Today’s Blog is written by PTI Diploma Graduate Saul McMichael of Tailored Aesthetics (Check out their links below). Enjoy the read Guys.
Are you a Grower and not a Shower?
This may be your go to excuse in the bedroom, but in the world of bodybuilding that wont cut it!
Are you one of those people who’s muscles are thick and full all day long? Or are you the “King of
Pump?”, filling out during training and at best, holding that size for around 30 minutes, then back
to Spongebob arms by the time you get home?
I can assume most people reading this will be the latter, and I include myself in this category. I
can gain up to 3 inches on my arms within a 30 minute arm session, then lose it by the time I get
my phone out of my pocket for a quick pic in the mirror….
It all comes down to an imbalance in training style, or in technical terms it all comes down to
Sarcoplasmic Vs Myofibrillar hypertrophy.
It sounds complicated, but it’s pretty simple when explained.
Firstly, the term Hypertrophy simply refers to the act of gaining muscle through training. When a
muscle is subjected to specific weight/rep ranges it will hypertrophy in different ways, and that’s
where the terms Sarcoplasmic and Myofibrillar come into play.
Sarcoplasmic Hypertrophy is when a muscle adapts by filling itself with more and more fluid each
time you train in a high rep range. Most people refer to this as “Volume Training”.
I won’t get into the hard science behind it, but essentially the muscle goes through this train of
Why’s he working me so much? 10 reps was ages ago!!
15 reps?? what’s going on?? I’ve no more Glycogen left!! (glycogen is the muscle’s fuel source
acquired from glucose in the blood stream)
Gonna have to give it everything just to finish these reps!!!
20 reps!!!! oh he’s done….phew
He may start that again any second! Better refuel quickly by drawing more glycogen in from the
FFS he’s at it again, before I even had time to finish refuelling…. 20 reps again mate?… aye
This may happen all the time, I’m gonna have to prepare for next time…
And prepare is exactly what the muscle does!
After repeated sessions of this kind of training, you force your subconscious to doomsday prep!
By this I mean, it’s paranoid…big time.. Your muscle doesn’t understand that this is all intentional,
it just goes into survival mode and gets ready.
The muscle starts to expect this type of incoming stress and quickly comes to the conclusion, “I
ran out of fuel 10 reps too early last session, this time I’ll flood myself with glycogen as soon as he
starts training… I’ll show em!”
And this flooding of glycogen is the “pump” you get while training, that massive swelling that
makes you feel huge, but rarely lasts…. 🙁
The more you stick to this type of training, the bigger your pump will become, but your “out of the
gym” size will basically grow at a snails pace.
So what do you do to maintain size in and out of the gym? …I thought you’d never ask.
Myofibrillar hypertrophy is the answer, and I wish I spent as much time training this way as I did
“chasing the pump”.
Simply, this style of training focuses on heavier weight and lower reps, though not below 6 reps
per set, this would be straying too much into pure strength training which recruits more of a
neurological response, rather than an actual increase in muscle tissue (hypertrophy).
Training with this intensity causes the muscle to go through this train of thought:
Are you joking??? I can’t lift that!!!!
I’d better recruit as many muscle fibers as possible to handle this intensity
You stopped at 6 to 10 reps?? Ok, just gimme a minute to think this through
Ok, hes putting me under a LOT of intensity, but it wasn’t for too long. I’ve got it! I’ll flood the
muscle with glycogen like the last style of training, it worked last time…
No wait… fuel isn’t the issue… it’s the sheer amount of weight I’m being put under
Simple… I’ll create more muscle fibers just in case!
And create more muscle fiber it does!
Raw muscle fiber doesn’t require a pump to show, it’s there all the time. It’s not as quick to show,
but eventually you will be a walking bag of mature, thick muscle, in and out of the gym.
It all comes down to what you want. Do you want quick results? Do you go to the gym solely to
post gym selfies for Facebook? Then stick to Sarcoplasmic Hypertrophy (high rep volume
Are you playing the long game and consider dense muscle and functional strength as important
as sheer aesthetics? Then Myofibrillar Hypertrophy (low rep/high weight) training is the clear
choice for you.
Alternatively, if you want to train smart and flourish in both areas of training, then do so, train in
both styles, mix things up!! Don’t just stick to volume because it’s easier and more superficial.
You can do this in several different ways through Training Periodisation, but that’s an article in
I hope this answered a few questions people had and maybe shine some light on why you may
have plateaued with your gains.
Sarcoplasmic hypertrophy also creates muscle fibers, and on the flip side, Myofibrillar hypertrophy
also teaches the muscle to hold more glycogen, but at a much lower rate in both cases.