What is strength and hypertrophy?


Strength and hypertrophy, though related, represent different physical adaptations that arise from specific types of training:

  • Strength: Training for strength is primarily about increasing the ability to generate force with a muscle or group of muscles. This involves enhancing the functional capacity of the muscle fibers, but does not necessarily correlate with an increase in muscle size. Strength training enhances the neuromuscular system's efficiency and can include biomechanical improvements like better leverage and technique 1.

  • Hypertrophy: Hypertrophy training targets the increase in muscle fiber size without a direct focus on function. While larger muscles can generate more force and thus potentially increase strength, hypertrophy specifically refers to muscle size enhancement. This distinction is visible in how bodybuilders (who focus on hypertrophy) might have larger muscles than powerlifters (who focus on strength) but usually don't match the strength levels of powerlifters 1.

These concepts demonstrate that training can be targeted to prioritize strength, muscle size, or a combination of both depending on the desired outcome 2.

Strength vs Hypertrophy

Andy Galpin explains the difference between strength and hypertrophy, emphasizing that while they are related, they are not the same thing. He uses examples from powerlifting and bodybuilding to illustrate the difference between the two, and notes that while it is possible to get stronger without adding muscle, there is a strong relationship between the two.

Huberman Lab

Dr. Andy Galpin: Optimal Protocols to Build Strength & Grow Muscles | Huberman Lab Guest Series