The Hypertrophy Training Guide Central Hub


What this page is about

This page is about helping you get your body into the best shape possible. To get you leaner, more muscular, more mobile, stronger, and healthier. Our information and apps will help you get in shape in ways that are the quickest, simplest, most powerful, and most applicable to your personal situation.

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On this page, you can:

The Basics of Muscle Growth

The Mechanisms of Muscle Growth

Muscle growth and breakdown occur all the time in all human muscles. For muscle growth to occur on the net balance, the pro-growth mechanisms must overwhelm the pro-breakdown mechanisms.

Here are the primary muscle growth mechanisms:


Everyone has different genetics. Some people's growth machinery is more active, some people's breakdown machinery is more active. He who has the best balance between growth and breakdown will be more muscular just because of genetics. Because you can't do much about your genetics, you just have to play the cards that you're dealt here!

Learn much more with this video:

Hormone Levels

Testosterone, for example, is an anabolic hormone. The more of it you have, the more muscular you're likely to be. Cortisol, on the other hand, is an example of a catabolic (breakdown) hormone. The more of it you have, the less muscular you're likely to be. You can increase testosterone by a small margin in a few ways. Mostly by eating well and getting plenty of rest. You might need TRT (Testosterone Replacement Therapy), but that's unlikely. You can decrease cortisol in a few ways too, but by a bigger margin. Some of these cortisol reduction methods include getting more sleep, getting more relaxation, organizing your training to manage fatigue better, and many more.

Learn much more with these videos:

Muscle Action (Training)

When your muscles move, molecular machines inside of them activate the process of muscle growth. Movements that generate high levels of tension (force), high levels of metabolic by-products (metabolites) and high levels of muscle cell swelling (the "pump") cause the most growth. These types of movements are typically the muscle building exercises done with strict technique and relatively heavy loading, taken close to muscular failure.

Learn much more with this video:

Biggest Growth Priorities Youtube Video


In order to gain as much muscle as possible, you have to consume enough protein and calories on a regular basis. Protein for the literal building blocks of muscle and calories for the energy with which to assemble that muscle. Those calories should come from a combination of protein, carbs and fats in balance for the best results. In addition, the foods through which those proteins, carbs, fats, and calories are to be consumed should be mostly nutritious and healthy, full of vitamins, minerals, phytochemicals, and fiber.

Here's a video series all about how to grow muscle by altering your diet:

Muscle Gain Dieting Made Simple Series

Stress Management, Relaxation, and Rest

Muscles grow best when stress levels are their lowest possible (outside of training, of course, which is expected to be super stressful!). Managing stress includes optimizing your work schedule, your life responsibilities, and making sure to get enough relaxation and rest. Not only does lower stress lead to less of the muscle-reducing hormone cortisol, it leads to more prioritization of muscle growth and thus bigger gains!

Here are videos on:

Stress management

Work First, Relax Later Youtube video



Relaxation leads to more gains? youtube video



Sleep is the best muscle building drug? youtube video

Excessive Activity

If you're serious about building muscle, you can definitely do tons of other sports or physical hobbies and still get jacked! But, the human body has limits, so if you're very interested in getting your biggest, being aware of the catabolic (muscle breakdown) nature of excessive activity may be wise!

Video about excessive activity:

Preventing muscle loss youtube video


Training, rest, sleep, recovery, and eating all take time. It takes time to grow muscle after the these mechanisms have been activated or are in place. Between training sessions, it takes time to recover for the next time you train. The most anabolic use of time between hard training sessions is some combination of easy activity (walking), relaxation, rest, and sleep. Even if you do things super well in this regard, muscle takes months and years to build. How much can you expect?

Here's a video on just that:

How long does it take to grow muscle?

Training for Muscle Growth

Before you dive deep into the explanations and links below, please note that 90% of the knowledge is already covered in just one video series:

Choosing Exercises for Muscle Growth | Hypertrophy Made Simple #1

Choosing your muscle groups

You'll want to train all the muscles you'd like to improve in size and strength. Want the deepest dive on how to train each muscle?
  1. Back
  2. Abs
  3. Traps
  4. Triceps
  5. Forearms
  6. Calves
  7. Front Delts
  8. Glutes
  9. Chest
  10. Biceps
  11. Quads
  12. Hamstrings
  13. Side Delts
  14. Rear Delts

Choosing your weekly split

There are many ways to split up your training. By far the two most important unifying principles for how to create your weekly workout split are:

Time constraints

If you can only train 3x a week for an hour at a time, then that's your basis for a split, no matter how interesting a 5-day split looks! Only ever program what you can definitely do week in and week out.

