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5 Steps To Maximize Muscle Hypertrophy

5 Steps To Maximize Muscle Hypertrophy

There are many methods in which muscle growth occurs, however there are three main factors that promote maximum muscular hypertrophy (growth): muscle damage, mechanical tension, and metabolic stress. It is important to focus on all three of these factors since they have an additive effect on enhancing muscle growth.

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Muscular damage promotes hypertrophy because it is associated with structural changes to the muscles and also influences gene expression. The change in gene expression enhances protein synthesis to repair and strengthen the muscle tissue. This compensation technique adapted by the body decreases the likelihood of muscle damage occurring, which in turn causes the muscle to increase in size.

Mechanical tension causes disturbance in the integrity of muscles, which transduces molecular and chemical responses to maximize muscle growth and at the same time prevent muscle wasting.

Finally metabolic stress enhances muscular hypertrophy because the acidic environment created in muscles, leads to increased fiber degradation, increased sympathetic nerve activity, and the release of chemicals, all of which enhance muscle growth.

So read further on techniques and changes that can be made in your workout routine to maximize muscle hypertrophy.

1. Inducing Hypoxia
A research study done by Nishimura et al. demonstrated that the amount of oxygen in an environment significantly effects muscle hypertrophy. More specifically individuals who were put into a hypoxic environment (lack of oxygen), showed significantly greater muscle hypertrophy after 6 weeks compared to subjects in the normal oxygen environment. Along side with enhanced muscle hypertrophy those exposed to a hypoxic environment also showed greater muscle strength after 3 weeks.

There are many potential theories as to why maximum muscle hypertrophy occurs with lack of oxygen. One reason is that the lack of oxygen causes lactic acid to build up in the muscles, which creates metabolic stress and this enhances protein synthesis and the release of growth triggering hormones. Another explanation is that the lack of oxygen promotes muscle damage, and as mentioned above this enhances muscle hypertrophy. One way to induce hypoxia while working out is to slow down breathing or hold your breath while doing sets.

It is important to note that you should not adapt this technique if you become faint quickly and have certain oxygen deficiencies to begin with.


2. Timing of protein consumption  
The time one ingests protein after a workout also has an effect on enhancing muscle hypertrophy. More specifically several studies have shown that in-taking protein immediately after a workout enhances muscle hypertrophy in comparison to when protein was taken one hour after a workout. The reason for this is your muscles are able to immediately and more effectively utilize the amino acids in protein for maximum muscle recovery, which in turn optimizes muscle hypertrophy.

Studies have also shown that co-ingesting carbohydrates and protein will further enhance muscle hypertrophy, in comparison to taking these nutrients separately.

The reason for this is carbohydrate ingestion increase insulin and insulin has been shown to promote protein synthesis by amplifying the effects of leucine, the amino acid associated with muscle hypertrophy.


3.Rest time between sets
Although most individuals training know that it is important to give muscles approximately 24- 48 hours to recover, depending on the muscle, research shows that rest time between sets also effects muscle growth.

More specifically moderate rest intervals (60-90 seconds) between sets enhance muscle hypertrophy compared to short (30 seconds) and long (2 + minutes) resting times.

When limiting rest to 30 seconds, although metabolic stress occurs (which heightens anabolic action), strength capacity is compromised. On the flip side long rest intervals (two minutes of longer) enhances strength capacity, allowing one to train with maximum force, but compromises metabolic stress, which attenuates muscle hypertrophy.  Also moderate rest intervals induce hypoxia, which as mentioned above also promote maximum muscle hypertrophy. Therefore keep resting time between intervals to 60-90 seconds to maximize muscle growth.


4.Effect of high volume workouts
Another factor that enhances muscular hypertrophy is adapting a high volume exercise routine. Exercise volume is defined as the product between sets, repetitions, and load; therefore increasing any of these factors increases exercise volume.

Several studies have shown that high volume workouts produce maximum muscle hypertrophy, since these workouts produce greater muscle tension, muscle damage, metabolic stress and enhance testosterone levels.  A study done by Schwab and colleagues had some very interesting results that testosterone levels only significantly increased after completing the fourth set of squats. This study and several other studies exemplify the benefit that adapting a multiple set routine has on muscle hypertrophy. Another way to maximize muscle hypertrophy is to increase the load (i.e. amount of weight lifted), since this enhances muscle tension and in turn muscular hypertrophy.

It is important to note that to reap the benefits of a high volume exercise routine it must be done slowly and periodically. More specifically although there are short-term benefits of increasing exercise volume, the body quickly reaches a plateau and there is a rebound effect on muscle hypertrophy. This is because there is so much muscular trauma, that there is a decrease in anabolic drive and an increase in catabolic activity (muscle wasting). Overall one should adapt a routine that has slow advancements in repetitions, sets, load, and efficient number of rest days for maximum muscle hypertrophy.


5. Repetition speed
Another change which can be made to enhance muscle hypertrophy is the speed by which muscles are contracted and relaxed. When flexing (i.e. shortening the muscle) one should be quick and when extending (i.e. lengthening the muscle) the movement should be slow. When comparing flexing and extending, several studies have shown that it is the slow eccentric movements (extending) that has a significant impact on muscle hypertrophy. This is because eccentric movements produces a dramatic rise in muscular tension and damage, and as mentioned above these are two essential factors for muscle hypertrophy. Overall it is important to note that one must slowly release the tension for maximum muscle growth when working out.

These are just some strategies and changes, which can be made to maximize muscle hypertrophy, however it is important to note that a well balanced diet and adequate rest are essential for optimal muscle regeneration and growth. If one adapts these strategies and does not compensate with a nutritious meal and rest then muscular atrophy (wasting) can occur.


Written by: Noreen

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