Stimuly for Hypertrophy? What training variable?

I am interested in “indentifying” the training variable that stimulates hypertrophy. Before we start the discussion I must stress the fact that we still DONT KNOW what training variable induces hypertrophy, what type and ammount of it…

There are lot of “programs” for stimulating hypertrophy, from classic to more radical ones. For example the clasicall program is 4x10reps.

I would love to discuss the folowing issues:
a) The role of strength and ME work in increasing hypertrophy (both directly and undirecly)
b) The role of supersets
c) The training variables inducing hypertophy
d) The types of hypertrophy and how to induce them
e) The role of periodization in hypertrophy programms
f) How to avoid hypertrophy effect when designing training programs for specific athletes (gymnasts, martial artists…)

Zatsiorsky states that the combination of volume (expressed as number of reps or tonage?) and intensity (their multiplication) is the factor affecting hypertrophy. This is under “energy depletion” model.
1-5 RM Great intensity - Low volume
5-15RM Medium Intensity - Medium Volume
>15RM Low Intensity - High volume

According to this 5-15 zone should prvide biggest hypertrophy… But where (what muscle fibers? Myofibrial, Sarcoplasmatic??)

What about supersets? What about altering between those three groups to stimulate different types of motor units (poliquin principle). What about TUT and TTUT? What about training density? Is there a need to go to faliure every set? What about drop-off set and cluster training? What about pyramiding, how much, 10, 20%?

According to this approach, stimuly for hypertrophy (hypertrophy stimuly HS) is:

HS = Intensity (kg) * Volume (reps)

But what about lifting heavier weight, with less rest and less reps?

TUT = Tempo (a+b+c+d) * Reps
TTUT = TUT * Sets + (Sets-1)*Rest pause

Volume = Sets * Reps

Tonnage = Intensity (kg) * Volume (reps)

IxT = Intensity * Tonnage

Density = Tonnage / TTUT

HS = Density * Intensity (my opinion)

Is density CRUCIAL factor inducing HS? Lets see some reps schemes and variables:

1RM = 100kg

a) 4x10RM (80kg) Tempo (2020) Rest:60secs
TUT = 40sec
TTUT = 340sec
Volume = 40reps
Tonnage = 3200kg
Density = 9,41
HS = 752,9
IxT = 256000

b) 3x15RM (70kg) Tempo (2020) Rest:45sec
TUT = 60sec
TTUT = 270sec
Volume = 45reps
Tonnage = 3150kg
Density = 11,6
HS = 816,6
IxT = 22050

c) 6x3RM (90kg) Tempo (3010) Rest:40sec
TUT = 12sec
TTUT = 272sec
Volume = 18reps
Tonnage = 1620kg
Density = 5,95
HS = 536,0
IxT = 145800

d) 8x3RM (94kg) Tempo (3111) Rest:3min
TUT = 18sec
TTUT = 1404
Volume = 24reps
Tonnage = 2256kg
Density = 1,6
HS = 151,0
IxT = 212064

** Please note that the tempo will be affected as fatigue builds-up. This is only for example

So, according to DENSITY theory, it seems that 3x15 produces biggest hypertrophy stimuly…

What variable is considered HS? Density * Intensity?

What variable stimulates testosteron and GH?

Is reducing rest pause good way to induce greater density and hypertrophy effect? How much?

Is increasing rest pause and using larger buffer better way to avoid hypertrophy in those athletes that dont want it?

Is 8x3 method with short rests a good way to induce hypertrophy?

What is the threshold in variable to induce hypertrophy in different populations???

How does strength training (imprving 1RM) affects all of this?

Am I creazy? (uuups, this is not a question, it is a fact!!! :smiley: )

I would first like to say different athletes respond radically different. This would depend of many factors mostly genetic (fiber type etc.)
Diet also plays a large role as we know. This is why it would be be difficult to get accurate results in a study. In diet there are many factors.

Anyhow I like your thinking.
After reading this thread and doing some math it seems like some of your examples are unrealistic/impossible.

In Example “A” 4 x 10 @ 80 likos is 80% intensity. I am not sure that anyone would be able to complete this protcoll. This is not even to mention the very short rest. From what I have seen the max reps at 80% is anywhere from 4-7.

Example “B” Seems even more impossible. 3 x 15 @ 70 Kilos is 70% intensity. Again I am not sure many if not any athletes could do 15 reps at 70% with 45" Rest.

Same goes for the 6 x 3 example. And even though the 8x3 example has a long rest period I have never seen anyone do more than 1 set of 3 with 94% of their 1RM Unless there 1RM was no longer their 1RM.

What is HS? How is density being measured?
I understand its Amount of work done per unit of time but how is this measured?

