Hypertrophy Training Principles

Bryce · March 7, 2024

Every serious trainee who wants to take control of their training needs to have a fundamental understanding of the principles regulating hypertrophy.

Bodybuilding has become an activity of precise science and research-based action. What used to be a sport that could be dominated by train-by-feel meatheads has quickly become a domain pushed forward by an army of PhDs. And these aren’t your stereotypical lab rats — they practice what they preach, utilizing their conceptual knowledge to achieve physiques that immediately lend credibility to the research.

Of course, the hard work has always been nonnegotiable. However, equally indispensable now is programming built atop a foundation of formulated and verified principles.

This doesn’t mean every lifter must graduate summa cum laude in kinesiology in order to achieve gains. The knowledge has diffused out of the lab and into the hands of the general public. What we have now are training principles that allow any lifter to auto-regulate their own training and make the smartest, most optimized choices possible. 

With any given program, understanding how to manipulate things like intensity, volume, frequency and rest can be extremely useful (as I’ve detailed in previous articles), but the “how” is very different from the “why”…

  • Why are you doing the exercises you’re doing?
  • Why are certain rep ranges better for one goal but not another?
  • Why do we try to increase load or reps achieved when performing a given movement?
  • Why do we need to change things up every so often?
  • Why does your body respond differently to the same program compared to another person?

If you want to be a zombie who blindly follows orders, you can hire a coach and follow the program without question. No problems there. But if want to truly get wtf is going on at a deeper level, then this article is for you.

To give you a quick overview of the principles we’ll be discussing, here are some basic definitions:

Specificity– Each aspect of the training program should have a high carryover to the demands of the sport

Overload– The relative intensity of training should gradually increase over time in order to stimulate improvements in fitness capabilities

Variation– Strategic alterations in training variables can be used to maintain an effective stimulus over time as adaptations takes place

Individualization– Individuals respond differently to a given training stimulus, so training variables should be tailored to their specific goals, genetics and environment

Fatigue Management– Progressive training induces the build-up of fatigue which requires planned strategies to manage 

Although we’ll discuss each principle in the context of optimizing muscle growth, they also apply to other types of resistance training and exert their influence across the spectrum of general athletic performance. This is going to be HEAVY on theory, but don’t worry — we’ll also show you how to easily apply the concepts to your training for best results.

So without further ado, let us begin… 

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