Training Programs Designed for Muscle Hypertrophy in Bodybuilders: A Narrative Review
2. Materials and Methods
Selected Studies Description
4.3. Peak Week
4.5. Future Perspectives
Conflicts of Interest
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|Authors (year)||Participants||Design||Training Program|
|Sandoval et al. (1989) ||n = 5 (male), 25 ± 3.3 years and 3.6 (range: 1–10) years of experience in bodybuilding competitions;|
weight (kg): 82.2 ± 9.7
n = 6 (female), 27.8 ± 4.1 years and 1.7 (range: 0.75–2.5) years of experience in bodybuilding competitions;
weight (kg): 52.2 ± 3.1
|Athletes responded to questionaries’ concerning their experiences in sport and training program 24–48 h prior to contest.||Male: 5.5 days/week; 9.5 h/week; range 10–13 sets/muscular group with exception abdomen (6.7 sets) and 9–10 maximum repetitions/set with exception abdomen (26.2 repetitions/set);|
Female: 5.8 days/week; 13.8 h/week; range 13–23 sets/muscular group and 12–13 maximum repetitions/set;
60% of the men and 100% of the woman performed aerobic exercise with duration of 1.5–3 h/week and 1.5–3.6 h/week for men and women, respectively.
|Alway et al. (1992) ||n = 5 (male)|
n = 5 (female)
n = 2 (control)
Time of training:
−5.8 ± 0.5 (male)
−5.4 ± 0.7 (female)
Did not use steroids during the investigation period.
|Duration 12–24 weeks (program training).|
Frequency of training 5–6 days/weeks
Not intervention in study, only observation.
Request information by questionnaire.
Athletes were examined ≥4 weeks after their most recent competition.
|15–20 sets per exercise (chest and back).|
12–15 sets per exercise (shoulder, triceps and biceps).
|Manore et al. (1993) ||n = 1 (male)—31 years|
Stature: 171.5 cm
Weight: 95 kg (off-season)
Weight: 88.5–90 kg (pre-contest)
Did not use steroids during the investigation period.
|Case study: only observation. Information was verbally requested to follow the training program. Exercise program training consisted of 2 h of aerobic activity and 3 h of strength training/day. 4 consecutive workout days and 1 rest day. The athletes were studied for 8 weeks before his first competition of the season.||1 h/day aerobic (cycling ergometric)|
1 h/day aerobic (cycling bike)
Both in ~60% VO2max (~78% MHR).
Strength training was divided in light, medium and heavy weights. The split session in morning and evening.
Light = 4–6 sets per exercise (15 reps.)
Medium = 2–6 sets per exercise (12–20 reps.)
Heavy = 2–6 sets per exercise (6–10 reps.)
|Too et al. (1998) ||n = 1 (male)—34 years (Asian)|
Weight: 76.3 kg (off-season)
Weight: 71.6 kg (pre-contest)
Did not use steroids during the investigation period.
|His bodybuilding regimen during a 15-year period consisted of a whole body workout with heavy strength training and low repetitions. The researchers only observed. During initial monitoring (10 week) of the study the athlete decided to training with a periodized bodybuilding program that was advertised in a popular bodybuilding magazine.||10 week the training program was used, that was consisted of daily strength training sessions 4–5 h in duration 6 days/week used a split routine program (upper body on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday; lower body on Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday. Abdominal every day).|
The first 4 weeks consisted of hypertrophy (heavy resistance and lower repetition), 1-week transition phase to 4-week endurance and definition phase (lower resistance and high repetition)
|Trabelsi et al. (2012) ||n =16 (male)|
n = 9 (fasters)
24 ± 3 years
79.9 ± 5.1 kg
175 ± 5 cm
n = 7 (non-fasters)
26 ± 3 years
81.5 ± 5.4 kg
177 ± 3 cm
Both groups without mention of steroid use.
|Verified the changes that occur in body composition and markers of renal function in bodybuilders during Ramadan without intervention by the researchers. The training program consisted of workouts using exercises with free weights and machines. The primary goal of the program was to increase muscle mass (hypertrophy). They were followed for two weeks, which is the Ramadan period.||Each training session was composed of four to six exercises. Each exercise was performed in four sets with a load of 10 RM and intervals of 2–3 min between exercises and sets. The exercises were conducted first with the major muscle groups and then with the smaller muscle groups. The training intensity was increased progressively. Day 1: Quadriceps, hamstring, calves; Day 2: Back, triceps; Day 3: Shoulder; Day 4: chest, biceps. The program closely followed the principles documented by the American College of Sports Medicine.|
|Hackett et al. (2013) ||n = 127 (male)|
28.7 ± 6.3 years
177.5 ±11.8 cm
96.6 ± 7.7 kg
Not all participants were tested for drugs in competitions.
