How often do you rotate between training blocks for hypertrophy and strength?

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Today’s Question is: How often do you rotate hypertrophy and strength blocks?

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++++++_ ANSWER ++++++_

This question actually highlights a big shift in my training in recent years – which has been to periodize my training, which is simply adding structured phases in training, which breaks up my training year into different phases.

After a certain point in your lifting journey, training for strength is becomes very different from hypertrophy training. Yes they go hand in hand, but are in essence, two side of the same coin. If you try and train for both at the same time, you’ll most likely get sub-optimal results than if you focus on one at a time.

Interestingly, muscle size only explains about 50-65% of the variability in force production, the other factors include, neural adaptations, anthropometry, skill level, psychological factors and a host of other individual characteristics.

Hypertrophy is simply the increase in size of muscle fibers.

Strength is the ability to exert force to an external load.

One of the important questions that gets raised when organizing training, is ‘Is this appropriate now?’ when you have context and a plan this questions rules out a lot of training. Once I started to structure my training, I noticed over the years, I would make much better progress. Taking this long term view in training, would mean I could be hyperspecific with my training and not worry about hitting any new strength PR’s during a hypertrophy cycle and on the other hand, not worry about how much muscle mass or weight I am gaining/losing during a strength cycle.

It was hard to find a lot of research that provided an optimal time frame for meso cycle lengths, but one study did show that it’s possible to increase lean mass or more by 5% in 9-12 weeks. With that in mind, most of the programs I see floating around and all the programs I have completed are in the 8-21 week in length, regardless of strength or hypertrophy.

So to answer the question, my hypertrophy blocks will run a little longer, on the 12-16 week time frame, and my strength blocks will run on the shorter end of the spectrum with an 8-12 week cycle. I’ve found that consistently heavy, low rep training tends to aggravate my old joints a lot more than lower weight, higher volume type stuff. So for my own personal needs, I’ve found for longevity’s sake, if I focus more on hypertrophy for slightly longer time frames, I should be able to train for more years down the road.

I also include a week of no training or really light training at least every 6 weeks and in between hypertrophy and strength blocks.

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