Muscle Building Training

A Girls Guide to Muscle Hypertrophy – Building Shape and Size

We’ve all seen those girls in the gym. With perfect butts, thick legs and amazingly toned arms. If you’re in the game for aesthetics then, like many of us, these girls are absolute goals.

You might be putting in all the hours in the gym, but you’re just not getting the same results. We hear you girl, we’ve all been there. Whether you’re in a plateau or you feel like you’re missing out on the size you’re looking for, it can be frustrating.

Luckily for you female fitness fiends out there, we’ve got the answer to your woes. If size and shape is your goal, muscle hypertrophy is the key to success.

Read our guide to hypertrophy and discover how you need to be training to achieve muscle growth in all the right areas. Whether you’re looking for booty growth or toned arms, we’ve got you covered.


What is hypertrophy?

Hypertrophy is used to describe the way cells adapt to a change in your body. These changes can be a different diet, a new fitness regime or even a hormonal alteration. In the case of hypertrophy, the cells respond by increasing in size to allow better function in their new environment.


The hypertrophy process

The hypertrophy process is when the cells adapt by increasing in size. In muscle hypertrophy this occurs through a pattern of stimulation and repair.

Stimulation happens when you’re lifting weights in the gym. This contracts your muscle, puts them under strain and damages the muscle fibers. Your body then repairs these fibers, which causes muscle growth.

To help you body adapt to the strain you’ve placed it under, it replaces the damaged cells with larger, stronger ones. That’s where the bigger muscles come from.


Toned woman with muscle hypertrophy

Why do you need hypertrophy?

If you’re in the weights room, you’re probably looking for one of two things as an outcome of your workout. Strength or shape.

We hear you girl. You’re saying, “but surely if I go to the gym and smash a weight workout I can get those things?!”

You can. However just going and hitting a few sets might not be the optimal way to achieve your goals. At SMG we’re all about training smart to take us closer to our overall goals.

By opting for a hypertrophy workout, you’ll be getting shape. It’s a faster way to grow muscle to get the gains you’re looking for. Whether that’s boosting your booty, toning up your arms or crafting shapely legs, muscle hypertrophy is your best friend.

If you’re looking for strength, muscle hypertrophy training isn’t the best bet for you, girl. Science has shown that, although this type of training can improve muscle size, it can actually decrease maximal power output.

[infobox]The bottom line is, if you’re looking to create a certain type of physique, muscle hypertrophy is your best bet. If it’s strength you’re after, steer clear.[/infobox]


How to achieve muscle hypertrophy

Muscle hypertrophy can be achieved through some careful training and workout planning. If you’re not sure where to start, don’t sweat it. We’ve pooled all our knowledge and expertise to bring you a comprehensive guide on how to make some serious gains.

With muscle hypertrophy, it comes down to your rep and set patterns.

You need to be opting for high-volume reps and a medium load to get your muscles pumped up and growing at speed.

Ideally you should be doing between 10-15 reps over 3-4 sets. Reduce your rest periods to around a minute to keep the intensity high and increase your muscle growing potential.

To keep your progress on the up, you also need to keep challenging your body. If you start to feel a weight is too easy for you, it’s time to up the number, otherwise you’ll start to plateau.

You should also look to focus in on compound movements, along with a selection of isolation movements too. By drilling your squats, deadlifts and bench you’ll be working more muscle simultaneously, for an aesthetic final look.

[infobox]Tip: 10-15 reps over 3-4 sets should be enough to achieve muscle hypertrophy[/infobox]


woman with strong arms and muscle hypertrophy

Muscle hypertrophy workout

To help you achieve your dreams of aesthetic muscle, we’ve got a range of hypertrophy workouts for you to check out. Each one focusses in on a different area of your body, so you have everything you need to create the shape you’re after. Take a look at these and transform your physique the smart way.


Legs hypertrophy workout

Grow thicker, swooping quads and perfect defined hamstrings with this legs hypertrophy workout. We’ve developed this one to be your go-to workout if you’re trying to firm up your legs and create some shape.

