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Understanding the difference between strength training and hypertrophy training

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  • Understanding the difference between strength training and hypertrophy training

    I'm a hypertrophy-focused trainee with the goal of glute hypertrophy accompanied by minimal quad hypertrophy. At the moment, I do 12 sets of RDLs a week with no squatting. I am contemplating adding 4-6 sets of machine split squats each week, but I am very hesitant to ever titrate that volume up to the point where the hinge:squat ration is worse than 2:1, because I badly want to avoid big legs.

    In light of this, which statement is more true:

    A: This addition of modest squat volume is a good idea. With regards to hypertrophy training, the most important thing is to over time increase the deformational forces acting on the muscle fibers in the glutes, often labelled mechano growth factors or mechanical tension. The proposed increase in squat volume could work as a part of the steady upward titration of this stimulus. Although 4-6 sets will likely not be enough to get me much stronger in this particular movement pattern, the glutes will still grow as a result of this increase in week-to-week mechanical tension, so long as the RDL volume remains constant and other conditions for growth are met.

    B: This addition of modest squat volume is a bad idea. You are not willing to do enough volume to progress on this movement pattern. Since you are split squatting 100 poundsx4 sets today and will be split squatting 100 pounds times 4 sets one year from now, the muscle fibers responsible for executing the movement pattern will not be called upon to adapt. Any improvement in glute CSA that occurs over the course of this year will be attributable to progress made on RDLs.

    Bonus question: What do you think of smith kneeling squats as a way for trainees interested in keeping quads small to work the glutes from a flexed-knee position, ensuring that the hamstrings do not dominate the movement? Would you say that the main difference between a squat and a hinge pattern with respect to the stress placed on the glutes is the fact that the knee is flexed to prevent hamstring elongation in squats?

    As always, thank you for this very valuable free service.


  • #2
    Neither of those statements are true enough for me to sign off on.

    While I'm surprised by the goal of max glute hypertrophy with minimal quad hypertrophy and the consideration of a hinge:squat ratio , I think RDL's, SLDL's, good mornings, GHR's, hip thrusts, and variations of those exercises easily fit that criteria.

    I think kneeling squats in a smith machine are a poor exercise choice for most folks given that there are plenty of other options that offer better training outcomes for the same amount of fatigue or less.

    To be clear, I don't think you can build a bigger butt without bigger legs. Sorry dude.
    Barbell Medicine "With you from bench to bedside"
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    • #3
      I mean I'm not trying to say that they won't get bigger AT ALL, I'm just trying to keep the growth ratio from being out of control, as it was in the days when I did an equal amount of squats and DLs.

      Can you clarify what you mean by that last sentence? Surely you aren't saying that someone who takes their RDL from 225x10 to 405x10 will typically accomplish this without ANY change in glute CSA whatsoever? Or are you counting hamstring growth as "bigger legs"?

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      • #4
        also, if you don't mind another follow up: is statement A primarily wrong because I messed up the explanation of mechanical tension? Or is it still not worthy of endorsement even without the second sentence?

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        • #5
          Originally posted by Evanther View Post
          I mean I'm not trying to say that they won't get bigger AT ALL, I'm just trying to keep the growth ratio from being out of control, as it was in the days when I did an equal amount of squats and DLs.
          The quads contain more muscle mass than the hamstrings or glutes, so they're going to be bigger. I have a hard time believing your quads got too big, though admittedly this is subjective and genetics sometimes to be like that.

          Originally posted by Evanther View Post
          Can you clarify what you mean by that last sentence? Surely you aren't saying that someone who takes their RDL from 225x10 to 405x10 will typically accomplish this without ANY change in glute CSA whatsoever? Or are you counting hamstring growth as "bigger legs"?
          Hamstring growth certainly produces an increase in muscle CSA. Since I didn't say anything about RDL's not increasing glute CSA, I am not sure what you're referring to.
          Barbell Medicine "With you from bench to bedside"
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          • #6
            Originally posted by Evanther View Post
            also, if you don't mind another follow up: is statement A primarily wrong because I messed up the explanation of mechanical tension? Or is it still not worthy of endorsement even without the second sentence?
            The whole of it. In the bodybuilding template PDF and our research review from April 2020 covers the mechanisms of muscle hypertrophy in depth.
            Barbell Medicine "With you from bench to bedside"
            ///Website /// Instagram /// Peri™ Rx /// Whey Rx /// Barbell Medicine Podcast/// Newsletter /// Seminars ///

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