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I began watching fitness videos at the age of 12 and started going to my school gym with the varsity team at the age of 15 knowing nothing about the gym and seeing big men screaming and shouting sounded scary at that age but after an experience in the field, I understood that these big men are called Powerlifter. 

The squat, bench press, and deadlift are the three events that make up the sport of powerlifting, emphasizing both relative and absolute maximum strength. Powerlifting currently includes two separate categories: classic, also known as raw, and equipped.

The three main pieces of personal equipment that are allowed in the classic powerlifting division of the International Powerlifting Federation are a lifting belt, knee sleeves, and wrist wraps. However, competitors are allowed to wear squat suits, knee wraps, bench shirts, and deadlift suits in the equipped division. In some of the other federations, the usage of knee wraps is permissible for raw lifting and is noted when establishing statistics.

The 2012 World Cup Classic Powerlifting Championships in Stockholm, Sweden, served as the first international classic powerlifting competition officially recognized by the IPF.

Hypertrophy Process

During the early phases of resistance training, muscular hypertrophy is almost absent in untrained people, with neural changes accounting for the majority of strength gains. Nevertheless, after a few months of exercise, hypertrophy starts to take over, with upper extremities showing greater hypertrophy than lower ones. The hypertrophic response is highly affected by genetic background, age, gender, and other variables, which affect both the rate and the overall quantity of growth in lean muscle mass.

Types of Muscle Hypertrophy

Types of Muscle Hypertrophy

1. Satellite Cells and Muscle Hypertrophy

Since muscle is a post-mitotic tissue, its level of cell renewal is minimal throughout a person’s lifespan. It is believed that the activity of satellite cells, which are found inside the muscular tissue, causes hypertrophy. These “myogenic stem cells” are ordinarily dormant but become active when skeletal muscle is subjected to a strong enough mechanical stress. Once stimulated, satellite cells multiply and eventually fuse with other cells or with one another to produce new myofibers, leading to the creation of muscles.

2. Hormonal and Body Mediator’s Effect 

The hypertrophic response involves hormones and cytokines (which are inflammatory markers in the body) both act as upstream regulators of anabolic (building) processes. The likelihood of receptor connections is increased by higher anabolic hormone concentrations, which promote protein metabolism and subsequent muscle growth.

Many are also involved in the proliferation and differentiation of satellite cells and may even make it easier for satellite cells to attach to damaged fibers to help repair muscles. It is important to take professional advice before initiating any type of hormonal therapy as it can have severe side effects on the body.

  • Insulin-Like Growth Factor (ILGF) is frequently referred to as the most significant anabolic hormone in mammals. It has heightened effects in response to mechanical stimulation and is believed to provide the primary anabolic response for the body, activating the hypertrophy effect.
  • Testosterone is produced from cholesterol and has a significant anabolic effect on muscle tissue. In addition to its effects on muscle, testosterone can also repair nerves, expand cell body size, and interact with receptors on neurons to promote the release of neurotransmitters.
  • Growth Hormone is thought to have both anabolic and catabolic (breakdown) effects. In particular, GH serves as a repartitioning agent to stimulate cellular absorption and integration of amino acids into different proteins, including muscle, and drive fat metabolism toward the mobilization of triglycerides.

3. Cell Swelling

During exercise, cellular swelling occurs. It is well known to mimic anabolic processes by boosting protein synthesis and reducing proteolysis. Increased pressure against the membrane may be perceived as a threat to the cell, which in turn prompts the cell to modify its ultrastructure resulting in hypertrophy. 

4. Hypoxia

Muscle hypertrophy has been demonstrated to increase in response to hypoxia, with effects perceptible even in the absence of activity. According to Takarada et al., two daily bouts of vascular occlusion considerably slowed the progression of muscle atrophy in a group of patients who were required to remain in bed. Exercise and hypoxia appear to enhance one other’s effects on hypertrophy.

