September 15, 2021
If you are looking for an intense high-volume training program that will help you build muscle mass, a hypertrophy workout plan is exactly what you need. Muscle growth is not an easy task; it takes time, persistence, and it is a long-term commitment that requires you to build better habits. But, if you want to improve your physique, it is a top priority.
In this article, we will give you the best hypertrophy workout routine that includes just enough hard training to get your muscles growing.
Ready to bulk up?
Let’s start by understanding how hypertrophy works:
Muscle hypertrophy refers to the increase and growth of the skeletal muscle mass that can be achieved through exercise, or acquired through neurologic, muscular, or genetic disorders.
When done through exercise, the muscles are pushed to their limits to cause metabolic stress and lactic acid buildup that leads to the degradation of muscle fiber. When the body repairs these damaged fibers by fusing them, the muscle size and mass are increased.
This can be achieved by training with free weights like dumbbells, barbells, or kettlebells as well as weight machines and even through calisthenics exercises (bodyweight).
Hypertrophy workout is a type of training focused on muscle building. This type of training is very common among bodybuilders and athletes. It uses weights for resistance which causes stress to the muscles, making them stronger.
In a hypertrophy workout, you increase the volume of training (doing more sets and reps) and decrease the intensity (rest more). Usually, the resting period between sets is 1 to 3 minutes if you are training for hypertrophy.
This type of training will increase your strength, power, and caloric expenditure, helping you lose weight and get bigger, bulky muscles.
Hypertrophy programs help you achieve an increase and growth of the muscles by incorporating the following:
An exercise that works for multiple muscle groups at the same time is known as a ‘compound exercise’. Squats, deadlifts, and bench presses are some examples of this type of exercise.
Hypertrophy training prioritizes compound exercises because they allow you to work all of your muscle groups more often than isolation exercises, accelerating muscle mass building.
Hypertrophy training makes emphasis on gradually increasing the weight or reps in every workout. Sets that range between 4 to 10 reps, with enough rest in between, tend to be less fatiguing and allow you to add weight more frequently.
Ideally, you should start with about 75% of your one-rep max (the maximum amount of weight you can lift in one repetition), and over time, as your strength increases, you would start increasing weight to get up to an 85% of your one-rep max.
Gradually increasing weight on each rep will fatigue your muscle fibers and make them grow.
In order to maximize muscle growth, you should be doing around 10 to 20 weekly sets per muscle group and ideally, these must be spread out over 2 to 5 workouts a week. Studies have shown that the more sets you do, the more muscle you build.
Also, in case of a muscle gain plateau, bumping your training frequency by about 20% will easily help you get back on track. Meaning, if you have been doing 10 sets per week, increase to 12 sets and you should start seeing progress again.
Now, let’s go over the best hypertrophy workout routine. Why is it the best? It will have you doing all the right mass-building exercises (tried-and-tested), used by bodybuilders for decades.
With the right amount of sets per week, this program will help promote hypertrophy without wearing you out. Let’s get to it!
This is a 5-day weekly workout routine. If it’s too much of a stretch for you, feel free to start with a shorter 4 or 3-day routine. Skip days or mix and match throughout the week as you build up to the complete program.
Here’s a breakdown of the hypertrophy workout exercises to show you exactly how to perform each of them:
Load the barbell and roll it closer to you, against your shins. Bending at the hips and knees, grab the barbell with your hands just a bit wider than shoulder-width apart. Then, as you engage your lower back, pull your torso up and bring your hips forward to come to a standing position, lifting the barbell off the floor. Keep it as close to your body as possible, then bring it back down to lie on the floor.
For a single-arm dumbbell row, stand next to a bench and place the dumbbell on the floor next to it (in front of you). Next, put your non-rowing hand and knee (same side) on the bench, keeping your standing foot firmly planted on the ground. You must keep your back completely flat as you reach down to grab the dumbbell with your free hand. Bring the dumbbell up to your side, nearly touching your hip. With control, lower the dumbbell back down to the floor.
Sit on the pad, placing your feet on the footplate and maintaining your knees slightly bent. Lean forward to grab the handle, then lean forward to grab the handle. Lean back with your arms stretched out in front of you and keep your back straight. Bend the elbows and start to pull the cable toward your stomach. With control, come back to the starting position.
Adjust the pad on the lat pull-down machine so it rests comfortably on your thighs. Then, stand up and grab the bar with a wide grip and your arms straight. Sit down and allow your body to pull the weight of the bar down with you. Pull the bar down to touch your upper chest, keeping your torso straight and avoiding leaning back.
Stand straight with your arms to your sides, holding a dumbbell in each hand. Flex your right arm keeping your left arm down to your side, and curl up the dumbbell until it reaches the front of your right shoulder. Then lower the dumbbell to the starting position and repeat the movement with your left arm.
Holding a dumbbell in each hand, stand up straight, keeping your elbows slightly bent. Then, lift the dumbbells out to your sides until you get your upper arms parallel to the floor, and bring them back down to the starting position.
For a bent-over raise, you can be standing or seated. You need to bend at the hips to try to get your torso as close to parallel to the floor as you can. Holding a dumbbell on each hand and keeping your back straight, lift the dumbbells out to the sides until your upper arms are parallel to the floor. With control, return to the starting position.
Sit on an upright bench and hold a dumbbell in each hand resting them on your thighs. Then, lift them up so that you are holding them right above your shoulders, and push them straight up over your head. Your arms should be extended straight and elbows locked, then lower the dumbbells down to your shoulders again and repeat.
