In the off-season, competitors look to put on the size they lost during their last cutting cycle.
They incorporate many training mechanisms to ensure they have a solid foundation of muscle the next time they cut. Hypertrophy specific training or HST is a scientific technique used by many competitors who want to rebuild after a gruelling season.
In order to develop stage-worthy symmetry for the next season, you must focus on bringing every muscle group in line as they grow. HST helps to build size and keep it in proportion. Fitness competitors, however, can benefit from more than just the size-building effects of this mechanism, as HST also enhances strength.
HST is a training method that has either been overlooked or simply unheard of by many weightlifters. It was originally discovered by researchers when they looked at both the stimuli and mechanisms for muscle cell hypertrophy. In doing so, they began to recognize the science behind muscle growth. The result of these findings was HST, a muscle-building program further developed by Brian Haycock.
There are many considerations to this style of training, but there are four main principles to help you understand HST.
4 Principles of HST
Chronic Loading is used rather than Acute Loading typically seen in traditional programs. With HST, body parts are not worked to failure but worked more frequently.
Chronic Loading calls for training the entire body several times in one week. Each session should be under an hour in duration.
Failure in HST occurs when proper technique deteriorates and/or you only have one or two reps left before muscular failure.
2. Mechanical Load
All muscle fiber are used when the muscles are exposed to a heavy enough load. This principle focuses on working with heavy loads in order to expose your muscles to mechanical stress. The resulting micro-trauma leads to muscle growth.
Incremental weight is added to the weights for each training day in the cycle. Increment is approximately 5% of your 5RM. After a few cycles, you can try changing the weight increments to 10% of your 5RM.
The mechanical loading must progress in a steady manner. Continuously increasing the weights we use throughout a training cycle helps avoid muscular homeostasis and promotes continuous muscle growth.
4. Strategic De-Conditioning
As a product of progression, strategic de-conditioning is the practice of taking time off to avoid plateaus. Time off should occur just prior to meeting your lifting max and should last anywhere from 9 to 16 days. If you are new to lifting, 9 to 10 days should allow for sufficient rest, but a seasoned lifter may take anywhere from 14 to 16 days to de-condition.
The constant loading of HST requires proper nutrition that will help avoid any injuries and reduce muscle recovery time. Isoflex is the perfect solution to a muscle-building program such as HST.Isoflex, a whey protein isolate, is complete with NOS and glutamine complexes that help to speed recovery following intense training. In addition to helping with recovery, Isoflex also helps stimulate lean muscle growth and provides the nutrients needed to fuel your performance.
The design of HST fits well into a fitness training program for a couple reasons. Firstly, by working within your 5RM, you are remaining within the strength-building rep range of 4 to 6 reps. Moreover, the frequency component of HST ensures you are developing muscular endurance, while focusing on muscular size.
Making HST Work for You
- Focus on compound exercises to maximize the effects of loading on as much muscle as possible per exercise. Squats, deadlifts and goodmornings are all good examples of compound exercises that recruit many muscle groups at once.
- Work mostly with compound exercises and then finish off a body part that may need a bit more work with isolation exercises.
- Supersetting opposing muscle groups will decrease the amount of time spent in the gym and keep your heart rate elevated throughout your training session.