Hypertrophy vs. Strength Training: Key Differences Explained
While both hypertrophy and strength training involve performing many of the same exercises with the same equipment, the goals of each are completely different.
In this article, we will discuss what strength training and hypertrophy training is as well as break down the key differences between the two.
What Is Strength Training?
Strength training is designed to increase your strength or the amount of force your muscle can exert. Strength training focuses on improving your abilities to push, pull, lift, squat, and jump, whereas hypertrophy focuses on adding muscle mass. Individuals who focus on strength training focus primarily on one or two specific types of lifts, such as deadlifts or bench presses.
In order to build muscle strength, you must perform exercises that cause a breakdown in your body temporarily so that more muscle fibers can be added to the damaged area during the rest period. Individuals focused on strength training often create a program of compound lifts. Compound exercises often incorporate barbells and dumbbells as well as exercises such as:
- Bench presses
- Military presses
Many of these compound lifts will help promote bigger muscles as well as smaller tendons and ligaments because these lifts utilize more than just one muscle. For example, the bench press is a staple for strength training because it uses almost every upper body muscle, including your chest, triceps, biceps, and forearms.
Strength training is a distinct form of hypertrophy training because of the programming format. With strength training, you typically lift heavy weights with a lower training volume. In essence, this means you will perform smaller number sets but lift at a higher intensity.
Strength training is popular amongst many athletes as it helps their sports-related performance. Compared to traditional strength training with barbells and dumbbells, the Speede Challenger allows athletes to train for shorter amounts of time while still improving their athletic performance.
What Is Hypertrophy Training?
Hypertrophy, also known as muscle hypertrophy, means the enlargement of an organ or tissue. Hypertrophy is often used in the fitness world to increase muscle size. It simply means training with the sole purpose of creating a larger muscle.
While strength training improves the efficiency of the neuromuscular system, hypertrophy training aims to change the structural change in the muscle to make it bigger.
Hypertrophy training is popular among bodybuilders.
What Types of Hypertrophy Training Are There?
There are two main types of muscle hypertrophy:
- Myofibrillar: Myofibrillar hypertrophy is the growth of muscle through contractions. During myofibrillar hypertrophy, the body will respond to muscle injuries by increasing the volume and density of the myofibrils. This type of training helps with speed and strength.
- Sarcoplasmic: Sarcoplasmic hypertrophy refers to the growth of sarcoplasmic fluids around the myofibrils. Increases in the amount of fluid in the muscle can make the muscles look bigger; however, these muscle gains do not equal an increase in strength.
What Are Some Variables To Increase Hypertrophy?
There are three training variables to help increase hypertrophy:
- Total Volume: This is the main focus of hypertrophy. Total volume occurs when you calculate the total amount of weight you lift by the number of sets and reps. In order to see results, you must increase your overall volume as you continue to train.
- Mechanical Tension: This refers to your muscles actively contracting. The longer your muscle remains tense, the more growth you can achieve. This is why many individuals who perform hypertrophy training choose to do tempo reps.
- Metabolic Stress: Metabolic stress occurs as a result of the accumulation of metabolites and cells swelling in the muscles during exercise. Some individuals achieve metabolic stress by wearing an occlusion cuff or tourniquet on their arms or legs while lifting. This is often referred to as blood flow restriction training.
How Do Strength Training and Hypertrophy Training Differ?
Many people think of strength and hypertrophy training as one and the same. While these two training styles do share certain similarities, they are very different.
The similarity between these two types of training boils down to their shared focus on resistance training programs. These training programs work the muscles by placing them under tension. This causes small tears in the muscles, which are then repaired and built back up.
This process of breaking down muscles and building them back up is a primary goal for both hypertrophy training and strength training, and it’s called progressive overload.
Now that we know how they are the same, let’s focus on how these two training techniques are different.
Hypertrophy focuses on muscle aesthetics — making certain muscle groups look a specific way by increasing muscle size.
Strength training focuses more on power and muscular strength. The point of these workout programs is to move as much weight as possible to build muscle strength.
A key difference between hypertrophy training and strength training is the total amount of work volume accumulated within a training session.
Hypertrophy training is higher in training volume due to the ability to perform more sets and reps with a lighter load. Because strength training has heavier loads, you cannot perform as many sets or reps.
Different Rep Ranges
Muscular hypertrophy includes resistance training and weightlifting exercises with a higher number of repetitions (reps). That means you would do lighter weight for more reps. This type of rep range helps take the muscle to failure, which helps promote muscle growth.
Strength training aims for a lower rep range with heavier weights at a higher intensity.
Different Rest Intervals
During muscle hypertrophy, your rest time between your sets should be as long or longer than the time you spent on your reps. This is because more rest time can help individuals push to fatigue and increase muscle size.
With strength training, the rest periods between your sets will vary depending on how much work you put in.
While both forms of training differ, they are both designed to use the principle of progressive overload on the nervous system to break down muscle fibers so that they grow back bigger and stronger.
Whether you want to focus on muscle building or improve your functional fitness, performing some sort of resistance training is important for your overall health. So whichever you decide, create a routine and stay consistent to ensure your overall health and fitness goals are achieved. With the Speede Challenger, individuals can program their fitness goals and get instant feedback after each workout routine to propel them towards progress.