More muscle gets you stronger. Not only that, but the further you progress along your fitness journey, the more important hypertrophy work becomes in order to continue progressing.
Although you will definitely make some newbie gains when starting CrossFit-style or functional training, in the long run you need to be doing some hypertrophy assistance work in addition to your usual Crossfit-style workout to better your physical performance and increase your muscle strength.
At Andfit our programming is adjusted so that we include hypertrophy components in our classes with regularity to guarantee a better balanced program and all the benefits that come with hypertrophy work.
We strongly believe that understanding the “why” beyond hypertrophy helps us focus our efforts and get the most out of our time in the gym. Let’s get to it!
So what is “Hi-PER-truh-PHEE”?
Hypertrophy refers to an increase in muscular size achieved through exercise.
This can occur using any rep range. However, it’s generally accepted that about 3-5 sets in the 6-12 rep range elicits the best gains due to the ideal combination of resistance and time under tension. Hypertrophy also focuses on loads between 60-80% of your 1 rep max.
CrossFit-style training tends to be biased more towards metabolic conditioning than the weightlifting volume and progressive load necessary for muscle gains. In fact, when we see hypertrophy style programming, it is typically associated with bodybuilding style training. However, the benefits of it for CrossFit athletes can not be argued.
The Benefits of Hypertrophy Training
Whether you want to break through strength plateaus or just live a more robust and healthy life, more muscle plays a positive role.
We use hypertrophy work to look, feel and perform better. Sounds pretty good to us!
- More Power
First and foremost, hypertrophy training is going to result in increased strength.
Is it possible to build muscle using heavy weights and low reps? Of course. However, for well-trained athletes, it doesn’t always work as well as using lower weights with high rep schemes.
Hypertrophy training can help us build muscle and create a better strength foundation. If an athlete normally squats two to three times a week during a strength building block, a hypertrophy block may have them squatting once a week, with two or three secondary exercises for building muscle and strength in the legs and hips, such as lunges, step-ups, or even more isolative exercises such as glute bridges.
Regularly targeting a given muscle group or groups when the athlete plateaus can help spur new growth and more power.
2. More Endurance
Having more muscle result in improvements in muscular endurance, which we all know is critical in CrossFit.
Basically, building lean muscle helps you get more intensity out of your training, accelerating you towards your goals. Both newer and more advanced athletes can benefit from this, but for newer athletes especially, it’s a great way to create an endurance baseline that will make you last longer under fatigue.
3. Better Technique
We are also going to see improvements in technique from hypertrophy training.
This training is a great opportunity for us to reduce the intensity of our workouts and focus on a lot of perfect reps with relative lightweight.
In addition, targeting a particular muscle or group of muscles to improve strength will help us eliminate a weak spot and improve mechanics.
Often, when an athlete breaks down at a given part of a lift, the breakdown represents a relative lack of strength in a particular muscle or muscle groups.
Fortifying the area in question with muscle mass via targeted exercises can help the athlete eliminate weak spots which improve their mechanics.
4. Injury Prevention
Not only does hypertrophy training helps you squat, deadlift, pull, push, press and row heavier but also safer!
When you think of isolation movements like bicep curls, skull crushers and leg extensions, these types of movements are fantastic toward improving our joint and tendon’s ability to slide and absorb force.
Thickened tendons are less likely to get injured than smaller or thinner ones. Hypertrophy training can make the tendons thicker which will help reduce the risk of injuries.
Also, as we age, the loss of muscle is one of the main causes of many serious injuries due to falls. Preserving muscle mass, or increasing it, will reduce the risk of this happening.
5. Better Metabolic Health
More muscle growth not only boosts performance, but it improves your metabolic health.
Lean muscle helps create a healthy and higher than average metabolism. Since muscle is so active compared to body fat (it takes more energy to maintain more muscle), it raises our Basal Metabolic Rate (BMR), which is the amount of energy you’d burn when you are at rest.
The higher your BMR, the more calories your body burns at rest. Add strength training and conditioning to your workout and you’ve got a recipe for fat loss.
6. Looking Good
Aside from the functional benefits listed above, adding muscle can be also rewarding when you start seeing the visuals of your labor.
Call it what you want: toning, slimming, getting jacked…. Building muscle in a balanced training program creates the strong, athletic, healthy look many of us seek.
Not only even modest amounts of lean muscle can help you fill out your clothing better, but you’ll also become more confident in your skin.
Hypertrophy can be the key
We learnt that more muscle is healthy for metabolism, strength, function, injury prevention and self-esteem. And we learnt that hypertrophy training can help with all of these.
While many athletes often concentrate on strength programming which focuses primarily on loads of 80% and above for low reps along with conditioning work, they often leave out the middle ground – loads between 60-80% for moderately high reps – which is where hypertrophy can fill the gap.
At Andfit the goal is to create a program inclusive of all load and rep ranges. For this reason we include hypertrophy training in our classes along with strength and conditioning training.
Next time you’re around, come and try us out!