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Navigating a Hypertrophy phase

If you’ve read my article about the manipulation of macros and calories in a fat loss phase then today’s article will make a lot more sense to you. If not, go back and read the other articles in this series to familiarise yourself with some of today’s content. I’m going to dive into the specifics of a successful Hypertrophy phase. The first thing you need to do is start tracking data immediately, for argument’s sake, we will say this client is starting off at 2,500 calories (arbitrary numbers, it will vary depending on the individual). We want the beginning of the phase to be maintenance calories, and to pair that with a Hypertrophy phase program, we will discuss what that looks like shortly. The reason is, we want to begin the phase potentially shedding some excess fat and almost being in a deficit. Spend a few weeks here, then make an increase to the food intake, this rapid change in calories will make the body very responsive in an anabolic way. Kickstarting the Hypertrophic response we are chasing.

So what does this program look like? It will be a combination of exercises that cause mechanical damage/tension and metabolic stress. In layman’s terms a mixture of heavyweights for lower reps designed to cause damage to the muscles ( usually exercises that load the lengthened position of the muscles i.e squat) and exercises where the goal is high amounts of reps to load the shortened position (squeezing exercises like a leg extension). Once you have your program the emphasis now has to be placed on progression. New muscle is earned, not given. So you need to log all of your weights, reps, and sets, and then each week increase those numbers as much as you can! Not the bare minimum. Train as if you will not gain unless you leave 100% out there. Every rep, every set, every session.

Now, how are you supposed to fuel and recover from that at maintenance calories? You won’t. This is why we increased our food intake. To bring our calories to above where our bodies need them to be. It is a synergistic relationship where you will need to both work so hard to demand the extra calories from your body, and also eat more than you need to continue the process. Tracking data comes into place here, once sleep is at a good level,
energy levels are high, we will increase food bi-weekly or more to ensure the number on the scale is increasing. The goal is to add new muscle tissue, meaning our weight will increase. This increase will be made to the protein and carbohydrates, the protein to build new tissue and repair and maintain current tissue, and the carbs to fuel our intense training sessions and to replenish depleted glycogen stores (carbs stored in muscles for energy) after we train.

Monitoring the data now is key. Watching the body weight closely, making increases to food strategically to avoid any plateau’s. This will simply keep the body gaining. As we said, new muscle is earned! You will need to eat more food, and you will need to train your ass off. There will come a time for what is known as a de-load. Essentially what we are doing is sharply decreasing the intensity of training, while at maintenance calories, to allow the body to replenish its own recovery capabilities. Were reducing the high amounts of stress placed on the body through aggressively progressive training, and using all of those calories and nutrients to reset the body back to a place of neutrality. This is the case in all training goals, club, and individual sports, anything fitness-related. The off-season. The signs for when we need to unload could be a lower quality of sleep for a long period, low energy levels, or a stall in body weight, but only if it continues for 2-3 weeks. When the signs are there, decrease the workload. Wait for those bio-markers to return to a high level, and then repeat the process. And then there you have all this new muscle tissue at your disposal.

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