|Not intervention in study, only observation.|
The study proposed to describe training practices by competitive bodybuilders and to determine whether training practices comply with the current recommendations for muscular hypertrophy. A web-based application (Survey Monkey) was used to assess the training practices used by the bodybuilders. The URL address of the survey was made available to potential subjects through links or postings placed on various bodybuilding websites.
|Training session durations ranged between 40 and 90 min. The elite bodybuilders reported performing a 5-day split routine, averaging 60–70 min per session, and training no more than 2 muscle groups per session.|
Off-Season: 4–5 exercises per muscle group, 3–6 sets per exercise, 7–12 RM (higher loads) per set and 61 to 120 s recovery between sets.
Pre-Contest: 4–5 exercises per muscle group, 3–4 sets per exercise, 10–15 RM (lighter loads) per set and 30–60 s recovery between sets.
|Kistler et al. (2014) ||n = 1 (male)|
10 years resistance training experience.
A prior not use steroids
|Case Study: only observation.|
Information was verbally requested to follow the training program. The subject tracked his diet and exercise training throughout the study. Resistance training was performed 5 days of the week, approximately 1 to 1.5 h per day, throughout contest preparation. Each muscle group was trained twice weekly.
|1 day primarily in the 3 to 8 repetition range and the other primarily in the 8 to 15 repetition range. This quantity of resistance training was maintained throughout the preparation. During the 26-week preparation, the athlete and attempted to maintain resistance-training load. At the start of the contest preparation, two 40 min sessions of HIIT were performed per week. This HIIT generally consisted of a 30 s all-out sprint, followed by 4:30 of active jogging recovery. At the end of contest preparation, the subject performed four 60 min sessions of HIIT and two 30 min sessions of low-intensity steady-state aerobic exercise per week.|
|Robinson et al., 2015 ||21-year-old male amateur bodybuilder|
2 years resistance training experience
14 weeks prior to his first bodybuilding competition in the Men’s Physique category.
|Case Study: 14-week intervention||Four RT sessions during each week of the intervention; targeting each major muscle group on two occasions per week. Each RT consisted of 6–8 exercises performed for 8–10 repetitions and 4–5 sets.|
A combination of high intensity interval training (HIIT) and low-intensity steady-state (LISS) exercise were performed in the overnight fasted state.
|Gentil et al. (2017) ||n = 4 (male)|
n = 2 (female)
The participants make use of anabolic.
|This is an observational study. All the data were provided by the participants and their coaches after the competition. Bodybuilders and their coaches were requested to describe in detail all their practices (training, diet, nutritional supplements and pharmacological agents). When any doubt arose, competitors/coaches were directly contacted to give further details.||Each muscle group once a week with multiple sets of multi- and single-joint exercises performed to volitional fatigue. In the bulking phase, the male and female athletes performed sets of 8–12 repetitions with 2–3 min of rest between sets. In the cutting phase, the number of repetitions increased to 12–15, and the rest intervals dropped to 45–60 s. Increased the time spent in fasted cardio during cutting|
(45–60 min of cardio bicycle/treadmill at moderate intensity).
|Nasseri et al. (2015) ||n = 8 (steroids users)|
27.4 ± 2.9 years
176 ± 0.05 cm
80.5 ± 10.3 kg
n = 8 (steroids non users)
27.8 ± 2.2 years
181 ± 0.06 cm
80.8 ± 9.3 kg
|The study, as part of a clinical trial, aimed to explore how one session of resistance exercise affects the hemodynamic characteristics (i.e., HR and BP) and the levels of the muscle damage markers (i.e., CK and LDH enzymes) in professional bodybuilders who were AAS users.||Circuit resistance training session composed of 7 stations including leg press, bench press, leg extension, lat pulldown, leg curl, shoulder press and biceps curl exercises. The exercise session involved 3 sets of 8–9 repetitions at 80–85% of 1 RM. Rest intervals between sets and the stations were considered 60 and 90 s, respectively. A warm-up of 15 min was performed before the exercise, begin that 5-min jogging on treadmill (speed 7 km/h, 1.5% inclination), and a specific warm-up including two sets of the exercises, same to those performed in the training session, using 35% (15 reps) and 45% (12 reps) from 1 RM.|
