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Hypertrophy Vs. Strength Training: Everything You Need to Know


Hypertrophy Vs. Strength Training: Everything You Need to Know
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Resistance training has two distinct training modules: hypertrophy training and strength training. Since we frequently use these terms interchangeably, their definitions are hazy and unclear to most of us.

“Hypertrophy” and “Strength Training” refer to different paths with unique goals and objectives. Simply put, hypertrophy refers to a muscle's size, whereas strength training refers to a muscle's power.

You should know the differences between hypertrophy and strength training because it will affect the exercises and routines you do in the gym.

This article will review the differences between the two training types and help you decide which is the best for you.

What is Hypertrophy?

The physiological process that occurs when resistance exercise leads to an increase in the size of muscle fibers, typically in diameter, is referred to as hypertrophy.

The most common muscle growth forms are sarcoplasmic and myofibril hypertrophy, respectively.

Sarcoplasmic Hypertrophy — When most individuals talk about hypertrophy training, they refer to something called sarcoplasmic hypertrophy. It refers to the actual growth in the size of the muscle.

Myofibril Hypertrophy is the process by which a muscle thickens and becomes more compact and dense.

Because both forms of hypertrophy almost always occur concurrently, making the distinction between them is somewhat academic from a medical standpoint and isn’t very important for hypertrophy training.

What is Strength?

The capacity to generate the greatest possible force through the contraction of a muscle is referred to as strength.

Heavy lifting and working out to one's absolute limit are common ways to demonstrate strength.

The capacity to generate maximal levels of force is determined by a few important aspects, such as the central nervous system, the rate of force production, and the level of brain fatigue.

Hypertrophy Vs. Strength Training

Hypertrophy training stimulates muscular tissue's hypertrophy, increasing muscle size overall. In contrast, strength training seeks to enhance the muscles' capacity to perform functional movements.

Training for hypertrophy necessitates a greater training volume, more frequent sessions, and shorter rest times between sets. The routines consist of a greater number of sets and reps with a lesser amount of resistance.

The strength training intensity is much higher, although it typically involves a smaller training volume (fewer training days and longer rest periods). The objective is to perform fewer repetitions and sets while lifting greater weights.

Even the requirements for nutrition and diet change significantly between the two regimens.

In hypertrophy training, it is essential to follow a well-balanced nutrition program that maintains a low level of body fat while also providing sufficient protein for muscle gain.

Nutrition plays a role in the rehabilitation and rebuilding of muscles when strength exercise is included.

Benefits of Hypertrophy Training

Some advantages of hypertrophy training are listed below. It's important to remember that many of these advantages may also be observed with strength training, particularly in novice weightlifters.

Helps Build More Muscle

Both hypertrophy and strength training is effective in increasing muscle mass. Still, hypertrophy-based training is generally superior since it allows for greater muscle size and development improvements.

Training volume is one of the most important and effective factors for muscle development, and hypertrophy training enables lifters to exercise in bigger volumes for longer periods.

Less Risk of Injury

There is a certain danger of injury while weight training since it involves lifting weights.

However, hypertrophy training is frequently safer because of the lesser weight and reduced risk of injury when training near failure.

Increased Energy Expenditure

If you want to use more energy, just crank up your productivity. Simply said, the more effort you put in while training (your training volume), the more calories you will burn.

Lifters who want to bulk up and burn plenty of calories may choose hypertrophy training, characterized by greater sets, reps, and total volume.

This is not to argue that more intense strength-based regimens don't help you burn fat; they do. Lighter to moderate weights and more repetitions translate to greater effort (training volume), which might increase energy consumption.

Improves Muscular Symmetry

Hypertrophy training frees you from worrying about transferring weight from one location to another, allowing you to concentrate instead on developing muscle activation, overcoming weakness, and resolving imbalances in your movement patterning.

When exercising with bigger weights, it might be challenging to focus on how the muscle feels or how to slow down the moment since the weight is so close to crushing you that you won't have time to think about it.

While you engage in hypertrophy training, you increase your muscle awareness, development, and symmetry, making you stronger and less prone to injury when lifting bigger weights.

