The Truth About Combining Strength And Hypertrophy Training
February 23rd 2020
It is commonly asked for anyone looking to gain both strength and size, can you train both strength and hypertrophy at the same time?
Even if you do your basic research, you will know that strength training usually happens around 5 reps.
While any hypertrophy training will happen around 8-12 reps.
So, does it even make sense that you can train for both?
Can you train both strength and hypertrophy at the same time?
Short term, you can train for both strength and hypertrophy. This can last a few weeks or even a few cycles of any program.
However, you will find out quickly that there is a reason why many lifters focus on just one goal over time.
What you should realize about combining both strength and hypertrophy training
It sounds good on paper and it does work.
Because hypertrophy training forces you to gain more muscle and if you use heavy weights while trying to progressively overload, you will gain strength as well.
Similarly, if you are training in relatively low rep ranges for strength but have 3-5 exercises in your workout, that is plenty of volume for you to grow as well.
This is all pancakes and butterflies until you realize something, this is all hard work.
You will need to make sure you are focusing on and aiding your body in recovery.
And what I noticed is that a lot of lifters can do this for the short term.
4 week program? Sure, no problem.
6 week cycleS? Eh, let’s do it.
4 six week cycles? Let’s go.
But the longer you stay on the program, the more focused and diligent the lifter will need to become.
And I noticed very few lifters willing to make these sacrifices.
Usually, what tends to happen is that the lifter has a shift in mindset.
They do want to get big and strong but now, they will prioritize one over the other:
- Strength over hypertrophy
- Hypertrophy over strength
Neither is good nor bad.
In fact, this is how many lifters should train but a lot of people do not see the value in either bodybuilding or strength training.
So, there is a lot of untapped potential in many lifters since they are not aware that bodybuilding and strength training go hand-in-hand.
This is one reason why many programs have a off-season and a in-season program.
A competition program and a non-competition program.
If you are a strength athlete, you do not want to be doing exercises that are not being tested in competition.
Sure, you may want to get bigger but at that moment in time, it is not an appropriate goal.
You need to focus on strength and power in the short term.
Similarly, when you are several months away from a strength competition, you have a brief moment to actually do a cycle of bodybuilding.
You give your body the opportunity to develop more muscle to support your future strength.
Yes, you can skip this process but there is a reason why many of the all-time greats did some sort of bodybuilding in the off-season.
And if you are competing in bodybuilding competitions, you have no business doing heavy workouts close to competition as you are cutting calories and trying to maximize your physique.
Powerbuilding and not listening to science
Many fitness experts will say that in order to build strength optimally, you need to be at least 75%+ of your 1RM for 3-5 reps.
If you go for more reps, it is possible that you can do it.
However, it will be very taxing physically and psychologically.
You might not be able to do a proper workout in your next training session if you keep the intensity of your workouts that high.
I actually ran an off-season powerbuilding program and I reviewed it here.
It was Kizen’s Infinite Offseason Program, written by Silent Mike, Bart Kwan, and Omar Isuf.
But getting back on topic, if you use up all your energy to lift heavy for a high amount of reps, you will have nothing in the tank to lift high amounts of volume.
So, this is where these two goals will conflict with each other and why you may not be able to sustain this style of training for a long period of time.
There is no doubt you can do this type of workout for 1 day, few days or even 1 cycle.
But do it for 6 months.
You are asking for a lot and providing very little resources in order to achieve this goal.
It is not realistic and unsustainable for the long term unless you are really just using light weights for the higher rep exercises.
But if that is the case, you are just wasting time.
Go back home and take a nap.
Strength first, hypertrophy second
If you focus on building strength, you will notice that hypertrophy is a by-product of all your training.
If you lift heavy with a moderate amount of volume, you will grow muscle.
How do I know this?
Because it has happened to me personally.
I never once had a goal to gain muscle.
I only focused on building strength, and once in a blue moon, I add more exercises to bodybuild with.
And the results of over six years of training?
I have gained almost 40lbs of bodyweight in total since I started but currently, I have gained around 7 lbs of bodyweight after my last fasting stint.
My current focus is on a lot of Strongman events so being strong is on the highest priority on my list.
Hypertrophy first, strength second?
Unfortunately, the reverse goals are not true.
You can develop a great physique by lifting lighter weights.
However, a lot of bodybuilders might have realized their weakness and decided to lift heavy once in a while.
So, you will be able to see some lifters with incredible physiques that can lift a respectable amount of weight.
This is not a right or a wrong on what to do.
This is just reality that you can look strong but not be strong at the same time.
Training for strength and hypertrophy are great goals to aim for.
You can definitely train both but be mindful that it might be a short training cycle.
You should decide what is your main goal and allow the other secondary goal to supplement and help you reach your main goal.
Bodybuilding has a place in strength training.
Strength training will have a place in hypertrophy training.
You cannot go wrong with training unless you are training dangerously and without being educated.