|Syed-Abdul et al. (2019) ||Case study|
n = 2 (male steroids non users)
“P1”: 21 years, 82.6 kg
“P2”: 89.6 kg
|Case Study: 8 weeks prior to competition. Information was self-reported. Athletes was evaluated (food intake, body composition) pre and post 5 weeks with self-implemented carb cycle restrictive diet and exercise program.||P1: performed high-intensity [60–90 min, 75–90% of one repetition max (1 RM)] resistance training and P2: moderate-intensity (30–45 min, 60–75%1 RM) resistance training 2 h of aerobic activity and 3 h of strength training/day. Four consecutive workout days and 1 rest day.|
|Pardue et al. (2017) ||A case study with 21-year-old, amateur, drug-free male bodybuilder with eight years of|
weight training experience and one year of competitive
|Blood samples were taken approximately every three months for hormone analysis; body composition, anaerobic power, resting metabolic rate and sleep quality were assessed monthly during the pre-contest phase (8 months), followed by recovery (5 months).||Resistance training was performed 5–6 days per week. A mixture of multi- and single-joint exercises was completed with a variety of repetition ranges (4–25 repetitions) and intensities. Major muscle groups were trained at least twice per week, with ≥48 h of rest between training sessions of the same muscle group. Aerobic activity was adjusted each week based on weight loss progress. Aerobic activity consisted of moderate intensity steady state (MISS) cardiovascular exercise at 65–75% of maximal heart rate, along with sessions of high intensity interval training (HIIT) with 10–15 s bouts of maximal effort separated by 45–50 s active recovery intervals.|
|Mitchell et al. (2018) ||Male bodybuilders steroids non users (n = 9) 29.0 ± 9.5 years, 177.9 ± 2.5 cm, 83.7 ± 8.9 kg, 6.0 ± 6.6 years bodybuilding participation).||Body composition, resting metabolic rate (RMR), serum hormones, and 7-day weighed food, resistance training volume (repetitions × weight × sets) and training diaries of natural male bodybuilders (n = 9) were assessed 16 (PRE16), 8 (PRE8), and 1 (PRE1) week(s) before, and 4 (POST4) weeks after a bodybuilding competition.||Upper body volume (kg × week−1): 39,958 ± 17,232 (PRE 16); 42,368 ± 19,647 (PRE 8); 32,753 ± 14,385 (PRE 1); 37,432 ± 15,384 (POST 4);|
Lower body (kg × week−1) 42,503 ± 24,234 (PRE 16); 51,247 ± 37,997 (PRE 8); 33800 ± 33,697 (PRE 1); 41,735 ± 34,225 (POST 4);
|Schoenfeld et al. (2020) ||n = 1 (male)|
10 years resistance training experience.
A prior not use steroids (drug-tested)
|Prospective case study in a high-level amateur male bodybuilder throughout preparation for 4 competitions and during the ensuing post-contest recovery period, totaling 1 year. They analyzed the muscle thickness in 4 sites, body composition, hemodynamic characteristics (BP and HR), resting metabolic rate, vertical jump height, isometric lower body strength testing, and a 3-factor eating questionnaire. Blood collections for hormones and enzymes analysis was obtained separately from an outside laboratory at 4 time points.||Three to 7 days/per week (5–6 times per week for the majority); generally, whole-body training routines, 10–14 exercises; 1–10 sets/exercise (3–4 in the majority), 3–30 repetitions (6–15 in the majority) with higher number of repetitions generally performed only for single-joint exercises, whereas a lower number of repetitions was generally performed for multi-joint exercises; carried out to repetitions in reserve (RIR) 1, RIR 2, or RIR 3 and RIR 4 during deload sessions (25/225); 30 min of daily walks and during peak weeks, the walking duration was altered to accommodate carbloading strategies.|
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Alves, R.C.; Prestes, J.; Enes, A.; de Moraes, W.M.A.; Trindade, T.B.; de Salles, B.F.; Aragon, A.A.; Souza-Junior, T.P. Training Programs Designed for Muscle Hypertrophy in Bodybuilders: A Narrative Review. Sports 2020, 8, 149. https://doi.org/10.3390/sports8110149
Alves RC, Prestes J, Enes A, de Moraes WMA, Trindade TB, de Salles BF, Aragon AA, Souza-Junior TP. Training Programs Designed for Muscle Hypertrophy in Bodybuilders: A Narrative Review. Sports. 2020; 8(11):149. https://doi.org/10.3390/sports8110149Chicago/Turabian Style
Alves, Ragami C., Jonato Prestes, Alysson Enes, Wilson M. A. de Moraes, Thiago B. Trindade, Belmiro F. de Salles, Alan A. Aragon, and Tacito P. Souza-Junior. 2020. "Training Programs Designed for Muscle Hypertrophy in Bodybuilders: A Narrative Review" Sports 8, no. 11: 149. https://doi.org/10.3390/sports8110149