Bundro Explains Program Design for Strength Training/Hypertrophy Training

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This topic contains 7 replies, has 5 voices, and was last updated by  bundro 1 year, 3 months ago.

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  • #163158


    Howdy! During the last Overwatch show, I commented about how Fraser was thinking incorrectly about exercise and what is best to build muscle and what is best to build strength. Since I was only in chat, it was kinda hard to explain completely, plus I didn’t want to hog chat time or show time and give long answers, so figured I’d put up a thread and explain things in a bit more detail. I’ll tag @ffstv and @missblow as well so they can see what I was talking about since I was pretty vague in the chat. I’ll just be speaking from my own education and background so that way I won’t cite sources or else this jawn would go on for too long!

    Ok, ideally for hypertrophy (increasing cross sectional diameter of a muscle fiber, ie bodybuilding/muscle building) the accepted range is between 6-15 Reps in a set (some say 6-12, some say 8-12,8-15) around moderate intensity. Many strength coaches even refer to this as the “hypertrophy range”. When I talk about moderate intensity I’m using a range of roughly 60-85% of your 1rm(1 rep max). And Fraser was right with what he was saying about how a muscle grows. It has to do with the Tension-Stress effect with Mechanical Tension and Metabolic Stress. When you increase weight on a bar you are adding more mechanical tension but lowering the metabolic stress. Removing weight increases metabolic stress but lowers mechanical tension. Through this back and forth game going on, your muscle needs to grow and adapt to what is happening. When you talk about high reps and low intensity, that is for muscular endurance (muscle or muscle group repeatedly exerting force against a resistance). High intensity low weight is strength or max strength depending on the workout. “Well that’s awesome Bundro, so that’s all that needs to happen?”…well no. It gets more complicated…why does everything need to be complicated :/

    A factor that is overlooked normally when people train is recovery time. Fraser was right, you want to beat down your muscle and part of that is not allowing your muscle high amounts of recovery time in between sets. A very generic rule for recovery or hypertrophy is a 1:1 ratio of work to rest. This puts most exercises in the 30-60 second rest range ( I generally go with 60 seconds because it creates a better hormone response). So what is recovery or max strength? 3-5 minutes…yep…5 fricken minutes on your bum just sitting there! Every year I have athletes say to me when I write a program “What am I supposed to do for 5 minutes!” and I just answer “recover!”. Now higher end athletes will need to adjust, and I do, but this is a good standard rule. I know one question a few people might be thinking is “Wait! I built muscle and I do 3 sets of 5 every day! You’re wrong Italian boy!”. First of all…words hurt. Secondly I am talking about optimally training for muscle growth or max strength. What I am saying is mostly correct on the 2 farthest ends of the spectrum. So 1-2 reps will work mostly (if not only) max strength and an insaaaannely high volume of reps will focus almost entirely on muscular endurance. Aside from that it is a very very grey area and sight differences between what works optimally. Now with me, I’m training athletes very specifically to perform their best on a certain day of the week, in a certain month, of a certain season so I am really being precise with these things. The recreational fitness dude(or dudette) can get by not training as specifically or optimally and still have good results. I generally use every style of workout when writing a program… it goes like this.

    Early pre-Season:Stability(isometrics, planks, etc)
    Pre-Season: Hypertrophy (Injury prevention,muscle building, still some stability)
    Early Season: Hypertrophy>Strength(still muscle building but moving more into the strength realm)
    In Season: Strength
    Late Season: Strength>Power(Mix of max strength and power training)
    Competitive season: Power (mostly only doing the Olympic lifts, training the central nervous system)

    So you can see how complicated it can get, and within each of those phases, there are micro-phases where each week has a different emphasis. Also, I’m an Olympic weightlifting coach and programming for that is another animal entirely! Oh well, hope I cleared up what I meant. And yes…yes….yes there is more to it but I don’t want to ramble on for pages. I literally was just stressed out about how I didn’t really explain what I was saying last night and wanted to clarify…I’m a bit of a dork when it comes to this stuff! Have a good weekend!!

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  • #163162


    Thanks for the tips, and squeezing in bits of humor in there! And yes, words do hurt if they’re solely for insulting without adding any important feedback to the conversation, which is counter-productive. Also I never knew the part about recovery time. Learned something new.

    (Also smart of you not to flood the show chat with this informative stuff that isn’t relevant to the game. Sometimes I need to re-read the rules to refresh myself on proper behavior.)



    How about how to lose fat? @bundro



    @thecvgun123 not generally something I usually have to work with. Most of the athletes I coach I worry about them actually needing MORE fat or getting enough calories per day. For both Olympic lifting and track and field some athletes need around 6000+ calories a day just to maintain body-weight. Cardio training along with free weights around 3 days per week is best. If you read my original post, the “metabolic stress” style of workout will work best if fat loss is what you’re looking for. So around a 45min workout, 3 days per week, higher volume moderate intensity and moderate recovery at around 60-90 seconds. The cardio especially at first, will be the most important part. One of the reasons many people get bored with running is because they run the same route every day and either get bored of it, or don’t really push themselves beyond what they are used to doing. Adding something like a fartlek (funny sounding work that translates to “Speed Play”) will help break up the monotony. A fartlek is just basically jogging a 10-15min warm up, then increasing your speed for around 30 seconds…2 minutes..whatever you decide. And then recover by jogging or walking for another 30 seconds or so and repeating for a set number of times. It’s called “speedplay” because it’s largely unstructured but even elite distance runners utilize it. Your heart is hugely important so even though freeweights help out tremendously, starting with some sort of cardio training is definitely necessary. The other important part (perhaps most important) is nutritional. Easiest way to work on that is to log everything you eat during the day and I mean EVERYthing. There are dozens of apps you can use to do this and most people when trying to lose weight/fat are shocked by how much they overeat and even mindlessly eat out of boredom so logging is greatly useful.



    Nice work Bundro! Thanks for the info ;)



    Thanks missblow! I hate giving incomplete answers to things I know about, and I woke up at like 7:30 today and thought “dang, I probably sounded like I was saying ‘you’re wrong because…you’re wrong’ without further explanation and I hate when people do that!



    Great write-up @bundro. So great to see a gamer with as much of, if not even more, passion for fitness and weight training than I do.

    I’ve recently started doing the 5 minute rest periods for leg days. I’ve already noticed a difference.

    • This reply was modified 1 year, 3 months ago by  lionheart21.


    Thanks @lionheart21 just make sure you recognize which lifts are more for bodybuilding and which are for strength/max strength. Those that are more for bodybuilding and hypertrophy won’t need a full recovery since they are usually only utilizing only one or a couple muscles rather than focusing on an entire group of primary movers.

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