Hypertrophy and Strength Development

There are two types of Hypertrophy (muscle growth):
Sarcoplasmic – (increase of sarcoplasmic fluid)
Myofibrillar – (increase in contractile proteins)
– Think Olympic Lift vs. Body Builder, respectively.

There are many factors which lead to greater Strength including; neural recruitment, firing rate and muscular coordination within a group of muscle fibres as well as coordination between adjacent muscle groups (just to name a few – others include the balance of certain hormones like Testosterone etc.…).

  • Ok now, Stay Focused –

In order to develop Strength and Hypertrophy you are require to ‘desensitize certain protective mechanisms’ – this means  purposefully pushing to failure/fatigue.

However, in this Program which focuses on Primal Movement Patterns, one must be ever mindful of their posture and technique.

There are many ways to go about this – Some methods are better at developing strength, and other methods better for developing growth.

The Program I will be introducing will strike a balance between Strength and Growth.

But before that,

Here are four tried and true methods for developing Strength and Hypertrophy:


  • Bulgarian system : min variety / frequent max efforts
    1. 2-3 workouts/day – working up to 92-97% every workout.


  • Pavel Tsatsouline’s ‘Grease the Groove’ : Min Variety / infrequent max efforts
    1. Takes advantage of the body’s natural way of learning (see Hebbian Theory)
    2. Specificity + Intensity + frequent practice =  Success
    3. grease the groove @ 70-85% + 1-2/weeks 90% technique max


  • West Side ‘Conjugate Method’ : high variety / frequent max efforts [Louie Simmons]
    1. Muscle Mass &Strength; 20% maxing : 80% hypertrophy assistance –
    2. testing 3 core lifts alternating every 6-10 weeks – maxing ever 1-2 weeks on a diff exercise


  • Strength/Power/Muscle Building : high variety / infrequent max efforts
    1. 3-6rep max efforts


*See end for a program that cycles these 4 methods*



– The Strength/Power/Muscle Building method.

This program was inspired by a Christian Thibaudeau Push/Pull Split Program, but has been re-designed to maximize Strength and Power, as well as to promote Hypertrophy within Primal Movement Patterns.

Push/pull split 6 day cycle.

  • High Variety
  • Medium frequency (6 workouts / week)
  • Infrequent Max efforts (4-6reps/set)
  • Maximum Intensity (required for ALL of training methods).

4 movements per workout:

  • Two pushing exercises / Two pulling exercises
  • Two Upper Body exercises / Two Lower Body exercises

Three sets per exercise:

  • Two sets of moderate intensity to get ready,
  • One hard set. ‘to failure’

Use Special Techniques to ‘purposefully fail’ – and ‘desensitize’ those protective mechanisms – on the final set of each exercise see below:
(Cluster / Eccentric / Ladder).

> The key to starting muscular growth is to create a difference between protein synthesis and protein breakdown (building muscle vs. mobilizing amino acids from muscles for energy).

However, the more volume you do the more protein you break down, – and the more time you spend ‘breaking down’ protein, the more time it takes to build the muscle back up (synthesis).

> You simply cannot do a high volume of work per session, if you also have a high frequency of training.

So, to maximize growth at this 6 sessions a week frequency, one must minimize the duration of their workouts to 30-45 minutes at most.



Pulling Exercises Pushing Exercises
Upper Body

  • Pullup
  • Chin up
  • Ab wheel / Roll out
  • Row
Upper Body

  • Bench
  • OH Press
  • Close Grip Push up
  • Crawl / Inch Worm
Lower Body

  • Good Morning
  • Deadlift
  • Swing
  • Broad Jump
  • Single Leg
Lower Body

  • Squat
  • High Jump
  • Single Leg / Split Squat
  • Push Press/Jerk
  • Loaded Carry




There are only two preparation sets for each exercise.


This is when you get in touch with the weight and decide what weight you’ll use for the working set(s).


Gets some blood pumping into the muscles and increase the mind-muscle connection by going slow and practicing control in both directions of the movement.

Use weights close to the working set – or use the same weight with fewer reps.

Try to keep your intensity / tension levels around 70% – saving energy and mentally preparing for your upcoming 100% intensity sets.



Special Techniques – only on third and final set of each exercise:


1 – Cluster

  • Pick a weight you can do around 4-6 reps with.
  • Do your 4-6 hard reps,
    • rest 10-15 seconds, +2-3 reps,
      • rest 10-15 seconds, +1-2 reps.
  • Always use the same weight.
  • You only do one set of this special technique/method.


2 – Heavy Eccentric (mTor activation)

Controlling the eccentric portion of the lift, and loaded stretching are two ways to increase mTor activation. (WTF is mTor? – see below)

  • Lower the weight for 8seconds, tensing as hard as possible at all times.
  • Hold the full stretch position for 5 seconds per rep.
  • Move as FAST as possible on the way up
  • Do 4-6 reps like this, and on the last rep hold the stretch position for as long as you can tolerate.
  • Again, you only do one set of this special technique/method.


3 – Ladder: decrease weight, increase reps

  • Start the set with a weight you can lift for 6 reps.
  • Drop the weight down by 25-40% and do 8 reps with that new weight.
  • Drop another 25-40% and perform 10 more reps.
  • Rest as little as possible between the parts of the drop set.
  • Only perform one set of this special technique/method.


