Increase Strength through Hypertrophic and Neural Pathways

9th December 2019
Strength training is a staple of all training routines. However, there are a lot of people who don't know how to increase muscle strength.

Increasing strength is one of the basic pillars of exercise. Strength refers to the maximum force that our neuromuscular systems are able to exert during voluntary contractions.

This maximum force depends on the number of fibers that the muscle can recruit during contraction. In the following article, we’ll share two ways to increase your muscle strength. 

What does the development of strength depend on?

Regardless of the path used to increase strength, it mainly depends on the following factors:

  • Training intensity.
  • Volume and frequency of stimuli.
  • Contraction speed.
  • Exercise angle.
  • Rest sessions between exercises.

Now that you know the most important factors when it comes to increasing and developing muscle strength, let’s focus on the two ways we can use them.

Increasing strength through the neural pathway

When we talk about the neural pathway we’re referring to the activation of the central nervous system which we can train to be more efficient.

The way to activate this pathway is by increasing training frequency. For the central nervous system, an hour and a half workout is not the same as three 30 minute sessions a day.

Neural adaptation can occur through exercising. These adaptations that occur in the central nervous system allow the body to exert more force at a faster speed. Neural adaptation can also delay muscle fatigue and increase recovery times.

Man strength training

In order to activate neural pathways, it’s important to include explosive movements in workouts. Explosive workouts activate fast fibers that need strong and fast signals.

Increase strength through hypertrophy 

Increasing strength through hypertrophy has to do with increasing the transverse diameter of muscle fibers. This occurs due to an increased amount of contractile filaments: actin and myosin which are created by protein synthesis.

As we previously stated, the more muscle mass a person possesses, the stronger they are.

Protein synthesis occurs due to an increase in anabolic hormones which is produced due to stress in the cells from contractions and stretching.

Exercise causes an increased amount of muscle fiber stress. This causes muscle fibers to produce a series of reactions in the muscle tissue which causes hypertrophy.

Hypertrophy training should be carried out over 12 weeks if you are working at 75 percent of your maximum capacity. If you decide to increase the intensity of your workouts, this training scheme should be carried out over 10 weeks.

Traning pathways 

Below are some examples of the training pathways we discussed. Although the routines are different, they have the same goal: to increase muscle strength.

Neural pathway training method

  • Percentage of MR (maximum repetitions): 85-90 percent
  • Reps per set: 2 to 3 repetitions.
  • Sets: 4 to 8 sets.
  • Rest: 3-4 minutes.
  • Execution speed: very fast.
  • Effects: increased maximum strength thanks to its impact on the nerves. Little hypertrophy and improved neural activation. The strength will be improved without heavy loads.
Woman strength training

Increase hypertrophy method

  • Percentage of MR (maximum repetitions): 70-80 percent
  • Reps per set: 6 to 12 repetitions.
  • Sets: 3 to 5 sets.
  • Rest: 1-4 minutes.
  • Execution speed: very fast.
  • Effects: increased muscle hypertrophy and increased strength. This method has little effect on nervous system factors.

Conclusion

As you can see, there are two ways to increase muscle strength. It’s clear that no method is better than the other. Therefore, select the method you prefer, taking into account your specific characteristics. What are you waiting for?

  • Goldspink, G. (1992). Cellular and Molecular Aspects of Adaptation in Skeletal Muscle. En: Strength and Power in Sport. 211-229.
  • González-Badillo, J.J. y Gorostiaga-Ayestarán, E. (2002). Fundamentos del entrenamiento de la fuerza. Editorial INDE. Barcelona.
  • Jones, D. A. Y Rutherford, O. M. (1987) Human muscle strength training: the effects of three different regimes and the nature of the resultant changes. J. of Physiology. 391: 1-11