Perhaps you have looked in the mirror and noticed you are not in the shape you want to be, or thought you would be. You are putting in the work at the gym, and watching your diet, but you are not seeing the results you thought you would. You can tell you are a little bit stronger, but the definition of your body hasn’t changed in the ways you desire. So, what can you do differently to build the muscle you desire? Within this article, we’re going to look at a couple of concepts which could help reinvigorate your workouts, including Hypertrophy, as well as the difference between isolated muscle training and powerlifting.
The very definition of Hypertrophy states it involves an increase in the size of skeletal muscle thru a growth in the size of its component cells. The component cells are broken down into two different categories:
Sarcoplasmic – This is the area of your body which houses all the necessary factors to help grow your muscles. These elements include water, glycogen, and minerals, along with other elements which help expand the muscle base within each body. When you see someone who is fully bulked out, they have focused on the Sarcoplasmic portions of their body. However, just because they are more bulked out does not mean they are “stronger”. The muscles look more menacing; however, those muscles were built using volume, rather than by intensity. These kinds of muscles will deflate just as quickly as they were built if there are no Myofibrillar tissues built inside of them.
Myofibrillar – The Myofibrillar tissue is the actual cell structure of any muscle, and the Myofibrillar Hypertrophy focused regimen is designed to increase the number of these types of muscles within your body. These structures can actually increase within the Sarcoplasmic area; as you build more Myofibrillar muscles, the Sarcoplasmic area has no choice but to expand in order to house all of the new muscle structures which are sprouting up.
So, how do you build each area up, in order to maximize the effect it can have on your body through your workouts?
For Sarcoplasmic buildup, you need to focus on the Volume of what you do within your workout. If you currently do three reps, you should go up to five, and not only this, but you should plan on spending up to two hours at the gym, five days a week. When you take this approach, you are using your muscles more often, which will eventually cause them to expand. When they expand, you are conditioning your body to be ready to take on more activity.
If this is the only approach you take with your workouts, you have to be aware of two side effects. The first is Muscle Fatigue. If you use your muscles too much without giving them a chance to recharge thru rest and nourishment from your diet, then the muscles will give out on you. When this happens, you’ll be more open to tears or pulls, which will sideline you for weeks until they heal up. The other idea to be aware of concerns not building up the actual inner muscle fiber. If you then go a couple of weeks without working out, after going at a high volume for a while, then the muscles will start to contract, as there is no muscle fiber on the inside to help keep the cell structure bulked out.
The alternative is to ensure you focus on both the Sarcoplasmic and Myofibrillar muscle structures, to ensure you have a more balanced approach, which will actually deliver the results you are looking for faster than you might anticipate. For the longest time, scientists have talked about workouts which involve volume lifting, and only focusing on this aspect. However, there are plenty of recent studies which suggest that working out with intensity is actually better for your long-term goals of building muscle *AND* strength. Obviously, you still need to have volume; bench pressing a weight one time with great intensity doesn’t actually do anything for your body. However, instead of doing five sets of a certain exercise, you should focus on that exercise for only three sets, but have a greater increase in weight. Not only is this kind of exercise better for you, but you also don’t have to spend as much time at the gym – only three to four times a week, for up to 1 ½ hours on each trip. This more focused exercise program can help you achieve the look and results you desire in a faster amount of time.
Split Exercises versus Strength Exercise
There is some debate among the weight lifting community concerning focusing on certain body parts within each gym session versus focusing on overall strength exercises within each workout. When you complete a workout, and only focus on one certain muscle group within each workout, you are doing your body a disservice. If a certain muscle group is only used once or twice a week, there is no chance for that muscle group to grow and develop. More than likely, if this is your routine, then you have not increased the weight you exercise with, and are just maintaining. If this is your goal, then no worries; however, if your goal is to build strength and muscle, then you need to get away from Split Exercising, and focus on Strength Exercises. By focusing on Strength, you will build the right muscle base for your long-term health by increasing the weight of the weights you use in your workout. In order to build strength, you have to use heavier weights than what you were one year ago, or even one month ago. So, you have to ask yourself – do you want to maintain, or do you want to increase your strength?
When it comes to building bigger and better muscle, it is clear you should focus on intensity and overall strength exercises. This is not to say you don’t need volume within your exercise program, or occasionally focus on one particular muscle group. By focusing on Intensity and Strength though, you will see the results you desire in a shorter amount of time; these results will last longer and create more benefits for your body.