Hypertrophy Specific Training

No comments

The principles of HST or hypertrophy specific training are fairly simple. First of all I do not recommend this routine if you are not an intermediate or advanced lifter. For most people this means having a 135 lbs overhead press, 405 lbs deadlift, 315 lbs squat and 225 lbs bench press for 1 rep.


Exercise Selection

For each of the group listed below choose ONE of the exercises. Accessory exercises are kept to a minimal in favor of compound movements as they are proven to build more muscle than purely isolation exercises. Build a bigger chest with a bench not the pec dec so to speak. This is one of the protocols for HST as well.


  • Flat Barbell Bench Press
  • Incline Barbell Bench Press
  • Incline Dumbbell Bench Press
  • Flat Dumbbell Bench Press
  • Weighted Dip
  • Floor Press


  • EZ Bar Preacher Curls
  • Machine Preacher Curls
  • Barbell Curls
  • Reverse Barbell Curls (more forearm dominant)
  • Seated Incline Dumbbell Curls
  • Hammer Curl
  • Concentration Curls


  • Lying tricep extensions (skullcrushers)
  • Overhead EZ Bar tricep extensions
  • Tricep Pushdowns/Pressdowns
  • Tricep dips machine


  • Overhead Press
  • Seated(or Standing) Dumbbell Press
  • Arnold Press
  • Machine Shoulder Press


  • Barbell Back Squat
  • Barbell Front Squat
  • Barbell Zercher Squat
  • Hack Squat
  • Leg Press


  • Deadlift
  • Romanian Deadlift
  • Stiff Legged Deadlift
  • Trapbar Deadlift
  • Good Morning
  • Hamstring Curls (not recommended)

Horizontal Row:

  • Bent Over Barbell(or Dumbbell) Row
  • Pendlay Row
  • Yates Row
  • One Arm Dumbbell Row
  • Seated Cable Row
  • T-bar Row

Vertical Pull:

  • Weighted Pull ups
  • Weighted Chin ups
  • Machine-assisted chin up or pull up
  • Wide grip Lat Pulldowns

Finding your 15RM, 10RM and 5RM

In order to do HST you need to know your 15 rep max, 10 rep max and 5 rep max. Your 15 rep max is about 67% of your 1 rep max. Your 10 rep max about 75% of your 1 rep max. And your 5 rep max about 86% of your 1 rep max.

Rep Ranges

In HST the reps range as follows

  • Week 1-2: 15
  • Week 3-4: 10
  • Week 5-6: 5
  • Week 7-8: negative reps (however I recommend you do 5 reps and test for a new 5 rep max PR)
  • Week 9-10: Rest
  • Week 10+: Repeat (with new exercises if desired)

Workout Schedule

HST is a full body routine done three days a week. Monday, Wednesday and Friday as an example. The logic is you build more hypertrophy by doing three full body days than chest day, back day etc. Because you will hit chest three times in a week instead of one. It also allows for more rest and recovery than destroying a single muscle group once a week. Muscles are ready to be trained again in 48 hours. So if you are a natural lifter and go in and do 10-20 exercises for chest with numerous sets you’ll make less progress due to the volume and also because you won’t be able to recover properly. So it’s sort of a double edge sword. You can train more frequently with less volume and make more gains than with a day of chest, day of arms etc.

On your first workout you do not start off with your TRUE 10 rep max, 15 rep max or 5 rep max. Start off with 80-90% of it and progress to your true max on the final day. So someone whose 15 rep max on the bench is 150 lbs. The first workout they do around 128 lbs, second workout 135 lbs and third and final workout 150 lbs. So you’ll be increasing the poundage by approximately 11 lbs between workouts or by a percentage (ie starting with 85% of your 15 rep max, next workout 95%, and third workout 100% of your 15 rep max).

You will notice that you will be doing 10 reps of weight you did 15 reps with the previous week and likewise in the 5 rep block. This is normal in the setup of HST and is done to allow progression over the course of the cycle as well as additional recovery for muscle growth. As Dorian Yates once said if you want to toughen up your hands you rub it with sandpaper one day, let the skin heal, do it again etc until your skin is rough you don’t rub it raw everyday. The analogy here is its not wise to train at 100% all the time to allow proper muscle growth.

Rest between sets will depend on the week you are in. With 15 reps you can rest 60s or less between sets. In the 5 rep range you may require 3 minutes or more.

Example Routine

Weeks 1-2:

Monday, Wednesday, Friday:

  • Flat DB Bench 2 x 15
  • Barbell Row 2 x 15
  • Weighted Chins 2 x 15
  • Seated DB Press 2 x 15
  • Squat 2 x 15
  • Romanian Deadlift 2 x 15
  • Barbell Curl 2 x 15
  • Skullcrushers 2 x 15

Weeks 3-4:

Monday, Wednesday, Friday:

  • Flat DB Bench 2 x 10
  • Barbell Row 2 x 10
  • Weighted Chins 2 x 10
  • Seated DB Press 2 x 10
  • Squat 2 x 10
  • Romanian Deadlift 2 x 10
  • Barbell Curl 2 x 10
  • Skullcrushers 2 x 10

Weeks 5-6:

Monday, Wednesday, Friday:

  • Flat DB Bench 2 x 5
  • Barbell Row 2 x 5
  • Weighted Chins 2 x 5
  • Seated DB Press 2 x 5
  • Squat 2 x 5
  • Romanian Deadlift 2 x 5
  • Barbell Curl 2 x 5
  • Skullcrushers 2 x 5

Weeks 7-8:

Monday, Wednesday, Friday:

Test new 5RM for all exercises

  • Flat DB Bench
  • Barbell Row
  • Weighted Chins
  • Seated DB Press
  • Squat
  • Romanian Deadlift
  • Barbell Curl
  • Skullcrushers

Weeks 9-10: Rest

Weeks 10+:

Calculate new 15RM, 10RM and 5RM based on performance in weeks 7-8. And restart with 15s, onto 10s, etc.

Further Reading


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.