Muscle hypertrophy, building you up a size!

“Hypertrophy” is my favourite word. Hypertrophy is the enlargement of an organ or tissue from the increase in size of its cells.

Muscle hypertrophy is the growth and increase in size of muscle cells. We know that skeletal muscles are important to move our bodies, but did you know that they also keep us in static positions when we are not moving and contribute to nutrition and wellbeing by storing and utilizing energy sources.

From a functional perspective, the activation and movement patterns of muscle groups are the most important factors. However, there are some particular muscle group that could benefit from being a bit larger.

In the shoulder having a larger anterior deltoid muscle (the muscle at the front of your shoulder) can protect against dislocation. With shoulder problems, the first priority to ensure your rotator cuff muscles (the deep muscles of the shoulder joint) are strong and working properly.

The largest muscle in your body is the gluteus maximus, your buttock muscle. Together with gluteus medius and minimus, these muscles make up your ‘glutes’. The glutes are important in extending our hips and keeping our bodies upright, helping us stand from sitting or squatting, run and jump.

How do you grow bigger muscles? Resistance training. Yes, I’m talking about weights. There is a debate in the fitness world over what is the ultimate rep range is. It is widely agreed that for adults to improve power, they should be lifting heavy enough to be able to complete between 1-8 repetitions, 8-12 for strength and 12-20+ for endurance, 2-3 sets per exercise.

Resistance training should be included as part of your fitness regime 2-3 times per week.

In relation to muscle hypertrophy there is no clear guideline. Studies have reported that regardless of the rep range, muscle growth will occur if you achieve volitional fatigue. Volitional fatigue is the point at which you are unable to perform another repetition without assistance. So, if you feel another rep in you, then push it out, or you’re not going to grow.

After training, your body needs rest and recovery to repair and lay down new tissues. Sleep is the most important aspect of recovery. If you aren’t getting between 7 and 10 hours a night, then you are not allowing your body enough time to replenish and grow.

Other important elements of recovery include stretching, hydration and nutrition to build up and replenish energy stores. Speak to your physiotherapist about what training approach would be best for you.