What is Hypertrophy?
Hypertrophy can be both a noun and a verb.
Either way it refers to muscle mass or the process of increasing muscle mass.
Benefit 1: Increased Potential for Maximal Strength
“Mass Moves Mass”
More muscle means more potential for maximal strength.
• Fixed Loads are Lesser Percentages
• Any External Load Moves Easier
• Any Erg-Based Cyclical movement
More contractile tissue ≠ Lifting more weight
• Bodybuilders are huge often don’t have high 1RMs
• Weightlifters can be tiny and have high 1RMs
To Sum It Up: You are no where close to your ceiling for relative max strength.
Yet, more muscle mass is very strongly correlated with higher 1RMs.
This is why strong man competitors are so freakishly big.
Benefit 2: Improved Battery & Strength Endurance
If maximal strength goes up, your ability to move a object of a fixed weight goes up.
And in CrossFit it’s super common to have weights in workouts at these various fixed intervals (e.g. 135/95lb – 225/155lb – 315/205lb, etc.)
So if you have you are larger and stronger, you can probably do more reps in less time.
Benefit 3: Enhanced Ability to Act On External Resistance
Basically, if you’re a larger, stronger individual you are at an advantage any time you’re required to act on something other than your own bodyweight.
• Barbells, Dumbbells, Kettlebells
• Yokes, Sandbags, Sled, & Other Odd Objects
• Machines (aka. Ergs)
Bigger athletes do better on the ergs – AirBike, Rower, SkiErg, BikeErg, etc.
Cost 1: Increased Joint Wear & Tear
More Weight + Same Movements = More Irritation
This applies to bodyweight any time you have to “catch” yourself…
• Bounding: Double Unders, Box Jumps, Running
• Hanging Gymnastics: Pull-Ups, Muscle-Ups, Rope Climbs
• Midline-Centric Bodyweight Movements: Handstand Walk, Wall Walk, GHD Sit-Ups, Burpees
Cost 2: Taxes Cardiorespiratory System More
The Heart & Respiratory Musculature
More Bodyweight = More Oxygen Needed (for A & B)
Pistols, Burpees, Pull-Ups and Air Squats, Rope Climbs, etc.
B. Bodyweight Cyclical Elements
Running, Double Unders, Cycling on Land, Swimming, O-Course, etc.
• You have to ventilate more to keep more muscle mass working aerobically (i.e. higher respiration rate)
• Your heart has to work harder to deliver that oxygenated blood through more capillary beds (i.e. higher heart rate)
Fixed Pace Running at 2 Bodyweights
•80kg (176lb) = 170bpm (89% of 190 HRmax)
•90kg (198lb) = 181bpm (95% of 190 HRmax)
Cost 3: Increased Thermoregulation Demand
Surface area to mass ratio is reduced.
This means there is less tissue exposed to the environment.
(And therefore less opportunity to dissipate heat)
Good if… you’re trying to stay warm in a cold environment
Bad if… you’re trying to stay cool in a hot environment
Q: Will Adding Muscle Mass Help Me Gain Ground on my Competition Where I Am Currently Performing the Worst?
A: It depends where you are currently performing the worst (and best).
Look at Previous Performances
(e.g. Open Scores – High Score = Bad)
21.1 | 5000 points
21.2 | 8000 points
21.3 | 6000 points
21.4 | 15000 points
21.1 | 9000 points
21.2 | 4000 points
21.3 | 6000 points
21.4 | 3000 points
Athlete A: Performed Worst on a Max Lift
*therefore, gaining mass and maximal strength will likely aid performance
Athlete B: Performed Worst on a Couplet of Bodyweight Movements
*therefore, gaining mass would likely make them worse
*make sure to take into consideration what type of scoring system you’re peaking for to try to perform your best (e.g. Open vs. Games)
Article: The Role of Hypertrophy in CrossFit Performance
Listen: #012: Optimizing Your Body for Fitness Performance
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