Adjust the rope grips on the cable machine to about chest level, and grab one end of the rope with each hand. Then, push the rope down by straightening your elbows until your arms are straight down at your sides. Return to the starting position with control.
Sit on a flat bench, holding a dumbbell on each hand and resting them on your thighs. Then, lie back, bringing the dumbbells up to hold them by your sides at chest height. Press them straight over our chest until your elbows are almost locked and your arms straight. Lower back down to the sides of your chest, and repeat with control.
Lie on your back on a flat bench and keep your feet flat on the floor. You should grab the bar placing your hands slightly wider than shoulder-width apart, then unrack the barbell. With control bring the barbell down to barely touch the middle of your chest, then press the bar back to starting position.
On a bench that is angled at 30 to 45 degrees, lie with your feet flat on the floor. The seat height should be adjusted so that your eyes are right under the bar when lying down. Grip the bar with your hands slightly wider than shoulder-width apart. Lower the bar to touch the middle of your chest then push the bar back up.
Sit on the machine, placing your feet a little wider than hip-width apart and halfway up the footplate. Point your toes slightly outward, push the platform away with your heels and forefoot, always keeping the heels flat on the footplate. Release the weight by using the safety handle and lower the footplate toward your chest, then push it upward to get your legs almost straight (keep a slight bend at the knees).
Stand with the bar resting over your traps and shoulders. Lift the bar out of the rack, then take a couple of steps backward placing your feet a bit wider than shoulder-width apart and point your toes slightly outward. Keeping your back straight, bend the knees and send your hips back to drop down into the bottom squat position, then push back up to standing.
Lie face down on the machine with the leg pad adjusted so that it rests right above your ankles. Grab the handles, then push against the leg pad to bring it up to try to get your ankles as close to your butt as you can. Make sure your hips stay resting firmly on the bench, and with control lower down to the starting position.
Sit on the machine and adjust the pad so that it’s resting right above your knee, placing the balls of your feet on the footplate. Release the weight by pointing your toes to lift the pad, then lower the weight as far as you can moving your heels down to the floor. Push through the balls of your feet to bring the thigh pad up as high as you can, then repeat the movement back down.
You can either squeeze the handle of a dumbbell in between your thighs or strap a weight plate around your waist using a dip belt. Then, grab a pull-up bar and bend your knees back to form a 90-degree angle. Pull your body up until your chin gets above your hands, then with control, lower back down to the starting position.
Lie on a flat bench keeping your feet flat on the floor. Grip the barbell with your hands shoulder-width apart or slightly closer (not too close, otherwise you’ll risk an injury). Engage your core and squeeze your shoulder blades together as you bring the barbell down to lightly touch your chest then explosively push the bar back to the starting position.
Stand up straight, holding a barbell with your hands shoulder-width apart and palms facing away from you. Keep your arms straight and let the bar rest against your thighs. By bending at the elbow, pull the bar up to shoulder height, then with control, lower it back down to the starting position.
Sit down on a bench with the backrest vertical or nearly so. Grab a dumbbell and hold the top end, supporting the weight with your palms. Then, push it over your head, extend your arms straight up and lower it behind your head, bending your elbows at a 90-degree angle. Extend your arms up again and repeat.
Here are some last-minute tips to help you make the most out of your hypertrophy program:
Warming up for about 5 to 10 minutes will help you avoid the risk of injuries that come from exercising with cold muscles. But a warm-up for weightlifting is slightly different than you might think.
Hypertrophy training requires you to warm up specifically for the exercise you are going to do. If you are going to squat, you should warm up by squatting, but with less weight than your planned work set.
An example of a warm-up routine would be:
You should ideally do 2 warm-up sets, increasing the weight and lowering the reps in each of them. Only one warm-up routine is required per muscle group, you don’t need to warm up for a new exercise if you are working the same muscles. Make sure to keep your warm-up reps under 6 to avoid excessive lactic acid release.
Lactic acid is a chemical that your body produces when it is low on oxygen, converting glucose into energy. Its excessive release can cause muscle pain, muscular fatigue and cramps.
The foods you eat, in particular your protein and carbs intake, play an important role in helping you build muscle. If you are over 19 years old, the recommended protein intake is around .8 grams per kilogram of your body weight. This should be enough for your body to build and repair muscle tissue and recover from workouts.
To complement, a high-carb diet will improve your performance at the gym by keeping a high level of glycogen (used by your body to store energy in your muscles). Generally, 2 to 3 grams of carbs daily per pound of bodyweight will do the trick.
Also referred to as “Bulking”, a caloric surplus is NECESSARY if you want to build muscle. Ideally, you should be eating more calories than you burn. Aim for an extra 5 to 10% of the total amount of calories you burn per day (total daily energy expenditure).
For most people, this would be about 16 to 18 calories a day per pound of body weight. The extra calories will provide your body with the fuel it needs to boost strength and muscle building during your hypertrophy training program.
If your goal is to build some serious muscle mass, a personal trainer is a way to go. Having someone that can provide the knowledge, experience and guidance will take your training to the next level.
Regardless of your fitness level, a personal trainer can help you improve your form and technique, reduce the risk of injuries, give you nutritional guidance and even serve as your daily motivation. If hiring a personal trainer is a little outside of your budget, a virtual trainer can give you great results for just a fraction of the price. If you need help, here’s a guide on what to look for in a personal trainer. Check out System2! A virtual personal training app that connects you with a certified fitness expert to guide you on your fitness journey. We incorporate video recording, calls, and text to give you constant access to your coach, making it easy for you to get feedback and advice.
Written by: Brenda Hernandez