Hypertrophy, we’ve all heard the term, but what exactly does it mean? As defined by the Merriam-Webster dictionary, Hypertrophy is the excessive development of an organ or part. In fitness, hypertrophy is often associated with large bodybuilders like Arnold Schwarzenegger or Ronnie Coleman. These athletes look impressive, but can they move well, or are they healthy? Ronnie Coleman has had multiple surgeries, including 9 back surgeries, due to his competitive bodybuilding career. You would be hard-pressed to find anybody who thinks that this is healthy. This sets the stage for a major question we have to ask ourselves: Is hypertrophy work just for aesthetics, or does it have a place in functional performance as well?
The truth is, it can, and should, exist in both. By increasing the size of muscle fibers through the use of hypertrophy training, you not only become stronger, faster, and more adaptive (functional performance), but you also look the part (aesthetics). When you build more muscle, you boost your metabolism, which helps to burn more body fat, giving you that leaner look we all are looking to achieve. You also are able to move weight across broad time, and modal domains, which is exactly what our goal is in the functional fitness space.
So how do we accomplish this? By incorporating strength-based training, along with our functional-based training. You’ve probably noticed we’ve already started doing that in various ways with the programming at Frequency. We’ve incorporated weeks of the back squat, front squat, strict press, and push press training. We’ve worked on strict pull-ups, jumping negatives, and strict handstand push-ups. Even if you aren’t going for a 5-RM (rep max), 3-RM, or 1-RM lift, by incorporating different ways of putting metabolic stress on your individual muscle fibers through the use of tempo, additional reps, and “time under tension”, you are developing the strength, and muscle mass, to not only build muscle and burn fat but to also perform better and move more efficiently.
We believe that functional fitness, through the incorporation of monostructural cardio, gymnastics, plyometrics, and weight training, is the best way to achieve peak health. But, we also know that by increasing muscle mass, through the use of hypertrophy training, you not only achieve the aesthetics you want, but you are able to perform better in functional training. Lift heavier, lift faster, move more efficiently, that is what we are aiming to achieve. And, we know we can all get there through the use of both functional, performance, based training, but also including hypertrophy training as well.
Be on the lookout for a healthy combination of longer, more cardio-based workouts, mixed in with some shorter, more strength, and hypertrophy-based workouts, in the programming. And, as always, if you have any questions or concerns, don’t hesitate to ask a coach!