Hypertrophy-Specific Training Q&A

I’ve been getting a lot of reader feedback since I wrote about Hypertrophy Specific Training in the Newsletter. I’ve done my best to answer as much as I could individually. Then I figured it would save time just to begin answering some of the more common questions here.

QDear Bryan, I can’t thank you enough for your article on the above mentioned [HST]. I am a 36 year old male that has worked out on and off for many years with marginal results. I am very pleased to tell you that I have been following your Hypertrophy Specific Training for 6 weeks now and have gained close to 18 pounds of mostly muscle and my strength has gone through the roof, I was benching maybe 180lbs and now am up to 240+. Once again I thank you for this fantastic routine and plan to continue using it with continued success.If after another 6-12 weeks on this routine and I want to slim/diet down for the summer months (July – Sept) should I change this routine such as working each body part intensely once a week in order to sculpt or just keep on doing what I have been?Many thanks,John W.

A. Hi John,

First of all, congratulations on the results! Second, it really is my pleasure sharing things I’ve learned over the years, especially the useful stuff.J Now to your question…

Hypertrophy specific training should not be altered according to caloric intake. Although you will notice decrements in performance when calories and/or carbs are very low, the training stimulus will still be optimized when the program is followed as outlined. While calories are high, the program will optimize the anabolic effects of feeding. While dieting, the program will minimize the catabolic effects of starving (i.e.dieting).

Q. Dear Mr. Haycock,I read your article on hypertrophy targeted lifting at ThinkMuscle.com and was immediately interested. I ‘ve been lifting for seven years now using a four day per week routine that targets each body part once per week. I have never tried a complete body routine in an entire workout, nor a weekly routine where a body part is worked 3 times. My goal in weightlifting has always been to gain muscle, but not specifically for the purposes of exhibition. I’m really excited to try your program out, but I feel I need some questions answered before I put it to effective use.If you could answer a few of these questions concerning your program, I’d be grateful.

1. One of my biggest concerns is how to warmup for your program. With reps of 15 this may not be a problem, but what do you recommend the trainee do as he begins lifting with poundages near his 5-10 rep max?

As weights get heavier, do a warm up set or two as you normally would. Pick a weight that is perhaps 50-70% of the weight you will be using. Be careful not to over do it though. The reps should be easy, producing more of an “active stretch” than a strength challenge. You will find that when you train a body part more frequently, it requires less warm up to feel ready to perform. Still, listen to your muscles, and give them the time they need to get ready before you beat the crap out of them.

2. How does the trainee determine his *RM as he cycles through your program getting stronger? (I’ve read your articles at mesomorphosis.com with its different program design and wasn’t quite certain how to work RM determination into the program design at ThinkMuscle.com).

Get all your max lifts recorded BEFORE you begin the program. That means, before you start, you will know your 15 rep max, your 10 rep max, and your 5 rep max. This way you will know exactly how much weight you will use each workout for each exercise for at least the next 6 weeks. Undoubtedly, you will rapidly get stronger, making your previously established max inaccurate. This is NOT important. The next time around, rather than finding your maxes all over again, simply add 5-10 pounds to all your lifts. In other words, go back over your previous cycle and add 5 – 10 pounds to each weight that you recorded before for the next cycle. Keep in mind that training at your absolute max weight is not necessary to grow….trust me.

3. Is this type of program designed to be completed in 60 minutes or less? What kind of rest should I take between sets?

This workout should not take longer than 60 minutes. I can’t really tell you what kind fo rest periods to take because it depends on how much effort you are putting into it. I’m sorry if this sounds vague. Overall, rest periods should be around 1.5-2 minutes. When moving from one body part to the next try to alternate between apposing body parts. This way your chest, shoulders, and tris can rest while you hit your back and bis. After a while you will find your aerobic capacity going up as this closely resembles sort of a power circuit.

4. Your table that begins with the column labeled “Adjustments: 10RM routine” gave no explanation as to its use. How should this tool be used?

This is just a way of making weight increments when finding your maxes. For example, if you are looking for your 10 rep max, and you only get 6 reps, the table indicates you should decrease the weight 10 pounds. This works best for small muscle groups like bis and tris. The table as a whole is not important. I just thought it might help.

5. During the week of 5 Reps w/ negatives, how should the negatives be used? During each day of the two week period on every exercise or only during the second week as you near your 5RM? On each set of each exercise?

Negatives begin AFTER the last 5-rep week. The weight should be approximately your 2-rep max. Yes, negatives should be used on each exercise (where possible) and during each workout of the final two-week cycle calling for negatives. This is where Hypertrophy Specific Training differs from traditional routines. Never fear, if volume is kept low and training frequency kept high, you will experience breakthrough growth.

Thanks for motivating me to try a radically different routine. I’ve always work in different rep schemes to avoid extended periods of lifting at my heaviest. Your writings have pushed me to break out of my routine!Sincerely,Greg M.

No problem Greg, and good luck! Be sure and let us know how it goes!