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What Is The Best HST Workout?

What is the best HST workout? This week's forum members give us an in-depth look into what this idea really is. Get comprehensive information and some great training routines right here.

TOPIC: What Is The Best HST Workout?

The Question:

Hypertrophy-Specific Training (HST) is a not a specific routine, but a training idea. It's been tested by many weightlifters.

What is HST?

What is the best HST workout? Be specific and make sure to list exercises, reps, sets, etc.

Who would an HST workout appeal to?

Who wouldn't an HST workout appeal to?

Bonus Question: Have you tried an HST program? If so, how well did it work? If not, do you think it's a routine worth trying?

Show off your knowledge to the world!

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1st Place - TUnit
Hypertrophy-Specific Training
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Hypertrophy-Specific Training (HST) is a not a specific routine, but a training idea. It's been tested by many weightlifters, especially bodybuilders.

What Is HST?

Hypertrophy-Specific Training, or simply HST, is a method of training designed to quickly and effectively induce whole body muscle growth. It is based on physiological principles of muscular hypertrophy. These principles were first discovered in the laboratory, and then organized into a method of training that would produce predictable and repeatable hypertrophic effects.

Hypertrophy-Specific Training arose out of the research looking at both the stimuli and mechanisms for muscle cell hypertrophy. Of course, translating these principles into applicable methods (sets and reps and schedules) brings in some possibility of error. As the science continues to explore the exact mechanisms of muscle hypertrophy, this error will be whittled away. (

Some Minor Principles Of Hypertrophy-Specific Training. Some Minor Principles Of Hypertrophy-Specific Training.
Herein, we're going to take a closer look at some of these minor principles, while only briefly discussing the well-known major principles of HST.
[ Click here to learn more. ]

1. Mechanical Load:

    Mechanical Load is necessary to induce muscle hypertrophy. This mechanism involves but isn't limited to, MAPk/ERK, satellite cells, growth factors, calcium and number of other fairly understood factors. It is incorrect to say "we don't know how muscle grows in response to training."

    The whole point of the HST book is not to discuss HST, but to present the body of research explaining how hypertrophy occurs. Then HST becomes a relatively obvious conclusion if your goal is hypertrophy.

2. Acute vs. Chronic Stimuli:

    In order for the loading to result in significant hypertrophy, the stimulus must be applied with sufficient frequency to create a new "environment," as opposed to seemingly random and acute assaults on the mechanical integrity of the tissue. The downside of taking a week of rest every time you load a muscle is that many of the acute responses to training like increased protein synthesis, prostaglandins, IGF-1 levels and mRNA levels all return to normal in about 36 hours.

    So, you spend 2 days growing and half a week in a semi-anticatabolic state returning to normal (some people call this recovery), when research shows us that recovery can take place unabated even if the muscle is loaded again in 48 hours. So true anabolism from loading only lasts two days at best once the load is removed. The rest of the time you are simply balancing nitrogen retention without adding to it.

3. Progressive Load:

    Over time, the tissue adapts and becomes resistant to the damaging effects of mechanical load. This adaptation (resistance to the stimulus) can happen in as little as 48 hours (Repeated Bout Effect or Rapid Training Effect). As this happens, hypertrophy will stop, though neural and metabolic adaptations can and may continue.

    As opposed to hypertrophy, the foundation for the development of strength is neuromuscular in nature. Increases in strength from resistance exercise have been attributed to several neural adaptations including altered recruitment patterns, rate coding, motor unit synchronization, reflex potentiation, prime mover antagonist activity and prime mover agonist activity.

    So, aside from incremental changes in the number of contractile filaments (hypertrophy), voluntary force production (i.e. strength) is largely a matter of "activating" motor units.

4. Strategic Deconditioning:

    At this point, it is necessary to either increase the load (Progressive load), or decrease the degree of conditioning to the load (Strategic Deconditioning). The muscle is sensitive not only to the absolute load, but also to the change in load (up or down).

    Therefore, you can get a hypertrophic effect from increasing the load from a previous load, even if the absolute load is not maximum, assuming conditioning (resistance to exercise induced micro-damage) is not to extensive.

    There is a limit to the number of increments you can add to increase the load. You simply reach your maximum voluntary strength eventually. This is why Strategic Deconditioning is required for continued growth once growth has stopped (all things remaining equal).

Strategic Deconditioning: Priming Muscles For Growth. Strategic Deconditioning: Priming Muscles For Growth. While utilizing Hypertrophy-Specific Training techniques, our goal is to present the muscle with a growth promoting stimulus at the moment the muscle is physically susceptible to microtrauma.
[ Click here to learn more. ]

Utilizing Lactic Acid As A Stimulus For Tendon Repair/Health:

    Now HST incorporates a few other things such as higher reps (for lactic acid) to prepare the muscles and tendons for future heavy loads. This serves as "regular maintenance." Without it, you increase your risk of chronic injuries and pain. The metabolically-taxing reps enhance healing of strained tendons.

Compound Exercises:

    HST also suggests using compound exercises to maximize the effects of loading on as much muscle as possible per exercise.

Progressively Adjusting Reps To Accommodate Progressive Load:

    HST suggests that you use 2-week blocks for each rep range. Why? It has nothing to do with adaptation. It is simply a way to accommodate the ever increasing load. Of course, you could adjust your reps every week (e.g. 15, 12, 10, 8, 5, etc.), but this is more complicated and people might not understand.