Recovery times

If you train a muscle with a certain difficulty and it recovers just on time for next time, you're winning.
If you train with too little effort in each session, such that you've been recovered for days before you hit that same muscle again, you might need to do more sessions a week or increase the per-session effort.
If you train with too much effort in each session, such that you're still tired or sore the next time you hit that same muscle again, you might need to do fewer sessions per week for that muscle or decrease the per-session effort (usually by reducing the number of sets).

    Many people will train each muscle they want to grow every time they come into the gym. Some people will only train half of their body on one session, then the other half, and so on, to let part of the body recover while the other part is being pushed hard. Still others will opt for more advanced splits like Push-Legs-Pull, and so on.

    Here are some helpful videos for you to watch regarding how to split up your week for your best results in muscle gain:

    Choosing your exercises

    There are hundreds of exercises to choose from, and you know what, tons of them are the right answer. Of course, some are not ideal, especially in a given situation. To make sure you're choosing the best exercises for you, the Stimulus to Fatigue Ratio (SFR) is the most important concept to know! The SFR is a formal way of stating that the best growth comes from exercises that stimulate the most muscle growth but add the least fatigue. This way, you can stimulate muscle growth via these exercises week in and week out without having to back off super often to reduce the massive fatigue that would have accumulated if you chose exercises with very poor ratios of stimulus to fatigue (low SFRs). Want to learn more?
    Here are a few videos on SFR:

    A simple explanation:

    Stimulus to Fatigue Ratio Quick Guide

    The advanced explanation:

    Advanced Implications of SFR | Advanced Hypertrophy Concepts and Tools | Lecture 13

    Exercise Technique Rules

    How you train matters a ton. It's not just about doing the correct exercises for you, but also about how you do them. Here's the quickest guide to good technique on the internet:

    Technique Fundamentals for Muscle Growth Training

    Choosing your Weights and Reps

    You can train productively from anywhere between sets of 5 challenging reps to sets of 30 or more challenging reps! But, details and context can matter, as explained in a few of these popular videos:

    1.) What Repetition Range Should YOU Train In?

    2.) Building Your First Program Video #2 | Choosing Weight and Reps

    Choosing your Set Numbers

    Choosing set number is about two things:

    1. Starting with very low set numbers so that you have minimal risk of over-doing it.
    2. Adding sets on occasion if your recovery is not sufficiently challenged.

    Here are a few videos explaining how many sets is the right answer for you:

    How many exercises should you do?

    Ok, we got the total set numbers taken care of, but what about exercises? If you do too few exercises in your plan, you can get wear and tear injuries from overuse, can get super bored and dejected from your program, or not get your ideal growth as muscles are best stimulated from a few angles rather than just one. On the other hand, doing too many exercises in a given timeframe can cause more confusion than growth, and can run you dry of any new exercises to use when your current selection becomes a bit stale. For this reason doing a few exercises per session and per week for every muscle group is usually the right answer. Exactly how many depends on a few things, all covered in this in-depth video:

    How Many Exercises Should You Do Per Muscle To MAXIMIZE Growth?

    How long should your workouts be?

    If you train for 20 minutes per session, that might be a bit too short to get the needed stimulus to grow the muscle mass you want. On the other hand, spending 3 hours or more in the gym at a time can leave you more tired than anabolic. There's a middle ground in there for the best gains, and the details for multiple situations are right in this video:

    How Long Should My Workouts Be?


    Choosing how hard to train in your first week

    If you don't go hard enough, it's kind of a wasted week. If you go too hard, you'll run out of steam after just a few weeks and will need to back off early. Knowing exactly how hard to start off your first week of muscle growth (hypertrophy) training is very beneficial, and this video will fill you in about it:

    How Long Should My Workouts Be?


    Progressing Effort, Load, Reps, and Sets

    We've got Week 1 in the bag, but how do you progress to Week 2, 3, and so on? You'll have to do some combination of increased weight, reps, and/or sets in order to continue to challenge your adapting body and promote the most growth. The exact combo you can use is a very well understood dynamic, explained in depth in these videos:

    How to add weight and reps to grow muscle

    Building Your First Program Video #3 | How to Progress


    How to detect a stop in progress

    When progress is good, it's good. But what do you do when the progress stops?

