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Strength or Size? Hypertrophy vs. Strength Training

When it comes to working out, most people lift weights to both build their strength up and also to work on aesthetics – but these two goals actually require different training styles. To build strength and power in your lifts, you need to set your focus on lifting heavier weights, with less overall reps. To build bigger muscles you’ll want to increase your overall volume in your workouts, lower the weight and go for more reps – this is referred to as hypertrophy training.

How to Build Strength

As mentioned before, to build up your strength you need to work with higher weights, and lower reps. Start with you normal warm up sets, but when you get into your working sets you’ll want to work up to around 80% – 90% of your max, and focus on getting 3 – 5 reps per set. Take your time with these lifts – you’re moving heavy weight so you need to focus on your form to avoid injury. This type of training will help with not only helping you build your overall strength, but will also increase bone density.

Hypertrophy Training for Size

Hypertrophy means completely exhausting your muscles, and often leads to performing exercises to failure. It requires lower weights, and higher reps. This results in your muscles fatiguing, and beginning to break down. It is the constant break down and repair that allows muscles to grow in size. When you’re training for hypertrophy you’ll want your working sets to be around 60% – 70% of your max and try to hit between 12 – 15 reps per set. Often with hypertrophy training super sets are used to hit the same muscle group in two different ways to optimize the breakdown of muscle fibers.

In any good workout program, there should be a focus on both building size and strength. Without strength, you can’t lift weights enough to truly fatigue them, and without size, you limit how much weight you can move overall. You should cycle between hypertrophy training and strength training to optimize your workout program.