HYPERTROPHY-SPECIFIC TRAINING
Muscular Development|January 2022
Proven Concepts Combined to Build Muscle Better
Daniel Gwartney, MD

Muscle is a tissue of the human body that can either grow or shrink in response to the environment.1 Bodybuilders take advantage of that fact by training with weights, attempting to trick the body into creating and maintaining a greater amount of muscle than is required. Weight training, especially in conjunction with a suitable diet, supplements and/or drugs, has led to the development of some grossly overmuscled bodies (depending in part on the division one competes in), yet the pursuit for further development goes on.

Weight training has progressed from very humble beginnings, evolving into diverse programs that include German Volume Training, Mike Mentzer’s High-Intensity Workout (HIT) and Hany Rambod’s FST-7. Another program that received considerable attention in the history books of bodybuilding is Hypertrophy-Specific Training (HST).

What Is HST?

Introduced by Bryan Haycock, through his website ThinkMuscle.com,2 HST is described as the first workout program scientifically designed to promote muscle growth, as opposed to being designed for increasing strength or athletic performance. HST is not designed for use by competitive athletes or powerlifters.3 Haycock states in his explanation of HST that he approached weight training from the aspect of hypertrophy (increase in size) by researching the literature on muscle cell responses to mechanical strain, rather than taking the more traditional approach of trying to reshape existing training routines.4 On first glance, HST might appear familiar, but a closer look merits revisiting Haycock’s program.

HST is yet another program that encourages low-volume training, and is based upon a full-body workout, using compound movements. Low-volume training was best heralded by the late Mike Mentzer, who brought to light the concept of maximally stimulating the muscle without overtaxing it. Several papers have discussed the equivalency of low-volume workouts with respect to stimulating muscle growth while avoiding the unnecessary breakdown that occurs with multiple sets and thereby interfering with recovery.5 By minimizing breakdown, yet still stimulating the muscle fully, maximal muscle growth should be supported, according to the theories presented.

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