    Oh yeah, we've got you covered:

    Building Your First Program Video #4 | When to Take Breaks

    How to reduce fatigue to revamp progress

    Every time you train hard, you stimulate muscle growth. But, every time you train hard, you also generate some fatigue. Some of this fatigue heals completely by the next time you train, but some will hang around, and thus many consecutive weeks of hard training can result in fatigue accumulation. It's your job to make sure two things happen in this context. First, you should be training, eating, and recovering in such as way that adds the least amount of fatigue to begin with. Second, you should know when and how to detect when too much fatigue has accumulated, and know how to bring that fatigue back down so that you can go hard and heavy again for further gains. Here are two videos on exactly how to do that:

    How to replace stale exercises, rep ranges, and techniques

    Training in exactly the same way, just a bit harder, week after week is absolutely the best way to grow. But after some time, your muscles will need a change of pace to keep the gains coming. This change is most effective when it's NOT random, so here's a guide on how to make changes to your program to keep it as effective as possible:

    When to change exercises


    How to re-run this whole sequence over and over for continual results

    Now that you've learned the ins and outs of designing, modifying, and executing a scientifically-based hypertrophy program, you're ready to go. And when you program is finished and you'd like to build your next program after, here's how that works:

    How to Build Your Next Hypertrophy Plan


    Injury Prevention and Management

    What kinds of training cause the most injury and why

    Some types of training are simply more risky than others. For example, moving weights explosively, using poor technique, and failing to adequately warm up are some of the ways in which you can expose yourself to a higher risk of injury in training. For a discussion of how to prevent and manage injuries in the gym, check out this video:

    Preventing and Managing Injuries | Strength Training Made Simple #14


    How to reduce your injury risk in any given training situation

    If you're really averse to injury, perhaps because you've been hurt before (haven't' we all, amirite? Just kidding, that was a heartbreak joke.) or perhaps because you're a bit older and have no interest in getting hurt, we've got you covered. Here's a video about how to alter your training as much as you'd like to drive your injury risk as low as you're interested in having it:

    How To Reduce Your Injury Rate In The Gym By 10x


    What if you have nagging pains?

    They're not quite injuries, but they're super annoying! We've got a whole video on how to deal with nagging injuries, drawing on both the science of injury management and far too much personal experience with nagging pain:

     How to Deal with Nagging Injuries

    How to come back after an injury

    Come back from an injury takes some guts, but it's extra scary because of the uncertainty. Sure, you want to push hard again, but you know that pushing too hard too soon can cause re-injury, which is exactly the opposite of what you want. We've got a whole video for you on the multi-step exact plan of how to come back from injury and back to growing as seamlessly as possible:

    Coming Back From Severe Injury


    Eating for Muscle Growth and Fat Loss

    Oh man, do we have you covered here with a treasure trove of in-depth video series on every major aspect of nutrition for fitness. Here we go!

    How to eat to lose fat:

    Standardizing Your Caloric Intake | Fat Loss Dieting Made Simple #1


    How to eat to gain muscle:

    Muscle Gain Dieting Made Simple Series

    How to eat healthy:

    Choosing Healthier Foods | Healthy Eating Made Simple #1


    Helpful resources

    The RP Hypertrophy App

    This is an app custom-designed by me (Dr. Mike) and my team of sport scientists, pro bodybuilders (namely, Jared Feather, IFBB Pro), and software engineers we poached from the aerospace industry (for real!). We built the app so that instead of building rockets and wings, you could build huge legs and lats, and fly off into space! Well, maybe just shy of space, but mega gains will do! This app takes care of every single aspect of your training, from fully pre-loaded programs (dozens and dozens of them) to autoregulated adjustments to reps, sets, and weights every week based on your feedback and body responses. We're comfortable saying it's the most effective muscle growth training app on the market. Click here to give it a shot:

    RP Diet Coach App

    This app is a results-based diet coach in your pocket. You tell it how much weight you'd like to gain or lose, how long of a timeframe you'd like to do this in, how many meals you'd like to eat per day, and then you just choose your favorite foods for every meal. The app does the rest, telling you exactly what to eat and when, even reminding you to eat every meal exactly when the time comes if you'd like it to. If you need diet guidance to the letter but an elite RP coach is out of your price range, worry no more, the RP Diet Coach App has your back:

    RP YouTube

    If you'd like the learning and fun to continue, no worries! We post 5+ videos every week to our huge YouTube channel. Videos on diet, training, recovery, and everything in between so that you can leave the land of guesswork and enter the land of dependable results. Check it out:
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