Todays article on T-nation Chris Thibaudeau Talks about this very topic. Not that he is the end all guru in hypertrophy training but I believe what hes saying has merit.
I would try and paraphrase what he has said but it way to much so here is the link to the article on t-nation.;jsessionid=F2F120858AE1D06690FA5CC60801AA96.hydra?id=1107532

from experience i have to say that it is neurologically based more than it is structual ( ie breaking down of the bodies tissues) more specifically velocity. i know your probably like “velocity what the hell” but i believe now that velocity is the key to everything and ive been training using high velocity and in 3 weeks i gained 15 lbs. i cant explain it dont ask me to but all i know is that everytime i stood on the scale my weight went up.
p.s. “stimuli”

The answer is that there is no one answer!
Since the most critical consideration overall is to train to the optimal degree without overtraining, the type of lifting that will maximize hypertrophy will vary according to the other demands of the particular athlete’s event and will occur in a specific “window” in the year/training phase and will not continue outside of it, even if the lifting pattern that worked is continued.


Thats why i stopped running for a while Just so i could grow some muscle. Running and muscle growing for me = mighty slow results.

Thanks for replies guys!

Quik, yes you are right regarding error in the workouts I have put… but keep in mind that they are only for example… I have taken a look at analysis of my training for one faculty seminar and I did 70% for 8 reps in one set… So you are right.

Anyway, does mathematics have anything to do with a training? Is training “reaction” and “stimuli” measurable and can it be expressed as a number?

Density is Work done (set * reps * weight) / Time to finish a given exercise/workout.

Density is very simmilar to power (energy/time) but it is not power…

HS is Hypertrophy stimuli, or training variable that causes hypertrophy… I used HS = Density * Intensity, but this is highly questionable!

Very, very, very interesting!!! Again, this stressess the need to look “globaly” at training not just its components! Great Charlie, Thanks!
Basicaly, if 4x10RM as isolated workout produce hypertrophy for a given athlete, when put in a training system among other components, it “window” may be closed and it may not produce hypertrophy effect for a given athlete… Now, things are a lot complex… This is why training is an art more than it is a science…

I just read CT’s article on T-nation… It cleared a lot of dillemas in my head… and it actuall stimulated me to write the following program

I used CT’s and Poliquin stuff to create following hypertrophy program!

The basic principles of this program is the following:

  • Use undulating periodization (wk1:20, wk2:10, wk3:15, wk4:5) to stimulate various muscle fibers with different rep-schemes, prevent overtraining and boredom and facilitate hypertrophy

  • Improve maximal strength. The reason for this is maximal strength has (a)direct transfer to hypertrophy of FT fibers, (b)indirect %u2013 thus increasing max strength will allow you to lift submax weight more reps, © potentiating effect, or allows you to lift subsequent submax lift in more reps due post-tetanic facilitation

  • Use 2-3sessions per week per given muscle group (high frequency training)

  • Use Upper/Lower split

  • Alternate between antagonists to allow greater rest

  • Sometimes use single leg-single arm work becasue of “bilateral deficit” and thus greater muscle stimulation and also this will allow you increase in max strenght

  • Pay attention to “injury prevention work” like rotator cuff work. This will allow you to stay injury free and it will improve your maximal strength

  • Change exercises every subsequent cycle

  • Use supersets for small muscles after compund one to improve training density

  • Use slow eccentric and fast eccentric contraction

  • Use tempo contrasts, isometric pauses, drop off sets “sometimes” to allow variety and thus greater stimuly

  • Alternate between Upper/Lower sessions, but sometimes try two in a row to allow “shock”. Use more rest later

The example workout is the following

Session A (upper body)

A1. Bench Press 4xN Triceps Pull down 4xN*(1,5-2,0)
A2. Seated Rows 4xN Biceps Curls 4xN*(1,5-2,0)

B1. Military Press 4xN DB Triceps KickBacks Alternate 4xN*(1,5-2,0)
B2. Pull Ups/Downs 4xN DB Alternate Biceps Curls 4xN*(1,5-2,0)

C1. Shoulder Circle (YTWL)
C2. Rotator Cuff work
C3. Grip/Wrist work

Session B (lower body)

A1. Front Squat 4xN Leg extention Alternating 4xN*(1,5-2,0)
A2. RDL 4xN Leg Curls Alternating 4xN*(1,5-2,0)

B1. Sumo DL 4xN Toe Raises
B2. Bulgarians 4xN DB Dorsiflexion

C1. Abs work
C2. Hip circle (easy walking lunge, side lunge etc)

*** N represent a given reps for a given week
**** N * 1,5-1,2 means using larger number of reps in second superset exercises than in first

*** No rest between exercises, some rest (depending on rep shceme) between 1 & 2 exercises

*** longer rest 3-5min between A & B exercises

Week structure:

Mon: Upper
Tue: Lower
Thu: Upper (swap A&B exercises)
Fri: Lower (swap A&B exercises)

Mon: Lower
Tue: Upper
Thu: Lower (swap A&B exercises)
Fri: Upper (swap A&B exercises)

Mon: Lower
Tue: Lower (swap A&B exercises)
Thu: Upper
Fri: Upper (swap A&B exercises)


Duxx: What else is being done during this program? What type and level of athlete? How many training years?

Yes I forgot to say… It is for classical mediocre bbuilder! So, this is only done…
I don’t believe it has purpose in sports training (supersets etc)