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Hypertrophy Specific Training

Hypertrophy Specific TrainingWhat is Hypertrophy Specific Training and will it work for you?

The most common form of training style is the split routine, where you spend around a week working individual parts of the body. The definition of the word hypertrophy is, ‘The enlargement of an organ or tissue from the increase in size of its cells’. Research in the laboratory has led to scientists discovering how the muscles really grow leading the athletes developing a new training routine called Hypertrophy Specific Training. Hypertrophy specific training looks beyond what is visible to the naked eye and looks at aspects such as myogenic stem cells, growth factors and mechanical loading. All this scientific knowledge allowed people to adapt workouts according to cellular principles.

Main Hypertrophy Specific Training Principles

Load and Resistance –  For growth to occur a muscle must have a load applied to it. This has not changed from a traditional method as weight has obviously been used for years to build muscle.

How you stimulate muscles – This is where research has kicked in, muscles have been shown to complete their anabolic state in 48 hours. In other words recovery is complete within this time. If you are split training this means your muscles could be in a rested state for 5 days before being worked again. This limits the amount of growth you can achieve. This leads in HST training to exercise your entire body every 3 days.

Progressive load – If you keep applying the same weight to muscles they can become resistant to the effects of loading. This reduces their tendency to grow, it is therefore important to you increase the load and repetitions to stop this effect from happening. You don’t necessarily have to be perform a HST routine at your maximum capability. You need to strategically increase the load over time and hypertrophy will occur even if you are not exercising at your max. So starting low will allow you to build up keeping your muscle growth at a maximum.

Hypertrophy Specific training also involves performing a higher amount of reps than the traditional techniques. The idea is that this will build up more lactic acid within the muscles and will prepare them and the tendons for future heavy loads. Keeping in mind you keep the reps high, HST also involves changing the number of reps you do each week. For example in week 1 you do 14 reps in week 2 you then do 16 reps.

HST principles state the if you split your bench press over 3 days say monday, wednesday, friday and perform 2 sets each day you will get better growth than performing 6 sets on your chest day.

In essence HST is simply training your entire body every 3 days, and varying and increasing the rep and load. Science is factual and the results have to be valued although through personal experience this training style shows no increased hypertrophy. It only takes a small glance at the way I currently train to see how you can incorporate hypertrophy specific training and split training in your routine.

On a split routine you should be doing some big compound exercises. Now these compound exercises are working a vast proportion of your body. If you do squats on the first day of your split then you are working your legs and your core. The next day could be your chest which works your pectorals, shoulders, triceps leaving your legs to grow in an anabolic state. Then you have a back day, involving heavy dead lifts and rows. These are going to work your legs and lower back again as well as biceps and forearms. You may see the trend here. Having your heavy compound exercises spread out throughout your split routine will mean that your entire body will be worked every 3 days. This is perfect and follows HST principles.

So you can take the principles of hypertrophy specific training and just incorporate it into your split routine to get incredible results. Just make sure you keep lifting those heavy compound exercises and throw in a few high rep sets as well.

I would like to thank David from the StrengthandFitnesstips Facebook fan page for pointing out HST training and I would love to hear your thoughts on HST in the comments below.


  1. Hey Will,
    I was huge into weight lifting throughout my high school days. I stopped lifting weights and switched over to doing “grunt works” to stay in shape. Pushing wheelbarrows, chopping wood, cutting up trees and so on.

    I will someday join a gym or buy my own equipment again when I don’t want to do the grunt work anymore.
    Have you ever heard of static contraction? That was the last type of strength training that I had done. It’s not good for toning, but great for adding size and strength.

    • I do love grunt work, chopping tree’s down is such a good workout and too satisfying. I hadn’t until you mentioned it, the results look amazing, where you doing just the bench and leg press? That’s what was recommended on

  2. Hi Will and thx for this article! It was nice to see that u have wroute something about hst and as always its very informative. Thumbs up!

    Here my thoughts:

    Hst workout is a great method to build up muscles and a good start for beginners since the intensity of this workout system is set on a moderate level. With this system u may build up muscles without forcing muscle malfunction caused by a too hard training. Currently my workout is based on this system and i can recommend it to any body who wants to give it a try. Here some general things 2 know about:

    1. Weights can always be added (no reducing!) or have to stay thesame.
    2. If a weight is set to high then dont reduce the weight, reduce repetitions.
    3. at least 3 training days per week for all musclegroups.
    4. Workout has to be moderate without forcing ur muscles to malfunction.
    5. max. 2 sets per exercise.
    6. be focused to regenerate at ur off training days.

    Before u can start with hst u have to make a max power test (15 / 10 / 5 reps.) to estimate the amount of weights needed to work with. Here a example how u can calculate the weights to start of with:

    Start weight = 100% (max power test) – rate of increase x (training units micro cycle -1)

    in this example the rate of increase will be 16.5lbs.

    Now lets say we start of with benchpress at 176lbs (max power test 15 reps., 6 training units in 2 weeks) then the calculation will look like this:

    Startweight = 176lbs – 16.5 lbs x (6-1) = 93.5lbs

    93.5lbs is the weight to start of with the first micro cycle (2 weeks) at 15 reps. Now each training unit 16.5lbs will be added to the specific exercise u have chosen till the micro cycle ends.

    There is a lot more to write about how it acutally should be done (weight increase , Macro cycles, decondition phase etc.) so if this could be something for you then gatter the infos on the web, at your local gym or by your trainer. (My english is to bad or else i would have written it myself ^^)

    Greetz! David

    • Wow David this is great, your workout looks awesome, I will try it and recommend it to anyone else interested in HST!

  3. 15 reps is too much .. you should not do more than 12 reps rather decrease your time in between

    • Not for this purpose, for myofibrillar hypertrophy (muscle growth) the best rep range is between 8-16. So maxing at 16 reps for HST training is advisable.

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