Shape Personal Training

What is Hypertrophy?

Higher Reps or More Weight for Hypertrophy?

By David Nguyen

Hypertrophy is when our muscle resynthesises at a higher rate than muscle breakdown. In order to achieve this we need to look at our training as well as our nutrition as these will be two of the major factors. When we talk about hypertrophy there are 2 types that we refer to, myofibrillar and sarcoplasmic which differ from both an aesthetic and performance point of view. We also have pathways, cells and mechanisms which will be explored to give us a better understanding of hypertrophy.

Sarcoplasmic involves cell swelling, this occurs when the cells of the muscle are swelled up from sarcoplasmic fluids. By causing the cell to swell we create pressure within the cell against the membrane, doing so stimulation anabolic pathways ultimately leading to an increase in protein synthesis. Cell swelling relies predominantly on glycolysis, an energy pathway that utilises glucose to create high levels of lactate. This concept will further be discussed later when looking at the mechanisms of hypertrophy.

Myofibrillar hypertrophy is the actual growth of muscle fibres which will in turn gain more myofibrils. This type of hypertrophy will cause more density in a muscle as the muscle fibres themselves are growing larger. From this we will create the potential to exert more force when compared to sarcoplasmic hypertrophy. Myofibrillar hypertrophy also increases the density of the muscle as the muscle fibres themselves grow larger when compared to sarcoplasmic hypertrophy.

Knowing this, it is best to say train within a range of rep ranges. Have a plan where you can work from one range of reps to another without too large of a spread. This can work well with an undulating or a linear approach!


Here is an example of each (note these are for the A series of each phase):