Stage of Volume I / II: Muscle hypertrophy

Discover the determinants of muscle hypertrophy, and how to increase muscle mass.

Our collaborator Nutrisport tells us in this article how to correctly train the muscle hypertrophy

Facing a volume phase is crucial to achieve a development of muscle mass. Knowing your body will help you to progress towards your goals. Discover the determinants of muscle hypertrophy, and how to increase muscle mass.

Muscle damage, muscle protein synthesis (MPS) and muscle hypertrophy.

The muscle damage caused after strength training is defined by a series of parameters such as the appearance of DOMS, high levels of biomarkers in the blood that indicate that there has been stress, perception of muscle pain, etc.

Furthermore, After a strength exercise, the Myofibrillar Protein Synthesis (MPS) is stimulated. This increase in initial muscle protein synthesis will activate the processes of regeneration and repair of muscle mass caused by muscle damage. But nevertheless, this initial increase of muscle protein synthesis It will not cause a muscle hypertrophy.

Muscle damage is greatest in the first weeks of strength training. However, past 10 weeks, the muscle damage will have greatly diminished.

When the muscle damage has been attenuated or minimized, the muscle protein synthesis Yes, it will cause muscle hypertrophy in the long run. These authors [Felipe Damas et al. 2018] conclude that muscle damage is not the only process by which we will maximize hypertrophy. The exercise of force activates other mechanisms that can intervene in muscle hypertrophy.

Past muscle hypertrophy 1-3 weeks of strength training: What really happens?

To know if there has been muscle hypertrophy, we must be clear about how we measure muscle hypertrophy. Hypertrophy of muscle tissue can be contrasted through the muscle sectional area or Cross-Sectional Area (CSA). That is, the area occupied by the muscle fiber. However, other methods will allow us to determine in a more or less indirect way if there has been an increase in muscle mass.

We understand as muscular hypertrophy the disposition of a greater number of proteins with contractile and structural capacity, which add sarcomeres parallel to the muscle fibers.

We have all noticed that feeling of muscle hypertrophy or swelling passed between 1 and 3 weeks of workouts. But has there really been a hypertrophy of real muscle mass? Very likely not. After performing a physical exercise at a certain intensity during 1-3 weeks, we may notice a sensation of muscle swelling caused by muscle damage, and not a real muscle hypertrophy.

Rhythms of muscle mass gain per month:

There is a limit according to the genetics of individuals that prevents us from gaining muscle mass at a higher rate or in a greater total amount. Although the rhythm of gain of muscle mass can fluctuate between individuals, the following values ​​are established according to the time taken by individuals training:

Beginner: 1 -1.5% Total Body Weight per month

Intermediate: 0.5 - 1% Total Body Weight per month.

Advanced: 0.25 - 0.5% Total Body Weight per month.

How many training sessions are necessary for muscle hypertrophy to take place?

The scientific evidence so far indicates that after 8-12 training sessions adapted one observes a modest hypertrophy (3-4%) of muscle mass. After 18 sessions of adequate training of a certain muscle group we would notice a significant hypertrophy (7-10%).

Is muscle damage necessary to prepare the muscle for future hypertrophy?

Since the effect of the exercise of force and explosivity causes changes in the synthesis of muscle protein (MPS). These changes are considered a determining factor for the synthesis of protein to be greater than the degradation of muscle protein. But do we need muscle damage for future hypertrophy of muscle mass to occur? The results of the studies are very diverse!

These authors [See bibliography] discuss whether muscle damage is a necessary condition to prepare the muscle for a change in the muscular structure, and that this results in muscle hypertrophy. It has been observed that in some cases in which the muscular damage was severe, the recovery of the muscular mass was hindered. As a consequence, the recovery of the musculature was impaired, making it difficult to adapt to a load of physical exercise.

At this point, the phrase "no pain no gain" would lose credibility. It has been observed that severe muscle damage (accompanied by DOMS, together with other altered parameters) is not a single determining factor for muscle hypertrophy to take place. Other authors [see bibliography] indicate that muscle hypertrophy can occur without the prior appearance of muscle damage.

With what do I stay?

The sensation of muscular swelling after 1-3 weeks of workouts is mainly attributed to muscular edema.

After the first training sessions at the muscle level, processes are started to repair and reshape damaged muscle tissue, and not to induce muscle hypertrophy.

After a few 18 sessions of proper training we will have a significant real hypertrophy. The muscular swelling induced by an edema will be practically null if there has been a correct adaptation to the training load.

Muscular hypertrophy is not only triggered by muscle damage after physical exercise. Other aspects such as the synthesis of myofibrillar protein and other processes responsible for remodeling the muscle structure, will be key to future hypertrophy.

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Ramirez Torres M. The fat mass index, not the fat mass index, is associated with impaired physical performance in older adults subjects: Evidence from a cross-sectional study. Clinical Nutrition (2018).

Felipe Damas, Cleiton A. Libardi, Carlos Ugrinowitsch. The development of skeletal muscle hypertrophy through resistance training: the role of muscle damage and muscle protein synthesis. European Journal of Applied Physiology. (2018).

Juha Hulmi et al. Effect of protein / essential amino acids and resistance training on skeletal muscle hypertrophy: A case for Whey Protein. Nutrition and Metabolism (2010).

Michael J. Joyner. Skeletal Muscle Hypertrophy. American College of Sports Nutrition. (2004)

Jones EJ et al. Cross-sectional area and muscular strength: a brief review. Sprots Medicine (2008). Vol. 38 (12): 987-94.

Franchi MV et al. Muscle thickness correlates to muscle cross-sectional area in the assessment of strength training-induced hypertrophy. (2018) Vol. 28 (3): 846-853. See

Ladies F. et al. Early resistance training-induced increases in muscle cross-sectional area are concomitant with edema-induced muscle swelling. European Journal of Applied Physiology. (2016) Vol. 116 (1): 49-56. See

Farshidfar F., Pinder MAm Myrie SB Creatine Supplementation and Skeletal Muscle metabolism for building muscle mass: Review of the potential mechanism of action. Current Protein Peptide Science (2017) Vol 18 (12): 1273-1287.

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