When I was getting my personal training certification many a year ago, I was told what hypertrophy is: a range of repetitions between 8-12 reps. Aside from being complete nonsense, it’s also counter-productive. If we focused on one range of repetitions with the same cadence for the entire time we train, we’ll plateau, and regress.
Hypertrophy isn’t a range of reps, it’s building muscle. Therefore, whichever workouts get us maximal and sustained results, would be hypertrophy workouts and hypertrophy sets.
What really burns my bridges about this “law” of 8-12 reps for hypertrophy, is that its the same in almost every certification around. They categorize power as 4-6 reps, and muscular endurance as 15 or more reps, sending every would-be trainer out into the world with a knowledge-base equipping them to help their clients fail.
In my online coaching program, I always ask the trainees to tell me what they’ve been previously doing in the gym. Many of them having a program that their personal trainer wrote for them, give me those rep ranges for each goal. It’s disheartening. It isn’t the trainers fault, because this is what he’s been taught, but it is his fault, because he – or she – hasn’t taken the initiative to expand his or her knowledge base.
And so, hundreds and thousands of men and women hire these trainers to get them results with there hard-earned money, but fail. They look at their genetics to blame, but there bodies have been doing what they’re programmed to do all along: adapt to the demands they’re placing on them.
To experience true, and consistent hypertrophy, we need to throw the kitchen sink at your muscles. We need to expose them to every rep range and every cadence in the book. We need to strategically change how we attack them if we’re going to get maximal muscle growth.
That’s what building muscle is: a battle. We’re trying to outwork and out-whit our bodies, essentially tricking them into growing bigger and bigger. A large part of this is adding the 3 categories of reps below. Also, pay attention to the cadences for each.
Lower 4-8 reps
We can put 3 reps in this category as well. But our muscles need these heavier lifts to achieve maximal muscle growth. We don’t need to be doing them as much as some of the other ones (when done at full speed), but we definitely need heavy days and weeks – or simply a heavy set in our training.
Cadence options to increase hypertrophy: