Selecting the Rep Schemes for a Hypertrophy Cycle
Hypertrophy is a very sought after training effect in the world of strength and conditioning.
Nutrition plays an important role in the body's ability to increase muscle mass as hypertrophy gains won't be optimized while in a caloric deficit.
On a training perspective, it's important to differentiate the two types of hypertrophy that occur within your muscles:
1) Sarcoplasmic hypertrophy: Gain in muscle mass caused by an increase in the volume of fluid in the muscle cell. This hypertrophy gain does not reflect an associated gain in strength.
2) Myofibrillar hypertrophy: Gain in muscle mass caused by an increase in the size of the contractile proteins. This hypertrophy gain is reflected by an associated gain in strength.
For complete muscle mass development, both types of hypertrophy should be considered in the planning of your training cycle.
In general terms, sarcoplasmic hypertrophy is optimized with sets of 8 to12 repetitions (70-78% of 1RM) and myofibrillar hypertrophy will occur between 6 and 8 repetitions (78-83% of 1RM).
The most effective way to plan the training period is to use undulating periodization alternating between accumulation phases using classic hypertrophy rep schemes and intensification phases using functional hypertrophy methods.
Here is an example of a 12-week Hypertrophy Cycle:
Accumulation 1 - 70%
4 x 10-12
Intensification 1 - 80%
Accumulation 2 - 74%
5 x 8-10
Intensification 2 - 83%
Notice that the entire 12-week Cycle Intensity average is set at 77%, which bridges perfectly between the strength qualities of Hypertrophy and Functional Hypertrophy, thus bringing the best of both worlds to your physical development.