Training for Hypertrophy: The Case Against Muscle Damage

This week, I was PUMPED to contribute this article to Greg Nuckols’ awesome site (I’ve been amazed by Greg’s work over the years): Training for Hypertrophy: The Case Against Muscle Damage

In this piece, I review the evidence on muscle damage. Does it really cause hypertrophy? I was surprised to find out that, after all, it probably doesn’t.

I would have been *shocked* to hear that 12 years ago, as an undergrad exercise scientist… For example:

  • Damas et al. (2018) concluded that: “muscle damage is not the process that mediates or potentiates RT-induced muscle hypertrophy.”
  • The same group (Damas et al. 2016) found that myofibrillar protein synthesis was correlated with muscle hypertrophy in beginners only after three weeks of training, when muscle damage was attenuated.
  • Flann et al. (2011) concluded that the results of their study “suggest that muscle rebuilding – for example, hypertrophy – can be initiated independent of any discernible damage to the muscle.”

More info in my article on Greg’s site: Training for Hypertrophy: The Case Against Muscle Damage.

And in this post where I update and expand on the article: Muscle hypertrophy and muscle damage: no pain, no gain?

So, if you’re working out to damage your muscles and think you’ll grow faster that way, it may be time to reconsider.

Instead, you could focus on metabolic stress. It’s an efficient way to build muscle. Especially with techniques like rest-pause, that let you build just as much (or more) muscle in half the workout time. If you’re curious to try it out, we’ve recently automated it in Dr. Muscle.

Happy reading.

Your friend in science-based natural bodybuilding,

Carl Juneau, PhD