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Muscle Building: Hypertrophy

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I just finished another round of Body Beast and since the focus of this workout is to build muscle I thought I would spend a little time sharing with you one of the keys to successful muscle growth.  It’s called muscle hypertrophy.  Muscle hypertrophy is a term for the growth and increase of the size of muscle cells.  The most common type of muscular hypertrophy is the result of weight lifting that’s common in workouts like Body Beast.  As you start to lift weights to develop a particular muscle there is first an increase in the nerve impulses that cause muscle contraction.  This alone can result in an increase in strength while there may be no noticeable change in muscle size.  However, the longer you continue to exercise that particular muscle or body part, your nervous system begins to respond to the movement and the result is an increase in protein synthesis (connecting proteins to send to muscles) over weeks or months and the muscle cells begin to grow larger and stronger.

Here are some ways that you can develop Muscle Hypertrophy and get HUGE results, Sagi Kalev calls his version of hypertrophy, Dynamic Set Training.

Progressive Set 

Countless variations are possible with progressive sets to drop sets.  For the Body Beast program a progressive set is a pyramid that goes form high reps to low reps.  Then you take a short break, usually for 90 seconds or less and then progress back up to high reps.  For example you might start with 20 lbs for 15 reps, 30 lbs for 12 reps and 40 lbs for 8 reps.  Take a 90 second break and then reverse, 40 lbs for 8 reps, 30 lbs of 12 reps and finish with 20 lbs for 8 reps.

Single Set 

During a single set exercise you will perform 1 exercise for that particular body part without performing another exercise until the next set.  For example, you might perform a single set of Chest press using 15, 12 and 8 reps back to back with little rest.

Super Set

When completing a Super Set you will perform 2 exercises in the same set with little or no rest.  For example, this time I might perform Chest Press for a set of 15 and then move right into Chest fly’s for a set of 15.  Then after a short rest you will go back to Chest press for a set of 12 and then right into Chest fly’s for a set of 12, with an increase in weight of course. 

Giant Set 

The is very similar to Super Set, but now you will perform 3 exercise movements, done back to back, that all target the same muscle group.  For example you would do Close grip Press, then right into Partial Chest Fly and finish immediately with a set of Decline push ups.  Take a short rest, drop the reps and add weight and do it all over again.

Multiple Set

This requires you to combine 3 exercises like a Giant set, but these particular exercises don’t target similar muscle groups.  For example, you would decline push-ups (Upper chest), then cobra to airplane (upper back/shoulders) and finish with Russian twist (obliques).

Force Set

This is a tough one!  You will pick 1 weight and perform 5 sets of 5, without dropping the weight and with approx. 5 to 10 seconds between sets.  For example, you might perform Wide EZ Bar curls ( I use dumbbells) with 35 lbs for 5 sets of 5 without dropping and only 5 to 10 seconds between reps.  Your muscles will be on FIRE!!!  You can almost feel them growing, LOL.

Combo Set

During a combo set you will perform 2 movements that work more than 1 muscle group.  For example, you would perform a Close grip chest press (triceps) and open up right into a fly (chest).  That would be 1 rep.

Circuit Set

This is moving from 1 exercise to another without rest.  Sagi’s circuit set workout is called Lucky 7 because you will use 7 exercises and 7 pyramids.  For example, you would perform a set of 7 push-ups right into 7 cleans right into squats.  That’s set 1.  Then you will repeat that 6 more times.  When finished with that set of 7 you have 6 more sets with a combination of moves left.  This is a full body workout and can be used if you are short on time or missed a workout.

Tempo Set

You will perform a movement and hold a contraction for a given amount of time.  For example, you might perform a chest press for 15 reps.  You will take 6 seconds to lift the weight and 6 seconds to drop the weight.  Make sure you drop the weight from your normal chest press because this is a tough workout and not desired for you to use your maximum weight during these particular exercises.

In Body Beast there are two separate Tempo workouts: Tempo Chest/Tris and Tempo Back/Bis.  These workout are great to supplement the other workouts that work the same body parts for creating hypertrophy.


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