Part II: Can you mix strength and hypertrophy training?
We have covered the lifting technique for strength training, let’s see how the technique can be adjusted to maximize muscle growth. The first thing we need to understand is that hypertrophy is a structural fit and not a measure of performance. Therefore, we did not concern ourselves with the amount of weight that can be lifted. We wonder which technique will maximize the hypertrophy response. Therefore, the technique will be slightly different from strength training.
The first and most important factor in building muscle is the anatomy of the muscles. We are trying to train. We need to make sure that the exercise actually requires the target muscles to contract under the load. Each muscle has a different anatomical structure, and the exercises we implement will train different muscles. We not only need to make sure that the exercise trains the muscles we are targeting, but we also need to adjust the techniques to maximize the tension on the muscle throughout the exercise. For example, if we are doing a row of cables for the upper back muscles, we shouldn’t just be using a technique that allows us to lift the most weight, we need to make sure that our technique involves the upper muscles as much as possible. back. So we have to make sure that the shoulder blades are fully retracted at the end of the range and fully extended at the start of the range. This will ensure that the traps and rhomboids are actually recruited and trained correctly.
Range of motion
The second consideration for the hypertrophy lifting technique is range of motion. Generally speaking, a greater range of motion results in greater hypertrophy results. Additionally, there is evidence that active stretching under load is an independent hypertrophy mechanism. However, there is a point where excessive range of motion can actually relieve muscle tension and simply add additional joint tension without any additional hypertrophic stimuli. For example, if we perform dips so deep that our shoulder starts forward, or if we squat so deep that the spine flexes. So basically we want to train with a maximum range of motion that still allows tension on the target muscle and that the trainee can actively control throughout.
Biomechanics of the lift
The next technique to consider for hypertrophy training is the biomechanics of the lift. Again, this refers to the way we lift weight from a positional and movement point of view. This joins the anatomy section where we want to use a technique that allows us to maximize the tension on the target muscle. This is based on the anatomy of the muscle, which technique gives the best mind-muscle connection, and what produces muscle pain the next day. For example, we can perform the leg press with a fairly narrow stance and a low foot position to maximize the tension on the quads. While it doesn’t allow us to lift the most weight, all of the strain is on the quads rather than other muscle groups and joints. And they are brought in through a greater range of motion.
The final consideration in hypertrophy training is tempo. For hypertrophy training, we want to use a tempo that ensures that tension is placed on the target muscle over the full range of motion. This usually means a slightly slower eccentric phase to control the load and minimize the involvement of the stretch-shorten cycle. By speeding up the tempo, we are betting on more elastic properties of the tendon rather than on muscle contraction. This doesn’t mean that each rep should be performed with an excessively slow tempo, it just means that we need to make sure that the muscle is actively contracting eccentrically rather than letting gravity do the work. For example, when performing calf raises, we want to make sure that the entire eccentric portion is controlled so that there is minimal involvement of the Achilles tendon stretch-shorten cycle.
We have now covered the fundamentals of how technique can differ between strength training and hypertrophy. However, we must understand that these are not polar opposite adaptations. This means that using a force-based technique will still induce a hypertrophic stimulus but will not maximize the hypertrophy.
CHOOSE YOUR PATH
Likewise, a technique focused on hypertrophy will still allow strength gains but will not maximize strength adaptations. Therefore, the techniques must be adjusted according to the goals of the individual at any given time. So we should use a technique related to our goals at some point. If we are practicing the deadlift, as much weight as possible for a maximum of one rep, then we should be using a deadlift technique that allows us to lift as much weight as possible. While this maximizes strength, it may not be ideal for gluteal and hamstring muscle growth.
So if our goals shift to a more hypertrophy-focused approach to training, then we can use controlled deadlifts across the stiff leg range instead. Additionally, trainees can combine lifting goals if they wish. They can use a strength-based technique for the lifts to maximize strength and a hypertrophy-based technique for the other lifts to maximize muscle growth. For example, a trainee may want to be strong at the bench press, but also want to develop their chest and triceps. In this case, they can train by performing one to two heavy sets of bench press using the force focusing technique, then a few more back shifts with lighter loads, higher rep ranges, and technique. oriented towards hypertrophy.