5. Exercise-induced Hypertrophy 

In the fitness community, the saying “lift big, get big” is commonly known, but is it true?

It is believed that mechanically generated tension caused by force and stretch is necessary for muscle growth, and the combination of these stimuli seems to have a noticeable cumulative effect. Mechanical overload, in particular, boosts muscle mass. It is thought that tension from resistance exercise disrupts the integrity of skeletal muscle by triggering the muscle cells and activating upstream signaling events involving growth factors, cytokines, and stretch-activated channels.

Although muscle hypertrophy can be caused by mechanical tension alone, it is doubtful that this is the only factor. Hypertrophic improvements for muscular growth required a lot of diet adherence and lifestyle modification.

Also Read: Cardio for Powerlifters

Does Powerlifting Cause Muscle Growth?

Does Powerlifting Cause Muscle Growth?

Many aspiring powerlifters worry if they are adding muscle because powerlifting is considered a strength sport while bodybuilding is known as a sport that builds muscle. But that doesn’t imply powerlifting can’t help you gain any muscle at all.

It is a common misconception in the fitness community that someone who focuses on powerlifting will not be able to build muscle or change their physical appearance. If you finished a 12-week powerlifting program with bigger muscles but no change in strength, you’d consider it a failure. However, it would be considered a successful program if you ran a program that helped you increase your strength even if you didn’t notice any changes in muscle size.

You will find programs designed for powerlifting that do not optimize muscle growth since the fundamental held within powerlifting is that strength is the most significant variable of change. Why would you do extra work if you didn’t have to? 

As a result, many powerlifters stick to methods that increase strength while ignoring muscle growth. The fact that your main motivation for lifting is to gain strength does not imply that muscle growth does not take place or is not possible.

The truth is that because the body needs muscle to help it lift heavier weights more effectively, it does adapt to the stress caused by doing so. Although it is also true that powerlifting is not ideal for muscle growth, muscle growth, and strength building are not two different things. We do not live in a vacuum, and you can balance the two according to your priorities (Schoenfeld et al., 2021).

A study done by Kubo et al showed that following three distinct rep scheme protocols (4 repetitions, 8 reps, and 12 reps), changes in muscle volume and 1 rep maximum revealed that all three produced muscular growth. The sole distinction was that individuals who performed 12 reps did not increase their 1-rep maximum. And all of that indicated an increase in muscle mass.

Furthermore, a recent study discovered a high link between 1 rep max and muscle size as determined by three independent methodologies. This supports the idea that if you want to increase your strength, you should probably take into account the fact that having more muscle is linked to greater strength.

Therefore, in summary, powerlifting training programs usually aim to increase strength and focus on low repetitions will for sure add muscle volume and hypertrophy. However, at some point, this program will reach its optimal level where you no longer see a further increase in strength and hypertrophy.

To raise your level you need to modify your program and build more muscles by following a hypertrophy program focusing more on moderate weight and repetitions of 8-12, such a program will help you increase muscle size at a faster rate with less focus on strength. Once an increase in muscle volume occurs the muscle fibers will now endure a higher load and you will be able to be back to focus on strength-building programs that include heavy weights and a low repetition range of 1-5. 

To conclude, a mix of hypertrophy and strength-building programs will allow you to reach your ultimate goal. 

Powerlifting FAQs Sections: 

Q: What is Powerlifting?

Powerlifting is a sport based on maximal strength in the squat, bench press, and deadlift. Members aim to maximize the weight they lift in these three lifts while fitting into the weight class of their choice.

Q: What are the essential components of the hypertrophy of muscles?

Mechanically induced tension produced both by force generation and stretch is considered essential to muscle growth, and the combination of these stimuli appears to have a pronounced additive effect.

Q: Does powerlifting build muscles?

It’s a common false belief within the fitness world that someone who focuses on powerlifting won’t be able to build muscle and change their physique. The truth is that the body does adapt to the stress created by lifting heavy weights because it needs muscle to help it be more efficient at lifting.

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