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What is the Impact of Muscle Hypertrophy on Strength and Sport Performance?

Hornsby, William G., PhD1,*; Gentles, Jeremy A., PhD2,*; Haff, G. Gregory, PhD3,*; Stone, Michael H., PhD2,*; Buckner, Samuel L., PhD4,†; Dankel, Scott J., MS5,†; Bell, Zachary W., MS5,†; Abe, Takashi, PhD5,†; Loenneke, Jeremy P., PhD5,†

Section Editor(s): Galpin, Andrew J. PhD, CSCS, NSCA-CPT

Strength & Conditioning Journal: December 2018 - Volume 40 - Issue 6 - p 99–111
doi: 10.1519/SSC.0000000000000432
Columns: Point/Counterpoint

ABSTRACT FOR DECADES, MOST SCIENTISTS AND PRACTITIONERS HAVE AGREED THAT MUSCLE HYPERTROPHY ALSO INDUCES STRENGTH GAINS. HOWEVER, A RECENT PUBLICATION “THE PROBLEM OF MUSCLE HYPERTROPHY: REVISITED,” BUCKNER, SL, DANKEL, SJ, MATTOCKS, KT, JESSEE, MB, MOUSER, JG, COUNTS, BR, ET AL. THE PROBLEM OF MUSCLE HYPERTROPHY: REVISITED. MUSCLE NERVE 54: 1012–1014, 2016, QUESTIONED THE MECHANISTIC ROLE THAT EXERCISE-INDUCED INCREASES IN MUSCLE SIZE HAVE ON THE EXERCISE-INDUCED INCREASES IN STRENGTH (OR FORCE PRODUCTION), AS WELL AS THE INFLUENCE THAT EXERCISE-INDUCED INCREASES IN STRENGTH HAVE ON SPORTS PERFORMANCE. SUCH SUGGESTIONS UNDERMINE THE IMPORTANCE OF CERTAIN ASPECTS OF STRENGTH AND CONDITIONING FOR SPORT. SPECIFICALLY, IF NOT ACTING AS A MECHANISM FOR STRENGTH ADAPTATION, IT IS UNCLEAR IF THERE IS A SPORTS-RELATED BENEFIT TO SKELETAL MUSCLE HYPERTROPHY. IN ADDITION, THE AUTHORS ARGUED THAT IF STRENGTH HAS LITTLE IMPACT ON SPORTS PERFORMANCE, STRENGTH AND CONDITIONING PROGRAMS MAY BE DOING LITTLE MORE THAN DELAYING RECOVERY FROM PRACTICING THE ACTUAL SPORT. THIS CONTENTION ALSO INDICATES THAT HYPERTROPHY SHOULD BE AVOIDED IN NEARLY ALL SCENARIOS BECAUSE INCREASED MUSCLE SIZE WOULD BE ADDITIONAL MASS THAT MUST BE OVERCOME. THE PURPOSE OF THIS SPECIAL DISCUSSION IS TO ALLOW FOR AN IN-DEPTH SCIENTIFIC DISCUSSION OF THE EXPERIMENTAL EVIDENCE FOR AND AGAINST THE POSITION OF BUCKNER ET AL. THAT EXERCISE-INDUCED INCREASES IN MUSCLE SIZE HAVE LITTLE RELEVANCE ON THE EXERCISE-INDUCED INCREASES IN STRENGTH, AND THUS, SPORT PERFORMANCE.

1Department of Coaching and Teaching Studies, College of Physical Activity and Sport Sciences, West Virginia University, Morgantown, West Virginia;

2School of Exercise, Biomedical and Health Sciences, Edith Cowan University, Joondalup, Western Australia, Australia;

3Center of Excellence for Sport Science and Coach Education, East Tennessee State University, Johnson City, Tennesse;

4Division of Exercise Science, USF Muscle Laboratory, University of South Florida, Tampa, Florida; and

5Department of Health, Exercise Science, and Recreation Management, Kevser Ermin Applied Physiology Laboratory, The University of Mississippi, University, Mississippi;

*Point Authors;

Counterpoint Authors

Address correspondence for Point to William G. Hornsby, william.hornsby@mail.wvu.edu. Address correspondence for Counterpoint to Jeremy P. Loenneke, jploenne@olemiss.edu.

Conflicts of Interest and Source of Funding: The authors report no conflicts of interest and no source of funding.

COLUMN EDITOR: Andrew J. Galpin, PhD, CSCS, NCSA-CPT

The purpose of the Point/Counterpoint Column is to provide a respectful and balanced discussion in relation to controversial or current topics in the fields of strength and conditioning, nutrition, and human performance.

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William G. Hornsby is a Teaching Assistant Professor in Athletic Coaching Education and Coordinator of the Strength and Conditioning Minor, at West Virginia University in the College of Physical Activity and Sport Sciences.

Jeremy A. Gentles is a Sports Scientist and Assistant Professor at East Tennessee State University.

G. Gregory Haff is an Associate Professor and Course Coordinator of the Masters of Exercise Science (Strength and Conditioning) at Edith Cowan University.

Michael H. Stone is a Professor, Exercise and Sport Science Laboratory Director and Graduate Coordinator, Department of Sport, Exercise, Recreation and Kinesiology/Center of Excellence for Sport Science and Coach Education at East Tennessee State University.

Samuel Buckner is an Assistant Professor of Exercise Science and Director of the USF Muscle Laboratory at the University of South Florida.

Scott Dankel is a doctoral student at The University of Mississippi.

Zachary Bell is a doctoral student at The University of Mississippi.

Takashi Abe is a Visiting Professor of Exercise Science at The University of Mississippi.

Jeremy Loenneke is an Assistant Professor of Exercise Science at The University of Mississippi.

© 2018 by the National Strength & Conditioning Association