Drawbacks of Hypertrophy Training

A few of the possible downsides of hypertrophy training are listed here. It's important to remember that beginners have greater leeway because they may frequently enhance their strength while building muscle and that their absolute loading is typically smaller than that of a more established lifter.

May Not Build Strength

Although sarcoplasmic hypertrophy is a common mechanism for increasing muscle size, studies demonstrate that this does not automatically translate into enhanced functional strength or force production.

This is particularly true for more experienced lifters, and most athletes will train for hypertrophy the farthest they can from a strength competition.

Lifters may get the most out of hypertrophy and strength training by following a program that gradually transitions between the two.

Could Result in Overuse Injuries

When trying to gain muscle mass with hypertrophy training, it's easy to push yourself over your recuperation limits.

Getting extra rest and fuel and using a training program that can monitor your progress and make adjustments as necessary may help, but it's still important to be aware of.

Hypertrophy Training Exercises

Workout routines geared toward gaining muscle mass often include machine-based activities, free weights, and body-based routines. Among the many hypertrophy-inducing workouts are

Hypertrophy exercise includes progressive overloading, which is important for maximum muscle fiber activation and growth gains. Start with 65% to 80% to 85% of your 1 RM, 6-12 reps each set, and 1-3+ sets per exercise if you're a novice or intermediate athlete. Between each set, you should take a break of 30 seconds to 1 minute and 30 seconds.

Aim for 67% to 85% of 1 RM, 6-12 reps each set, and at least three sets per exercise for advanced training. Between each set, you should take a break of 30 seconds to 1 minute and 30 seconds.

Benefits of Strength Training

Here are some of the advantages of strength training. Some novices may experience these advantages with hypertrophy programs, but advanced lifters or lifters who have not done a thorough strength training program will find that a more strength-specialized training program delivers them.

Increases Neural Drive

Training your muscles to contract with more force by enhancing the transmission of nerve impulses from the brain to the muscle fibers increases overall neural drive.

The speed with which a muscle fiber contracts (its ability to generate force) and the number of muscle fibers that contract simultaneously may be increased by electrical impulses.

You'll be able to carry bigger loads more quickly and easily thanks to both considerations.

Build Strength More By Training Less

If you look at strength training compared to hypertrophy training there is one main difference; volume. The amount of reps you do for strength training is greatly reduced but the weight used is dramatically increased. The inverse is true for hypertrophy. So technically you don't spend as much time underload doing strength training in order to achieve the desired strength adaptation.

Drawbacks of Strength Training

The following are some possible and probable downsides of strength training, particularly when performed in excessive quantities, with inadequate recuperation, inefficient form, or without deloading.

Lead to Early Neural Fatigue

Neural fatigue is common in high-intensity (loading) strength regimens, but it may occur when training is more taxing than recovery allows.

There are no hard and fast rules about how much is too much when it comes to training volume or intensity because everyone recovers at a different rate. However, overtraining is common among weightlifters who train with excessively heavy loads for extended periods or with excessive repetitions.

Heavy lifting puts a greater strain on the neurological system, making it more susceptible to exhaustion at higher intensities or volumes.

A few days off exercising won't be enough if you've overworked your nervous system; it might take weeks to get back to normal. More experienced lifters, especially lifters with significant extra-gym stresses, are more likely to have severe neural exhaustion.

May Increase Risk of Injury

Injuries are possible while lifting heavy weights and exercising intensely, regardless of the training method (hypertrophy vs. strength).

However, since the loading in strength training programs is greater than that utilized in hydropathy programs, poor recovery, excessive stress, and high-frequency strength training might raise the chances of injury and overuse.

Strength Training Exercises

Compound movements are the main focus of most strength training programs (where hypertrophy training emphasizes using compound and isolation lifts). The following are some examples of strength-training activities:

In regards to strength training, the recommendations for progressive overload vary somewhat.

Training with weights equal to 70% to 80% of 1 RM, with at least six reps per set for sets of 1-3+, is recommended by specialists for novice to intermediate athletes. Sets should be separated by two to five minutes of rest.

Maximizing muscle strength requires advanced training at 85% of 1 repetition maximum for at least three sets. Every set consists of at least 6 repetitions, and the rest periods are between 2 and 5 minutes long.

Which Method is Right for You?