The Program

*(After the WARMUP SETS)*

Monday – Workout A1

  1. Deadlift –  Cluster
  2. Ab Wheel – Cluster
  3. Hike Swings – Ladder
  4. Chin Up – Eccentric


Tuesday – Workout B1

  1. Squat – cluster
  2. Bench – cluster
  3. OH Press – ladder
  4. Farmers Carry – eccentric



Wednesday – Workout A2

  1. Good morning – cluster
  2. Pullup  – ladder
  3. Body Row – eccentric
  4. KB Cleans – ladder

Thursday – Workout B2

  1. Pistol – cluster
  2. Floor Press – ladder
  3. Dip – eccentric
  4. Rack Carry – ladder
Friday – Workout A3

  1. Deadlift – ladder
  2. Pullup – cluster
  3. Snatch – ladder
  4. Pullover – eccentric
Saturday – Workout B3

  1. Squat – ladder
  2. Push up – eccentric
  3. Racked Split Squat – cluster
  4. OH Carry – ladder
Weeks 1, 2, 4, 5, 6: Survive workouts A 1-3 and B 1–3, resting only on Sundays.Week 3: ‘De-Volume’ week; good for your psyche – and your muscular development!
– reduce reps to 1-2 per set  – increase # of sets by 2 or 3  – no special techniques + rest*Alter the special techniques used as necessary*


mTOR Activators: Protein synthesis and cell growth

*aka why Heavy Eccentric training stimulates growth*

  • mTOR activation is required for myofibrillar muscle protein synthesis / hypertrophy.
  • Persistent inactivation of mTOR facilitates the loss of muscle mass and strength (like in old age), cancer cachexia, and muscle atrophy from physical inactivity.
  • mTOR activation inhibits age-related cognitive decline associated with dendritic pruning.
  • mTOR is part of the insulin pathway, and normalized function depends upon healthy cellular insulin sensitivity.
  • Usually, an elevation in circulating insulin levels causes a rapid increase in mTOR. However, as people begin to lose their normal insulin sensitivity, they also lose the ability to effectively utilize mTOR.
  • Poorly regulated mTOR pathways lead to abnormally coordinated protein synthesis and could be a symptom of a more serious condition.

The most effective ways to regulate mTOR activity:

  • Fasting
  • High intensity exercise
  • Intake of branch-chain amino acids.

This helps to improve insulin sensitivity, however nothing beats consuming an anti-inflammatory diet that is rich in phytonutrients, fruits, vegetables, healthy fats, and grass-fed animal products.

Boots the body’s natural insulin sensitivity and reduces circulating insulin levels which gives the body time to heal cell membranes, improve receptor sensitivity and detoxify waste, old proteins & free radicals. In short, Fasting allows the body to rejuvenate itself.

High intensity exercise:
Exercising (especially when fasted) creates a natural anabolic effect in the body which improves insulin signaling within muscle cells.  It ALSO produces human growth hormone (HGH).

Other Key Ideas:

  • Exercise intensity should be very high in order to overload the muscle mechanoreceptors, boost testosterone and create an anabolic drive.
  • Sessions should 5-30 minutes, 45 at most in duration – in order to keep oxidative stress levels from inflicting too much damage.
  • Oxidative stress causes the body to secrete cortisol which is catabolic in nature.

POST WORKOUT – Nutrition

  • Fast assimilating protein required directly after training.
    • Protein should have a substantial amount of the branch chain amino acid in order to:
      • Increase HGH levels
      • Promote muscle growth/recovery
      • Burn extra fat post-workout
    • The best form of protein is non-denatured grass-fed whey protein.
  • A few carbohydrates or recommended unless fat loss is a goal.

Other compounds that help modulate mTOR:

  • epigallocatechin allate (ECGC)
  • caffeine (used moderately)
  • theobromine
  • curcumin
  • resveratrol

ECGC and caffeine can be found in Green Tea.

Raw cacao or minimally processed dark chocolate contain ECGC, resveratrol and theobromine.

Turmeric is loaded with curcumin.

Resveratrol is found in the skin and seeds of grapes.

OTHER beneficial Supplements:

  • Fish Oil / Omega 3
  • BCAA’s
  • Glutamine
  • GABA
  • L-carnitine
  • Beta Alanine
  • Creatine
  • Make sure no deficiencies in Zinc, Magnesium, Calcium or Vit D.




4METHODS Cycling Approach


Prep Phase – 4-6weeks: minimal variety, moderate loading @ 70-85%

(Grease the groove) + No more than 2 weeks of 90% maximal effort


Development Phase – 9-12 weeks: high variety, frequent max efforts @ 3-5rmax

(West side)


Competitive Phase – 3-5 weeks: minimal variety, frequent max effort @ 3lifts x4-6/week



Transition Phase -2-6 weeks: high variety, minimal max effort (Power building)



If you try this program out let me know how it goes, share your results please!
If you want to be  a case study and are able to track your workouts, contact me for further details @ martincolangelo@gmail.com

All the best my friends,

Stay Strong


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