Strength and hypertrophy training: 4 differences

Do you know how strength training and hypertrophy training are different? We tell you about it in this article.

Last update: July 31, 2022

Looking to improve your performance and increase muscle mass? So, strength and hypertrophy training will be present in your routine. However, some doubts arise when aiming for one, the other or a combination of both. Read on to learn 4 differences between them.

Strength is the physical capacity we use to carry out work. or to make a move. It is a quality that we possess and that we use to oppose a resistance.

For its part, hypertrophy refers to muscle growth. Although one can go hand in hand with the other, this does not happen in all cases.

The main differences between strength training and hypertrophy training

Which one should you start with? This will depend on your goals.

For example, if you’re looking to increase your weight, you’d be better off aiming for hypertrophy exercises. On the other hand, if you want to improve your sports performance, perhaps the ideal is to gain strength.

In any case, you can also opt for hybrid routines, that is, those that combine both.

Strength training and hypertrophy training have a close relationship. If we take this into account, we will know that focusing the work on one will also help us improve the other aspect.

A study from January 2022 suggests that training with higher loads leads to greater gains in muscle strength compared to lower loads. In contrast, muscle hypertrophy obtains similar results, regardless of the magnitude of the load.

Here are 4 differences between strength training and hypertrophy training.

1. The number of repetitions

in strength training more series are performed on each exercise. However, the number of repetitions will be less than what we will implement to develop hypertrophy.

For example, if to obtain strength we carry out 5 series of an activity, to target muscle growth it could be 3. Regarding repetitions, if we carry out 1 to 5 with the maximum possible load, for hypertrophy work we can reach to 10.

The stimulus with external weight causes the muscle to develop more fibers and increase in size.

2. The loads

A study on strength adaptations and hypertrophy indicates that maximum strength benefits are obtained with the use of heavy loadswhile muscle hypertrophy can be equally achieved across a broader spectrum of load ranges.

3. Rest

By making a maximum effort to increase force, muscle fatigue is greater and recovery times between exercises must be considerable. They are usually spent 2-3 minutes before moving on to the next activity.

On the other hand, for hypertrophy work, the rest times will be shorter. They are usually between 30 and 90 seconds.

4. Planning

The number of days of the week to work one and the other variant also changes. At this point hypertrophy is imposed, since you can work more times in fewer days.

The fact of doing specific work on each muscle allows us to distribute the routines and cover different muscle groups each day. According to the plans made, we could work 5 or even 6 days a week, with enough recovery time.

As for strength training, 3 or 4 days a week will be more than enough. Remember that the demand is greater, so more wear and tear is generated and we need more time to recover.

These are some ideal exercises to work on strength and hypertrophy

Strength and hypertrophy training are complementary and the work on one also provides benefits to the other. However, if your idea is to focus on just one of these qualities, here are some specific exercises.

Exercises to gain strength

  • Rowing: in this case, it is about strengthening the lats. If we opt for the use of the bar, we must stand up, bring the hips back and lean the torso forward. In that position, the movement of the arms must be made to bring the bar down and up.
  • Squats: They consist of making the hips backward and bending the knees to bring the torso down, as if we were going to sit down. Then we go back up to the starting position. Squats are great for strengthening your leg muscles and joints.
  • Iron: It is an isometric exercise that works the whole body, although it mainly helps to strengthen the middle zone. This type of activity improves balance, stability, and strength.
  • burpees: It involves a combination of jumping jacks, squats and push-ups. The level of intensity will depend on the physical condition of each one. It emphasizes coordination and allows for increased strength.
The burpees They are recognized for their multi-articular work and for the intensity with which they can be executed.

hypertrophy exercises

  • Dead weight: It is ideal for strengthening the abdomen, buttocks and legs. Emphasis should be placed on technique to reduce the risk of injury. With your back straight, bring your hips back and, without bending your knees, lower the bar in a controlled manner.
  • Press banking: Pectorals and triceps are worked. Lying on your back, you should lower the bar to your chest and raise it until your arms are stretched out. The movement is then repeated until the series is completed.
  • Press inclined: It is performed on a bench with a 45 degree incline. Lying down and with your feet flat on the ground, you should raise the dumbbells until your arms are fully stretched. Then bend your elbows for the descent.
  • Incline Barbell Row: it’s all about keeping your back straight to lift the bar from the ground to your chest. Always keep your knees bent. All the dorsal muscles are worked, but also the buttocks and legs.

Strength or hypertrophy, which do you decide for?

Strength training and hypertrophy feed each other and can be worked out in the gym. Anyway, it is also possible to choose a specific one if you have a particular goal.

Whether you want to decide on one of the two to start with will also depend on your goal. There is no definitive answer on this.

It is best to have professional advice to develop adequate routines, achieve the technique for each exercise and respect rest times. In the long run, you will surely increase both your strength and muscles.

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