Hypertrophy Cycles for Athletic Performance

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Hypertrophy Cycles for Athletic Performance

Hypertrophy Cycles are important for all athletes. If they want to get faster and stronger, then adding some muscle size is the way to do it. If they want to have less risk of injury on the field of play, then they need to add some muscle. To most strength and conditioning coaches this seems very logical, but for a lot of parents and athletes the concept of hypertrophy scares them.

Parents tell me all the time to focus on speed, but please don’t add a lot of muscle. They are convinced that adding muscle will make their athlete slow and bulky. This statement absolutely drives me crazy.

Here’s a pic of Barry Sanders:

Here’s a pic of Olympic Sprinter Tianna Maddison:

Tianna Madison of the U.S. competes in her women’s 4x100m relay heat during the London 2012 Olympic Games at the Olympic Stadium August 9, 2012. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson

Check out Asafa Powell:

Mash Elite’s own Cade Carney:

What’s the one common trait? All four athletes are jacked. Now was Barry Sanders slow? No he was the greatest running back of all-time. Obviously the track athletes are the fastest humans on earth. Cade started at running back for Wake Forest University as a freshman and led the team in touchdowns. I think that we can now all agree that lean muscle doesn’t make you slower. It actually makes you faster.

I am convinced that most parents are talking about getting fat when they say “bulking up”. I totally agree with them. A lot of football players will make the mistake of getting fat because they want to gain weight. This is a terrible mistake, and this will slow you down.

However it is not the strength program that causes one to gain fat. You get fat by the type and amount of food that you are consuming. When parents are telling me not to make their young athlete fat, they need to look themselves in the mirror. They are the ones feeding the athlete.

90% of the time when the parents are telling me this nonsense of bulking up, they are referring to their skinny child. I have had the parents of soccer playing females telling me to focus on speed and not weight training. Here’s what I feel like saying: “Number one that’s an oxymoron. Number two, your daughter is 90 pounds soaking wet. She’s going to get killed.”

If you are a parent, you really need to do your research. Please don’t just listen to one of your buddies, and then think that you understand how to make your child a better athlete. I want you to look at the picture of Tianna Maddison. She is jacked. She is also faster than your daughter. The thing is that most of the kids couldn’t gain that amount of muscle no matter what. The genetics aren’t there, so stop worrying. If I can add 2-3 pounds of muscle, then I am happy.

OK I don’t want this to seem like one long rant, but I needed to make a point. Now let’s get into what needs to happen. Each year all athletes should go through phases of adding quality muscle mass. Adding muscle size is the quickest way to get stronger and faster. The key is to add lean muscle mass. That means you don’t want to add more fat than you are muscle.

You want to eat enough calories as not to be in a deficit, which means you want to eat slightly more than you are burning. You can’t get bigger by eating the same amount of calories needed to sustain your current muscle mass. You also want quality macronutrients. That means you want to eat quality lean meats, fruits, vegetable, and healthy fats. You should stay away from junk food and processed foods. We are tying to get you jacked no fat.

The other important aspect to consider is mobility during the hypertrophy phase. You want to add pliable muscle mass. If you start bodybuilding without stretching, you might get slower and stiff from the big rigid muscle mass. However as long as you are stretching and more importantly performing your sport, your new muscle mass will move just like before or better. Now you are faster than ever, and you can jump higher than ever.

Here’s the simply key:

1. Add 2-5 pounds of lean muscle mass per year.
2. Focus on getting stronger so the new muscle mass is functional.
3. Focus on relative strength or body weight movements, so the new muscle mass moves your body better than before.
4. Focus on mobility and stretching to keep the new muscle mass pliable and also functional.
5. Practice your sport; so the new muscle mass can perform the movements required of your individual sports.

If you follow these keys, a hypertrophy cycle will be very beneficial. You will gain muscle mass, get faster, get stronger, and jump higher. Here are some tips for developing a hypertrophy cycle:

1. Stick to the big lifts that recruit the most fibers like squat, bench, rows, strict presses, RDLs, etc.

2. Stick with rep and set ranges of 5 x 10, 10 x 3, or somewhere in between.

3. Vary those rep and set ranges in the same week like this:

Back Squat 5×10 at around 65% to start
RDLs 4 x 8 at around 68% to start

Bench Press 5 x 10 at around 65% to start
Bentover Rows 5 x 10 at around 65% to start


Front Squat 10×3 at around 80-85% to start
Glute Ham Raises 4 x 8

Strict Press 10×3 at around 80-85% to start
DB Rows 4 x 8ea arm

This is not exactly what I would do. I would add one or two other assistance exercises based on the athletes weaknesses or imbalances, but this is a great starting place. Waving the reps and intensities will help to create bigger and stronger muscles.

Hypertrophy is created in three different ways:

1. Mechanical load- go heavier over time
2. Metabolic stress- basically the pump one gets when performing high reps.
3. Muscle Damage- muscle damage is caused from heavy eccentric loading especially a stretched muscle under tension like RDLs and changing things ups forcing adaptation.

A little workout like I outlined above will do the trick by focusing on all three of the mechanisms for hypertrophy. I hope that this article has informed you about the importance gaining quality muscle size for field athletes. If you want to get them faster and stronger, then add in some hypertrophy cycles throughout the year. If you want to keep them safer on the field, then help them add some quality muscle size.

Remember we are nine days away from launching “MashJacked: Hypertrophy to Improve all Sport” and “Train Stupid: Philosophy and Program of Nathan Damron”. These drop Friday April 21st! Until then, check out my latest E-Book “Mash Method” for FREE! Check it out now at: https://www.mashelite.com/mashmethod
This book has several of the techniques that I used to set personal records and world records along with some of my latest techniques that I’m using to get my athletes and me hitting all-time numbers.
-wave training
-bands and chains contrasted with straight weight
-walk outs
-partials contrasted with full ROM
-Squats for vertical leap -Sled drags to set PR 40 yd dash times
And more!


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