This is the most important section of the workout and should be carried out with an aim to stimulate muscle growth. The hypertrophy phase starts with the completion of your first set and ends with the completion of your last set.
The Hypertrophy Phase Duration
The hypertrophy phase should last no longer than 45 minutes. There are many reasons to complete your muscle-building exercise within this time frame. This period of 45 minutes does not include warm-up sets but comes into play, starting with your first set of muscle building. Intense training is draining on the body, and spending prolonged periods of time in the gym is unnecessary and counterproductive (1).
The body releases a powerful catabolic hormone called cortisol after 45 minutes of intense exercise, which stimulates muscle tissue breakdown for use as energy. If you want to gain and preserve muscle, then avoid the negative effects of cortisol. The longer you train as this powerful catabolic hormone circulates in the bloodstream, the greater will be its negative effects.
45 Minutes is the Optimal Time
That’s why the optimal time frame for completing this phase is 45 minutes. It’s long enough to complete all the workouts and sets, but not so long that the negative impacts of cortisol and other catabolic hormones will affect your muscle gains. As the phase of hypertrophy drifts beyond the 45 minutes mark, you will do more harm than good to yourself. Completing the hypertrophy phase within 45 minutes is not only beneficial, but it also serves mental benefits.
For the large muscle groups, perform 10 set for small muscle groups to perform 8 sets per workout. Large muscle groups are the chest, back, and thighs although thighs comprise both quadriceps and hamstrings, they are always trained together and we will consider them as one major muscle group. Small muscle groups are the shoulders, biceps, triceps, abs, calves, and forearms.
When we talk about workout volume, we should refer to the total number of muscle-building sets. You’ll perform for each specific group of muscles for each workout. You will perform 10 sets for large muscle groups and 8 sets for smaller ones anywhere using this training system. Keep in mind that this is total sets per workout, not total sets per exercise.
For example, you can perform 2 sets of bench presses, 2 sets of dumbbell presses, 2 sets of dips, 2 sets of incline bench presses, and 2 sets of incline dumbbell presses for total 10 sets if you were training chest. You would NOT perform 10 bench presses sets, 10 dumbbell presses sets, and 10 dips sets. This is total sets with all exercises combined for the entire workout. The goal is to provide the muscles with an adaptive response with a workload they never had before.