The Difference Between Strength Training and Hypertrophy Training

Medically Reviewed by Tyler Wheeler, MD on February 25, 2024
4 min read

If you’re looking for an exercise program, you may have heard of strength training or hypertrophy training. They have some similar qualities, but their goals are different. One focuses on building strength and the other on building muscle mass

Strength training is a popular form of exercise. It involves lifting weights or dumbbells, using weight machines, and doing bodyweight exercises. With strength training, you’re making your body stronger. The goal isn’t to lose weight, but it will happen with regular workouts. You’ll also improve your physical fitness and build muscle mass.  Resistance training is also strength training, using more bodyweight exercises and resistance bands.

With strength training, you’ll typically see a boost in strength within the first 4 weeks. This is because of the neurological system that controls your muscles. After 4 weeks, your muscles will expand, and you’ll start to see growth. 

Hypertrophy training focuses mostly on developing your muscles. You’ll focus on increasing the size of your muscle fibers, developing large muscles in areas that you work out the most. This might be places like your thighs, calves, biceps, or back.

Hypertrophy focuses more on moderate weight and moderate repetitions. You’ll have a 1-minute rest period between sets. The quicker movement is intended to induce muscle building. 

Strength training has many benefits for your health, strength, and overall well-being. 

Feel stronger. When you build muscle mass through strength training, you’re getting stronger. Your muscles can lift heavier objects, and you have more endurance. Strength training has been shown to strengthen your bones, as well. 

Osteoporosis and arthritis. Strength training boosts bone mass and bone strength. Strength training early can help prevent osteoporosis, and it can reduce the pain and complications of arthritis. 

Heart disease. By working out regularly and raising your heart rate, you’re lowering your risk of heart disease. Strength training can also help you improve your cholesterol and lower your blood pressure. 

Weight loss.Regular exercise reduces your risk of being overweight. Strength training can help you lower your body fat levels and improve your body composition. 

Mental health. Working out regularly is good for your mental health because it can help reduce stress. Strength training regularly can help lower your anxiety and reduce fatigue. It’s also linked to better self-esteem as you get stronger. 

Always talk to your doctor before you start a training program. They’ll be able to help you find the best program for you. You want to make sure that you don’t push yourself too hard and end up getting hurt. 

When you start strength training, modify exercises to your strength level. If you want to improve the weight you can lift, find a partner to spot you. Don’t push yourself so far that you feel pain. 

To prevent an injury: 

  • Warm up
  • Stretch
  • Slowly move on to heavier weights
  • Choose the right exercises for you
  • Use correct form
  • Stop if you feel pain

When starting hypertrophy training, you’ll want to make sure you eat plenty of protein. By training this way, you’re putting your muscles into hypertrophy. This means your muscles are building up more than they’re being broken down. This leads to bigger muscle gains. 

Hypertrophy training is commonly used by bodybuilders who want to reach maximum muscle size. Athletes will also use this form of training to quickly boost strength and mass. 

You’ll first see the results of hypertrophy training in the way you feel. Your upper body will probably put on muscle mass faster than your lower body. Genetics, age, and other factors play into how fast you can increase muscle mass. 

The problem with hypertrophy training is that you might expect to quickly build muscle mass. But it’s limited by your natural predisposition. Your genes will also play a role in whether you can put on large amounts of mass. Try not to get discouraged, and keep working toward your goals, even if they take longer than you expected. 

Whether you want to build a lot of muscle mass or you just want to get stronger, both training options will improve your overall health. Doing a workout for 20 to 30 minutes two or three times a week has been shown to benefit your heart health

It’ll be up to you to decide what you want to focus on in your physical health journey. You may also prefer one style over the other.