The Hypertrophy Fad… what is this?

The Hypertrophy Fad… what is this?

Nowadays it is in to have a muscular and well defined body and the most pronounced word by the followers of this fad is hypertrophy.

But what does hypertrophy means?

The technical definition is: the increase of cellular content.

In relation to muscles, its cells hypertrophy by increasing the amount of proteins that are responsible for contraction and extension, and thus the movement of the body.

Our muscles adapt easily to what we impose upon them. So, if we work hard, they will be stronger, if we stretch them they will be more extensible, if we work hard and stretch they will be strong and extensible. Thus, every time we use these muscles, some proteins are broken. When we are at rest, these proteins will be produced again and due to workout, more proteins will be produced. This means that there will be an increase in the amount of proteins within the cell, or hypertrophy.

There are exercises, that when practiced with correct loads, strengths and frequencies, they can accelerate the process of hypertrophy, more so than other exercises. The prescription must be individual and many factors must be taken into account for this.

With hypertrophy there is an increase in the overall size of the muscle making it more apparent, and this is what people seek. However, this ability to hypertrophy is limited by certain factors. The main being genetic. Better explaining, muscle size and type of predominant cells (yes there are some different types of muscle cells) is determined by the genes, the same way as height, skin color, etc. This means that a person may present more hypertrophy than another doing the same workout. And also linked to genetics, gender can influence. Men have a higher amount of testosterone than women. This hormone acts directly in the production of muscle proteins, so men have more muscles and are stronger than women.

Another factor that can influence hypertrophy is food. For proteins to be produced, a number of proteins in the food is certainly required. But it is also necessary to the body to have energy to be used in the production of new proteins, and this energy should always come from carbohydrates. Most people, as they are based only on advertisements and blogs written by those who practice and not by those who study, believe they should ingest a large amount of protein.

A nutritionist is the only one that is qualified to prescribe supplements and only after a consult.

It is very common to have sufficient and even a higher quantity of protein than necessary in the food we ingest, but with an insufficient amount of carbohydrates and, on top, bad quality carbohydrates. Without energy, proteins are not produced correctly.

So the search for the hypertrophy fad requires good reading and good information and not only be influenced by the appearance of people.

Hypertrophy is a slow and planned work. Otherwise muscle injury and/or damage to health can occur.


Dr. Ivani Manzzo is PhD in Science from the School of Medicine UNIFESP – EPM in São Paulo, Brazil, with emphasis on obesity, pregnancy and exercise. In 2010 she began hers studies as Life Coach and has since worked helping people achieve their nutritional and heath goals. These articles are published with Dra Ivani Manzzo’s permission.