Front squat – 4 sets of 10 reps

Leg extension – 3 sets of 15 reps

Good mornings – 4 sets of 12 reps

Leg press – 3 sets of 15 reps

Hack squat – 4 sets of 12 reps

Tip: Remember to keep your rest periods short to maintain the intensity.


Booty hypertrophy workout

We know a lot of girls out there are here to build the perfect booty. You want it perky, peachy and rounded – we hear you. We’ve got you covered with a hypertrophy butt workout that will help you achieve some Instagram-worthy peach gains.

Back squat – 3 sets of 15 reps

Split squat – 3 sets of 12 reps each leg

Hip thrust – 3 sets of 15 reps

Landmine deadlift – 3 sets of 15 reps

Weighted hyper extension – 3 sets of 15 reps


Back hypertrophy workout

Take your back game up a notch with this fiyah hypertrophy workout. Your back won’t know what’s hit it, and you’ll soon be able to see that coveted definition. Absolute goals, girl.

Deadlift – 3 sets of 12 reps

Bent over rows – 3 sets of 15 reps

Lat pull downs – 4 sets of 12 reps

Seated cable row – 4 sets of 15 reps

Pull ups – 4 sets of 12 reps (assisted if you can’t do a full one)


Shoulders and arms hypertrophy workout

Get your toning on and craft enviable arm definition with this shoulder and arms hypertrophy workout. From your triceps to your biceps, we’ve covered all areas of the arm for an all-round burner that will give you results.

Bench press – 4 sets of 12 reps

Shoulder press – 4 sets of 12 reps

Bicep curl – 4 sets of 12 reps each arm

Skull crushers – 3 sets of 15 reps

Lateral raises – 4 sets of 12 reps

Tricep pushdown – 3 sets of 15 reps


woman with big butt from hypertrophy workout

Tips to maximize your hypertrophy workout

If you’ve got the workouts down, your next move is to make sure you’re maximizing the gains you’re making. We’ve got a few tips that will help you make the most of every movement and keep your progress going up.


Carb up.

These workouts are high-volume, high-intensity and pretty damn exhausting. To get the most out of each session you need to fuel up on carbs. Carbohydrates give your body the energy to push right to the limits. Without it, you might not have it in you to get to the end of your set.


Plan your protein.

Nutrition is key to building muscle and protein is the most important macronutrient to support muscle growth. To maximize muscle growth from your hypertrophy workouts, we recommend you have some protein and carbs before you head to the gym. This will help to optimize protein synthesis. Then, after you’ve finished working out make the most of your anabolic window and take another portion of protein between 30-60 minutes after you’ve finished.


Get plenty of rest.

Muscle repair takes place when your body is resting. With that in mind it’s imperative that you get plenty of rest every night to give your body the time it needs to recover and grow muscle. Between 7-8 hours a night is perfect for repair.


Eat enough.

Growing muscle takes energy, so you need to ensure your body has enough fuel in the tank to maximize growth. If you’re cutting, you’ll find it much harder to develop muscle, so try to up your food intake to keep the gains flowing. You could also add a pre-workout into the mix to really take it up a gear.

Best pre-workouts for women 2021


Train regularly.

We recommend you train at least three times a week to keep you body working hard and growing muscle. You can train more often as your body adapts to this kind of exercise, but don’t overdo it. A rest day is key to helping your recover, repair and grow muscle. At the most, aim for three days on, one day off.


Choose the right weights.

It’s key you get the right weight for the best results in this kind of workout. Too light and you won’t feel the benefit, too heavy and you won’t be able to finish the optimum number of reps. Test out a few options to start with to find the best one for your workout. A good rule is to find a weight where you feel like you could only do one more rep when you get to the end of your set.


Now you’re a pro on all things muscle hypertrophy, it’s time to take that knowledge to the weights room. Put these workouts and top tips into action and you’ll soon be the envy of every other girl in the gym.

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    1. Hey Alida,

      Once a week for each group should be enough with these muscle group splits.

      Hope that helps!


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