    Often times, in order to communicate an idea you must simplify things, even at the expense of perfection. If people can't understand it, they won't do it. What good would that do or anybody? Then, over time, people figure out for themselves the other possibilities that exist within the principles of hypertrophy.

Low Volume Per Exercise (Average Volume Per Week):

    HST suggests that you limit the number of sets per exercise per workout to 1 or 2. This is based on "some" evidence that sets beyond the first "effective" set do little more than burn calories.

    There is nothing wrong with burning calories, but when you get to be my age you just don't have the exercise tolerance that you once did. Using hormone replacement (HRT) therapy would of course, increase the number of sets you could do without undue stress.

    Some may question the validity of HST not utilizing more than 1 or 2 sets per exercise. The number of sets is set low to accommodate the frequency necessary to create an effective and consistent environment to stimulate hypertrophy. Over the course of a week, the volume isn't that different from standard splits (e.g. chest should tri, back bi, legs). (

    HST is a training idea based on numerous scientific principles and data that has been rendered to be effective by many trainees, even including a few professional bodybuilders. It is an idea that has direct scientific evidence to support itself. It is based on training each body part three times per week so as to constantly induce growth.

    The idea is that constant tension on the muscles will lead to more hypertrophy than a conventional split in which a muscle is subject to stress once or twice per week and the other 5-6 days of the week are spent training other body parts and not stimulating each muscle group. However, over the course of an entire week, the total number of sets for each body part will be similar to a conventional body part split.

Six Hypertrophy Hints! Six Hypertrophy Hints!
Here I will share with you six 'hints' that can lead to more hypertrophy. Serious bodybuilding is hard work, and you deserve to get the most out of the time you spend in the gym.
[ Click here to learn more. ]

What is the best HST workout? Be specific and make sure to list exercises, reps, sets, etc.

The principles of HST are based on progressive load and on training each muscle group 3 times per week. The program is based around 2-week cycles in specific rep ranges. Also, the goal of the workouts is intensity and stimulation, not annihilation of the muscle group.

This routine is not suggested for a beginner trainee, but for an intermediate or advanced lifter with at least 1-2 years of solid training experience. You must first establish your 15-Rep Max, your 10-Rep Max and your 5-Rep Max for each of the lifts in the program. Here is an 8-week cycle:

Weeks 1-2:

Weeks 3-4:

Weeks 5-6:

Weeks 7-8:

Week 9 - Strategic Deconditioning (Rest Week)

Weeks 10+

    From here you can start the cycle over again. It would also be a good idea to change some of the exercises. For example, switch Dumbbell Curls with Reverse Curls.

Who Would
An HST Workout Appeal To?

An HST workout would appeal to almost anyone looking to put on muscle and increase strength. The entire concept of HST is based on real science and it looks like a solid training idea. It is much better than trying some workout you read in a magazine that promises 10 pounds of muscle in a week. HST is a proven training idea that will pack on muscle on a consistent basis.

HST For Dummies. HST For Dummies.
If you are looking for mainly size, with some strength on the side, HST is the way to go. Continue here for an explanation on HST and how often it should be done.
[ Click here to learn more. ]

Bodybuilders would benefit well by switching from a conventional split routine to an HST routine for eight weeks. Someone going from a "conventional" routine to an HST routine would be pleasantly surprised by the results. This is because homeostasis would be disrupted as each body part would be trained three times per week, but with a lower volume each session, keeping almost constant stimulation for each muscle group to grow.

Who Wouldn't
An HST Workout Appeal To?

An HST workout would probably not appeal to someone looking to maintain their weight or someone that is in a cutting phase. HST is meant for people looking to gain mass and best results are achieved when there is a caloric surplus.

Also, powerlifters, wrestlers, or boxers that must stay in a specific weight class would probably not be inclined to start an HST routine for the simple reason that a considerable amount of weight will most likely be gained when partaking in such a routine. Lastly, an HST workout would not appeal to beginners because of the difficulty presented by the workouts.

Bonus Question:
Have you tried an HST program? If so, how well did it work? If not, do you think it's a routine worth trying?

I have not tried an HST program in the past but I plan on doing so in the near future. It looks like a solid routine with sound principles and I simply want to see how well it actually works. I will follow the routine for eight weeks while following a diet with a large caloric surplus in hopes of gaining as much muscle as possible.

I think the HST program is worth it because there seem to be no gimmicks, just proven and consistent results. HST is also known to create fast strength gains so this is an added bonus.

Have You Ever Tried An HST Program?

No, But I Will.

Review Of Other Articles
Or "Why Wasn't Mine Picked?"



  • On topic and generally well constructed.


  • Light on content for an article. Over use of first person pronoun "I" in last paragraph.
  • Comments: This writer displayed a crisp direct style. With more practice pleasant and informative articles may be had. Reading past winners will give a good idea of content length.

    While construction was pleasant, content was arguably a bit dry. Conveying your personal touch without coming off as egotistical is a fine line. Injecting more of a personal touch, as if telling a story to a friend may help.



  • Good job of demonstrating a command of the subject. Excellent job of balancing an authoritative stance with conversational tone.


  • Spelling errors. After a great job answering first question, content was lagging.
  • Comments: Better proof reading and more balance may help. The answer to the first question was comprehensive. The remainder of the article may have been a bit terse. Especially the section on who would not like HST.