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The Mechanisms of Muscle Hypertrophy

Hypertrophy, what do?

Most of us to want to know HOW to achieve a given outcome and thus will follow all sorts of advice (questionable and otherwise) from our most trusted instagram gods often resulting in very mixed outcomes in pursuit of a goal.

I could tell you exactly how to achieve muscle hypertrophy and outline it as one single method to rule them all but this information will likely only take you so far. It may not even work at all for some people because individual differences are a thing.

Instead, I’d like try to turn your attention to the mechanisms of action in play behind the curtain on the topic of muscle building rather than short sighted methods that leave you spinning your wheels and program hopping.

Mechanisms > methods.


Mechanism: metabolic stress

Method: 3 sets x 20 reps on the hamstring curl machine

There is nothing magic about 3x20 on the ham curl, that could simply be one way to fruit metabolic stress in the hamstrings of one individual.

Another one, this time for fat loss:

Mechanism: Energy deficit

Method: intermittent fasting, cutting out food groups, no carbs after dark, consuming only diet shakes, daily runs, swapping jobs to become a postman etc.

There is nothing magical about any of those methods, they may simply result in a person reducing their energy intake and/ or increasing their energy output.

If you know the mechanisms by which muscle growth occurs you are no longer reliant on singular methods and a world of different programming doors open to you. You can adapt your training to suit your needs, kit, schedule, preferences without being tied down to rules like ‘only sets of 13’, ‘need a cable machine’ or ‘gotta get sore af or I’m not growing’.

So, instead of asking ‘how do I do X???’ all of the time, try asking ‘why does X happen?’.

If you can’t think of an answer, it might be time to do some digging. If you don’t want to do the digging/ don’t feel capable then finding educators with integrity and expertise in certain areas may be the way to go.

Critically analyse your own training, why did you respond to one program and not another? Why did one program just make you sore and another gave you a ludicrous pump but not much else?

Bonus: If you ask your favourite fitspos ‘why’ something happens instead of how it’s becomes very clear who understands mechanisms and who just worships methods.

Hope you found this useful.

If you want to talk training with me on a regular basis and dive into applying these fundamentals to a plan that works for you check out my Training only coaching service. It's half the price of full coaching and comes with the support you need to start making leaps and bounds with your training goals.


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