I am currently starting week six of an eight week strength training phase. Some would call it a hypertrophy program, others might disagree. But screw them. Because you can’t even find two people to agree on exactly what that is. If you do, rest assured there are two others with the exact opposite stance.

Hypertrophy means ”

  1. the enlargement of an organ or tissue from the increase in size of its cells”.
  2. Or for me it means “sore every day”.

Well, not that sore, but most days my body knows I just did something to it. I ripped off some pieces from a few different sources, swapped some exercises out for things more inline with my goals, and bang. I dropped it onto a spreadsheet and there it is. It was originally six weeks, but I extended it to eight in week two.

 

I decided to start with strength, because for me it takes longer to improve than conditioning. Increased lean muscle mass is also a by-product of strength. While I really wasn’t looking to get that much bigger, adding some calorie burning muscle mass, sure can’t hurt in the long run. As long as I don’t let it turn to pudding through neglect when all the fun is over.

Basically, I am using heavy weight and week over week progressive overload in specific rep ranges to increase strength and muscle mass. I am not consuming excess calories, and twice my body weight in grams of protein. I am not “bulking” to use the meathead term. I am actually doing this while maintaining a caloric deficit. Some would say it won’t work. How can I gain mass/strength while at a deficit? It sort of bucks the conventional bulk-then cut philosophy.

Short and simple answer: adjust your macros, and don’t over-train. My current macros are carbs:25%, fat: 35%, protein: 40%. I had to play around with it the first few weeks , starting at 30/30/40, until I found what works best. I also don’t spend a ton of time in the gym. I do three strength training sessions a week.  Day 1 Legs and shoulders, day 2 chest and biceps, day 3 back and triceps. I have at least a day in between of no lifting. I may do an extra cardio session, but nothing too intense, just enough to get the blood flowing and help with recovery.

I do basic exercises, between two and three for each body part. Three sets for each. I take two minutes or less of rest between sets (swapping weights counts towards that time). I generally do a warm-up for each body part, a set or two at about 50% max, low volume. This way I am not too burned out when I start. And I use a reverse pyramid, which means my heaviest set is first, 4-6 reps. The I drop weight by 10% and move to 6-8 reps, then drop again and go 8-10 reps. If I can hit six reps, or push a seventh on the first set, I will  increase the weight for the next week. On the second and third sets, I push hard, but not like on the first set. This way, no matter what, my first set is my most productive when I am freshest. Weekly increase in weight doesn’t always happen. Most of the time yes, but I have had some sticky spots to push through.

Week over week, I have seen some pretty good gains, especially on some lifts that have historically been a weakness for me, like barbell bicep curls. This program has me stripped down to the basics. I get through the workout in about an hour. It’s very focused, and very productive. I also make it a point to track everything. I am that guy you see making entries in a small notebook between lifts, then when I get home I transfer those results to my tracking spreadsheet. Before I start my first set, I always look back at the previous workout to see what I should be expecting. Was it easy? Did I barely squeak it out and now I am 5% heavier?

So digest all that and please feel free to give me feedback. Good or bad. When I finish the last week, I will post my starting and ending numbers for my three key lifts: bench press, squat and dead lift. I chose those as my key indicators.

Hey , if you don’t measure, you didn’t gain (or lose depending).

 

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3 thoughts on “Hypertrophy, the pain, the fun, the results?

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