied and less repetitive. It is generally believed that if more than 15 repetitions per set is possible, the weight is too light to stimulate maximal growth.

Several biological factors such as age and nutrition can affect muscle hypertrophy. During puberty in males, hypertrophy occurs at an increased rate. Natural hypertrophy normally stops at full growth in the late teens. Muscular hypertrophy can be increased through strength training and other short duration, high intensity anaerobic exercises. Lower intensity, longer duration aerobic exercise generally does not result in very effective tissue hypertrophy; instead, endurance athletes enhance storage of fats and carbohydrates within the muscles, as well as neovascularization. An adequate supply of amino acids is essential to produce muscle hypertrophy.

Roy and I  started German Volume Training just after my competition; it’s a lot of reps and a lot of weight, which is increased every week. Add to that the fact that I have increased my calories, reduced aerobics and I take massive amounts of Amino Acids, my body is growing. It’s starting to frighten me just a bit.

Monday I hit Gold’s at opening and did 30 minutes on the stairmill then trained calves. I have been told to bring up the size of my calves, and I think they have really gotten quite shapely, but I still work on them three times a week. At 5:30, a little less than 12 hours later I am at BodyComp Gym training hamstrings with Roy, we would be doing deadlifts.

He loaded up the bar to start my warm ups and then said I would complete 10 reps per set. I told him that really wasn’t possible, I was lifting 200 pounds and I did this on my own last Monday, I could only do 4 sets of 5 reps. He didn’t really say much more other than tell me to start and he would tell me when to end, but I should try to do as many as possible.

I did 10, it was difficult but exhilarating. I kept going; on the 4th set I could only lift 8 times, I think I just didn’t rest long enough.  On the 5th set I did 10 again.

Volume is necessary for growth, so to cause hypertrophy you need to increase sets, reps, weight. You can calculate your volume this way:

Sets x reps x weight.

I lifted a volume of 10,000 pounds Monday night!

5 (sets) x 10 (reps) x 200 (pounds)

My hamstrings are killing me, especially the ham-glute tie-in, but they look good huh?

So to ensure I am keeping up with the “progressive overload” I must increase something. Anything. This is where most people fail. They do the same thing every week, every session. There is no progressive overload. You must increase weight, or sets, or reps, something, but to stay the same, is a wasted day in the gym.

Adequate food is important, so I must ensure a calorie surplus. This doesn’t mean eat whatever I like, on the contrary. I am eating more of my regular foods, although I am much more relaxed about it all. I will eat a bit more peanut butter, or maybe more fruit, but certainly am not hanging out eating candy bars, that won’t help my muscles grow.

I also take Branched Chain Amino Acids all day long. I have powdered BCAA”s in my water when I train (20 grams, 4 times the amount the bottle says is the recommended dose) and I take 1000 grams in gel tab format 5 times a day too.

Lots of BCAA’s

I am 129 pounds now, 10 pounds heavier than I was on May 5. I look muscular, like a little bull. Sure I have some fat, but I still look fairly lean. It’s making me wonder just how big I can get, and do I really want to get any bigger?

Today a guy at work was commenting on it. He said he was watching me walk, and I walk different. He said “Your legs…they are…bigger. You walk differently.”


It makes me excited to go on a fat cutting diet; I am excited to see what I will look like then. I am waiting though, I am not done yet.