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Hypertrophy Vs Strength Training: What’s The Difference?


Strength Training | Hypertrophy | Similarities | Differences | Combining Both | Workout Plan

Much like there are different types of cardio (HIIT vs LISS, for example), there are different types of strength training, with each having unique goals and methods.

In this blog, PureGym Manchester Spinningfields PT and Gym Manager Chris Gell looks at the differences between two popular types of strength training: hypertrophy vs strength training.

What Is Strength Training?

Strength training is often used as an umbrella term to encompass all types of resistance training, but it is a specific type of resistance training that focuses on increasing the strength and force of the muscles to lift heavier weights.

This style of weightlifting prioritises compound exercises that expose the muscles to heavier weights, and using heavier weights with lower reps.

Example exercises: squats, deadlifts, bench press, overhead press.

What Is Hypertrophy?

Hypertrophy is a type of training that focuses on increasing the size of the muscles to alter the physique.

Hypertrophy training focuses on exposing the target muscles to increasingly more weight through a mix of compound and isolation exercises, and typically uses moderate weights and moderate reps.

Example exercises: leg extension, bicep curls, tricep extensions.

Hypertrophy Vs Strength: Similarities

There are a lot of similarities between strength and hypertrophy training. Both require regular, consistent training to see results, and both require training intensity to be increased over time to see results.

There are crossovers in benefits too, including:  

  • Increased muscle mass. While hypertrophy training is more effective at building muscle mass, strength training will see an increase in muscle volume too.

  • Improved strength. Both types of training will see an improvement in strength. Strength training is better at producing the neurological adaptations needed for huge amounts of strength and power, but any form of resistance training will increase strength.

  • Better bones and joint health. Both types of training can improve bone density and joint stability.

Strength Vs Hypertrophy: Differences

The main difference between these types of training are the workouts themselves. The exercises, volume, and intensity will differ between the two.

  • Exercises. Strength workouts focus on exercises that recruit as many muscle fibres as possible, while hypertrophy workouts focus on exercises that fatigue the target muscles.

  • Volume. Hypertrophy training requires a higher training volume, with more workouts each week and those workouts involving more reps and sets than a strength workout.  

  • Intensity. Strength workouts opt for heavier weights, with lower reps and longer rest periods. Hypertrophy based workouts use moderate weights and reps, and are more likely to include strategies like time under tension and drop sets to fatigue specific muscle groups.

There are some differences in benefits and risks as well. Strength workouts are more likely to improve overall performance but have a higher risk of injury due to exposing the body to heavier loads. Hypertrophy workouts can increase muscular endurance as well as improve aesthetics, but there’s a higher potential of overtraining and can be less likely to benefit overall performance.

Combining The Two: Hypertrophy Strength Training

It is possible to combine strength training and hypertrophy training in a workout programme by incorporating both heavy, low-rep sets for strength and lighter, higher-rep sets for muscle growth in your workout. This can help to improve overall muscle strength and size while also enhancing muscular endurance and definition.

You can also choose to do 1-2 workouts a week that focus on hypertrophy, and 1-2 a week that focus on strength.

Strength & Hypertrophy Workout

The following workouts can be used to build strength and hypertrophy.

Upper body

  1. Bench press – 5 sets of 3-6 reps with heavy weights

  2. Rows – 5 sets of 3-6 reps with heavy weights

  3. Bicep curls – 3 sets of 8-12 reps with moderate weights

  4. Lateral raises – 3 sets of 8-12 reps with moderate weights

  5. Tricep extensions – 3 sets of 8-12 reps with moderate weights

Lower body

  1. Squats – 5 sets of 3-6 reps with heavy weights

  2. Deadlifts – 5 sets of 3-6 reps with heavy weights

  3. Hip thrusts – 3 sets of 8-12 reps with moderate weights

  4. Leg extension – 3 sets of 8-12 reps with moderate weights

  5. Calf raises – 3 sets of 8-12 reps with moderate weights

Need more ideas for strength and hypertrophy workouts? Check out some of our blogs include this muscle building workout here, and exercises to make you stronger here.

For tailored programming, why not work with our of our Personal Trainers at your nearest gym.

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