Muscle Building for Athleticism

Hypertrophy Curriculums/Programming 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, and strength, but don’t add a lot of muscle, I don't want my kid to be slow! They are convinced that adding muscle will make their athlete slow and bulky. This statement is erroneous.

Here’s a picture of Barry Sanders:


Here’s a picture 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

What’s the one common trait? Both athletes are jacked. Now was Barry Sanders slow? No he was the greatest running back of all-time. You can look to the bigger NFL or Olympic, or even the bigger hitting baseball players are big and strong, most of them can run the bases fairly well too.

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.

95% of the time when the parents are talking to me about their kids 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 not going to happen because of the genetics. Number two, your daughter is 90 pounds soaking wet. She’s going to get killed, she needs size.

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 help put on 5-10 lbs of muscle mass over a year on your child I'm happy and your child performs better.

OK, I don’t want to beleaguer the 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 5-10 pounds of lean muscle mass per year depending on your child's growth pattern
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:

Deadlifts 5×10 at around 65% to start, maybe some jump squats to potentiate the strength/dynamic portion
RDLs 4 x 8 at around 70% to start Turkish Get Ups 4 X 5 per side maintaining perfect form

Kettle Bell Military or push presses at 5 x 8 reps at around 70% to start
Bentover, or Kettlebell Rows 5 x 10 at around 65% to start, with core work and mobility training at the end. Chins, or Pull-ups 4 X 5, working on the eccentric portion and not so much worrying about "kipping" or using bands just to get your chin up over the bar. Set the ego aside and use proper technique.

Thursday GPP, or Conditioning to have the endurance to get through the volume of the Monkey Bar Gym Strength days

Front Squat, or Back Squat 10×3 at around 80-85% to start
Glute Ham Raises

Elite FTS Good Mornings, Power wheel crawls or rollouts---Mobility training at the end

Undulating periodization/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 to the stressor put on the muscular system

A little workout like I outlined above will help you or your child 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 athletes on the mat like our BJJ players, or on any field they may be on. If you want to get them to be a more resilient, bigger(leaner) 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, coupled with Dynamic training to get them more explosive as an Athlete too.