Muscle hypertrophy (increases in skeletal muscle size) involves a consistent and progressive training program along with an optimal nutrition plan.
Recommended training volumes for muscle hypertrophy are 3-66 sets of 6-12 repetitions, using a weight that will fatigue the muscles on the final repetition. As you gain muscle, you’ll find it easier to complete the repetitions- an indicator that your program may need to be modified to help you continue seeing benefits. Genetics as well as gender also plays a role in muscle hypertrophy. Higher resistance programs will usually lead to greater hypertrophy in men; but because of lower levels of testosterone, women experience significantly less muscle gain (ACE, 2003).
If you’re looking for specific exercises or routines, ACE has an extensive exercise library online to help get you started. You can click on Workouts and Programs if you’re looking for an entire routine or simply browse through the Exercise Library for some new moves to freshen up an existing program. The exercises are listed by target area, available equipment, and individual exercise level. You can also check out the ACE YouTube Channel to stream a workout routine to your computer or device.
Working with a certified fitness professional is a great way to ensure proper form and intensity-particularly if you are new to strength training. More experienced individuals can also benefit from guidance to help make certain routines stays fresh, challenging and appropriate to their goals.
Nutritionally, it’s best to strive for eating a meal (or snack) every 3-4 hours to help boost nutrient availability- necessary for muscle growth. This is especially important around workout sessions. Before and after your strength-training routine, you’ll want to aim for a snack rich in carbohydrates along with about 10-20 grams of protein (SCAN, 2010). A few examples to try may be:
Peanut Butter & Crackers
½ Sandwich with Lean Meat-such as deli-style turkey or ham
Yogurt & Granola
Cottage Cheese and Fresh Fruit
It’s helpful to keep in mind the number of factors that affect muscle hypertrophy. But with the right program and persistence, your efforts will pay off in the end.