Despite their obvious differences, there is no clear superiority of one training method over another. Many athletes use both methods intermittently throughout the year because their objectives shift. Here are some considerations to make when determining whether to focus on strength training or muscular development:


If you plan to participate in athletic events, consider concentrating your strength training on a certain exercise. For instance, soccer players could benefit from participating in a weightlifting program that focuses on helping them improve their lower-body strength.

But if your sport is more aesthetic-focused, then hypertrophy training will be the best choice for you.


Suppose you want to concentrate on becoming larger in a certain location, such as your shoulders or chest. In that case, consider constructing a lifting plan that helps you build skeletal muscle mass in these places via hypertrophy. This will help you achieve your goal of getting bigger in that area.

Training Level

If you are just beginning to lift weights, it is recommended that you concentrate your efforts first on compound strength training exercises. Compound exercises, which include using many muscles at once, are likely to provide you with the greatest initial return on investment when you are just starting in the world of weightlifting.

This is true regardless of the kind of lifts that beginners do. When you have more experience, you always have the option to change your training aim to one that is more focused on gaining muscle mass.

And remember, no hard and fast rule says you have to choose just one. It's often muddled up. You can do restricted range-of-motion workouts that target a certain muscle group on designated days, and compound exercises, such as squats, deadlifts, and pull-ups, are used on other training days to work for many muscle groups simultaneously.

Nonetheless, you should choose a primary training style to direct your efforts toward.


1. What type of equipment do I need for each type of training?

When training for hypertrophy, you can use any type of equipment, but some that are more commonly used are machines and dumbbells.

For strength training, you can use any type of equipment, but some that are more commonly used are barbells and dumbbells.

2. How many sets and reps should I do for each type of training?

You should aim to complete 2 to 4 sets of 8 to 12 repetitions when training for muscle hypertrophy. You should aim to complete 3 to 5+ sets of 1 to 5 repetitions for your strength training.

3. How often should I train for each type of goal?

You can exercise anywhere from three to five times per week to achieve hypertrophy. To build strength, you should prioritize the quality of your workouts over the quantity, and you should only need one to three carefully planned sessions per week.

4. What's the difference between Hypertrophy and Strength Training?

Muscle growth is known scientifically as hypertrophy, and any exercise aimed specifically at fostering muscle growth is considered hypertrophy training. Hypertrophy training differs from strength training because its goal is to increase muscle size rather than the maximum weight that can be lifted.

This can be accomplished in two ways: performing more reps or lifting heavier weights. People who want to bulk up their muscles use hypertrophy training, which is also popular among other athletes.

Take Away

The development of muscular strength and hypertrophy requires the use of resistance exercises. Both will grow in response to resistance training, but you can prioritize one or the other by taking certain measures. Changing the intensity, the number of repetitions, the length of rest between sets, and the variety of exercises are all essential components of achieving this goal.

Generally speaking, increasing the weight you lift, decreasing the number of repetitions you perform, and performing fewer sets with full rest in between each will help you gain more strength. On the other hand, hypertrophy training entails performing fewer sets of fewer reps with a moderate weight. Decide which option is best for you, and start achieving your goals today.

Reading List

Article Sources

  • Figueiredo, V. C., de Salles, B. F., & Trajano, G. S. (2018). Volume for muscle hypertrophy and health outcomes: The most effective variable in resistance training. Sports Medicine, 48(3), 499–505.
  • Di, N. J. J., Pritschet, B. L., Emmett, J. D., Owen, J. D., Willardson, J. M., Beck, T. W., DeFreitas, J. M., & Fontana, F. E. (2012). Comparing thigh muscle cross-sectional area and squat strength among national class Olympic weightlifters, power lifters, and bodybuilders. International SportMed Journal, 13(2), 48–57.
  • Suchomel, T. J., Nimphius, S., Bellon, C. R., & Stone, M. H. (2018). The importance of muscular strength: Training considerations. Sports Medicine, 48(4), 765–785.
  • Grgic, J., Lazinica, B., Mikulic, P., Krieger, J. W., & Schoenfeld, B. J. (2017). The effects of short versus long inter-set rest intervals in resistance training on measures of muscle hypertrophy: A systematic review. European Journal of Sport Science, 17(8), 983–993.

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