Best Exercises for Hypertrophy

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Best Exercises For Hypertrophy

Hypertrophy can essentially happen through two different means. There is myofibrillar hypertrophy which is an increase in muscular fibrils, which are filaments that essentially make up a muscle fiber. So if for years and years on end an athlete does 10x2 back squats and is increasing strength, the muscle will become much denser and increase in size. The second is sarcoplasmic hypertrophy. It does exist. It is the concept when there is a growth in the sarcoplasm inside the cellular wall that leads to other metabolic components that increase in size and can contribute to the increase in the size of muscle fiber.


Both myofibrillar hypertrophy and sarcoplasmic hypertrophy increase the size of a muscle. Long term, the increase in contractile size will also help benefit from an increase in strength. Hypertrophy is good for athletes and sports performance because if we increase the muscle mass it will lead to higher contractile force which will make us stronger and capable of putting out more power.


Another key concept is that if we bodybuild and do higher reps, we will have a more stable joint by increasing our structural integrity. If we are lagging in certain areas, we can use concepts of pre-fatigue to achieve more hypertrophy which will increase the strength of the lagging areas.

Lacking Hypertrophy 

The first way to understand if an athlete lacks hypertrophy is to notice an athlete with small arms or small legs relative to peers. Think of an athlete who has a limb put in a cast and immobilized. When the limb is taken out of the cast, the limb is much smaller from being stagnant and able to be stimulated while in the immobile cast. The muscle diminishes in size and lacks hypertrophy. Simply looking at the size of limbs, or understanding that the athlete is typically weaker, they likely lack hypertrophy.

1. Back Squat

The best exercise for hypertrophy is the back squat. By training low bar and high bar together huge muscular gains can be achieved. Think about Olympic weightlifters. They have huge quads and huge glutes from all the myofibrillar hypertrophy they achieve from their training. They do a lot of squatting. They do sets of 2 reps up to 7 reps. Most of their sets are in the neighborhood of six, seven, or eight. Over a year, it leads to myofibrillar hypertrophy and a massive increase in strength.


If we want to focus purely on hypertrophic gains, on the back end of the weak, we can go a little bit more narrow with the back squat and hit a few sets for 12 to 17 reps to lead to some serious hypertrophic gains.

2. Dumbbell Incline Bench With A Slow Eccentric

I like to train this movement twice a week. I like to do a heavier weight for a five-rep ramp throughout seven sets. I’ll push the five rep max over sets four, five, and six and then go for a drop set. The real important part of the movement is to have complete control during that slow eccentric. We want to have a solid five-second count. 

hypertrophy vs strength

I like to train this movement twice a week. I like to do a heavier weight for a five-rep ramp throughout seven sets. I’ll push the five rep max over sets four, five, and six and then go for a drop set. The real important part of the movement is to have complete control during that slow eccentric. We want to have a solid five-second count. 

3. Leg Press

Longer-limbed athletes struggle to gain hypertrophy in their quads. I know this from personal experience. One of the few movements that will blow up the quads and get them to increase in size and mass which can then be used to carry over to acceleration is the leg press. 

If I want to push the leg press for myofibrillar hypertrophy, I recommend doing unilateral presses or going heavy for three sets of four reps before doing heavier back squats to be used as a warm-up. On the hypertrophy day, I recommend using the leg press for four sets of thirty to thirty-five reps and then going to do some drop sets with the low bar or high bar back squat.


Sprint cyclists benefit tremendously from doing leg presses. The movement isn’t terrible in any way. It stimulates growth. Don’t have access to a leg press? Use a sled, which will probably carry over more to the sports world but will not achieve the same level of hypertrophy the leg press will achieve.

4. T-Bar Rows

Achieving myofibrillar hypertrophy we want to load the bar up like crazy. We can do six sets of six reps or seven sets of five reps earlier in the week. Now if we are trying to blow up our body weight and increase muscle mass to go up a weight class, we can do four or five sets of twenty to twenty-five reps as we target the slow-twitch muscle groups in the back like the lats. 

Recap

Do all four of these exercises. Do one day that targets more myofibrillar hypertrophy with seven triples or five sets of five. On another day during the week do four or five sets of thirty plus reps to get that sarcoplasmic hypertrophy. Build that mass and get swole AF.  

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Yo, It's Dane

Welcome to the Garage Strength Blog, where it is my goal to provide you with the experience and knowledge I've gained in the strength and conditioning world over many years of learning from both successes and failures. I train elite-level athletes in a multitude of sports from the high school to professional levels, already producing 5 Olympics and 30+ National Champions. If you want to be the next champion I train, check out my strength programs below!

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