Classic Hypertrophy Workout

9th August 2019
In the world of exercise, workout and routine improvements make daily strides. Every day brings a new variety of workouts for any purpose. They promise more structure and more precision. But, don't forget the classic methods; many people still rely on them.

For anyone interested in hypertrophy, instructions such as, “four sets of ten reps” will ring a bell. The traditional method is still around and respected by many. Paired with a high-protein diet and proper rest, the classics build serious muscle. So, what’s there to say about the classic muscle-building method?

First off, many beginners who set out to build muscle make the mistake of blowing over the details in the classic method. There’s more to consider than just focusing solely on following sets and reps.

Underestimated factors

In most cases, people take a broad approach to hypertrophy routines and forget about important details that could improve their workouts immensely. Some of these crucial factors include:

  • Recovery time between sets
  • Recovery time between exercises
  • Number of exercises per muscle
  • Workout speed: eccentric and concentric phases

But failing to find the perfect balance for these factors reduces progress. Let’s divide the hypertrophy workout stages into three levels to better understand how to follow a more efficient routine:

  • Beginner (basic)
  • Intermediate
  • Expert (advanced)

Basic hypertrophy workout

The basic workout only helps the body prepare for the journey ahead. First, beginners need to solidify a workout habit in order to continue towards the main objective, which is building muscle. Additionally, the basic workout can also serve other purposes as well, such as to help build muscles that are smaller than the rest. Here’s a simple guide:

  • Duration: 4-5 months
  • Workout days: 3 days a week
  • Number of repetitions per set: 8-10 reps per set
  • Recovery time between sets: 60 seconds to 90 minutes
  • Workout speed: 1 second for the concentric phase and 2 seconds for the eccentric phase
  • Recovery time between exercises: 2 or 3 minutes
  • Number of exercises per muscle: 4 exercises for big muscles, 2 exercises for small muscles
  • Number of sets per exercise: 3 sets
hypertrophy basic

Intermediate hypertrophy workout

After an individual has completed the beginner’s portion, he or she can move on to an intermediate level that is longer and more physically demanding. In the intermediate phase, progress comes slow but exercisers need to continue doing their workouts perfectly and always respect these guidelines:

  • Duration: 6-8 months
  • Workout days: 4-5 days a week
  • Number of reps per set: 8-12 reps per set
  • Recovery time between sets: approximately 60 seconds
  • Workout speed: 2 seconds for the concentric phase and 2-3 seconds for the eccentric phase
  • Recovery time between exercises: 2 minutes
  • Number of exercises per muscle: 4 exercises for big muscles, 3 exercises for small muscles
  • Number of sets per exercise: 4 sets

Advanced hypertrophy workout

Lastly, individuals who’ve been following a hypertrophy workout over a significant amount of time can move on to more advanced exercises:

  • Duration: one year
  • Workout days: 4-6 days a week
  • Number of reps per set: 8-12 reps per set
  • Recovery time between sets: 60 seconds
  • Workout speed: 2 seconds for the concentric phase and 2-4 seconds for the eccentric phase
  • Recovery time between exercises: 1 minute
  • Number of exercises per muscle: 6 exercises for big muscles, 4 exercises for small muscles
  • Number of sets per exercise: 4-5 sets

Keep these important aspects in mind

Aside from everything mentioned above, there are more important aspects to keep in mind. For example, doing the minimum amount of cardiorespiratory and aerobic exercises. By complementing hypertrophy exercises, you can improve all aspects of your body, not just muscle strength.

If you’ve reached the advanced workout, you can also consider doing supersets. Supersets string together exercises for different muscles.

Additionally, other options are bisets or trisets, which are workouts that compile two and three exercises (respectively) for the same muscle. These combination exercises make up popular workouts such as HIIT routines or CrossFit WODs.

hypertrophy alternatives

But, hypertrophy pioneers forgot about this one

One important aspect was left out of the beginnings of contemporary muscle-building: the neural factor, pure and hard force. You can give it a great workout with three or four reps and strengthen your neurons.

While studies have shown that certain workout time tables make a big difference in hypertrophy results, many more still need to be completed to make any conclusions.

In any case, the good news is that we’re learning more and more every day about increasing volume and strength in different muscle fibers. Make the most of your resources to reach your goals!

  • Gonzalo Cuadrado Sáenz, Carlos Pablos Abella, Juan García Manso. Aspectos metodológicos y fisiológicos del trabajo de hipertrofia muscular. Wanceulen Editorial Deportiva.

  • Ramón. Lacaba. 2001. Musculación: el entrenamiento personalizado. Madrid.

  • Carmelo Bosco. La fuerza muscular: aspectos metodológicos. Editorial INDE.