HST – Hypertrophy Specific Training

August 11th, 2007 by Paul Johnson

HST is a weight training program geared for muscle hypertrophy that started gaining popularity a few years ago.

What is HST?

HST stands for Hypertrophy Specific Training. It was developed off of scientific studies on mechanisms that cause muscle hypertrophy(muscle size increase).

Major Principles of HST:

Based on their research, they developed these major guidelines for their workout program.

Mechanical Load: In order to have muscle hypertrophy you need mechanical load (lifting weights).

Progressive Load: In order to continue to make muscle gains, you need to increase the weights slowly long term.

Progressive Rep range change: Every 2 weeks you should progressively change your workout rep range. Ex. 12 reps, 10, 8,6. so you can keep up with the weight increases.

Chronic vs Acute Stimuli: HST advocates hitting a muscle part more than once a week. Many of the bodies reactions to weight training such as protein synthesis, end 48 hours after a workout.

Strategic Deconditioning: Plateaus are inevitable with the principle of progressive overload. To get around this, there must be phase where you lower the weight. Strategic deconditioning allows the muscles to take one 1 step back to eventually get 2 steps ahead.

Low volume: HST believes in low volume training as after more than 1 or 2 sets, it has little effect on hypertrophy. Since HST advocates hitting the bodypart more than once a week, you will hit each bodypart for multiple sets per week.

Compound excercises: HST workouts are geared around compound excercises, as it is shown to be a better stimulus for muscle hypertrophy.

HST Workout:

HST routines are full body workouts done 3 times a week. You will need 2 days between workout days, for example, monday, wednesday, and friday. You will do usually 1 to 2 sets per excercise and 1 - 2 excercises are done for each muscle part. Starting at the rep range of 15 reps, every week you will change the rep range and/or weight load you use on your sets from higher to lower, which follows the basic HST principles on progressive overload and progressive rep range changes. For example on week 1 you will be doing 15 reps of a light weight. At about week 5 you may be doing 6 reps at a heavy weight.

After a few weeks you will do Strategic Deconditioning for a week, to give your muscles a break. During Strategic Deconditioning you continue to do the low rep range, but you use a lighter weight. Even though you may be tempted, do not increase your reps to go to failure with the lighter weight. THe following week, you will then start the same workout cycle all over again.

  1. Tom on October 5th, 2007

    The HST program also (major key to the program) Progresses in 2 week rep blocks.. starting 15 – 10 – 5 then to 5rep max. or eccentric.. or (as i do sometimes) max contractions..

    This is a very good program.. especially for people getting back into lifting or after injury..

    Train with focus, achieve anything..


  2. Paul on September 14th, 2009

    What it appears a lot of people are
    not understanding is the rep scheme
    and why it is so effective.

    HST is not only a 6 to 8 week traiing
    program it can be longer… But it
    has to incorporate the Strategic
    Deconditioning, which is no training.

    For example… On your first run of
    the program you should not try to do
    anything different than what the
    program calls for.

    No splits, no extra training, just
    stick to the proram.

    1st two weeks, start with reps of
    15. (Be sure to test what your max
    reps are for a set of 15, and have
    this as your sixth workout in week
    2). You should do 1 set of 15 reps
    per workout and then leave.

    The 2nd two weeks is for 2 sets of
    10 reps, again increasing each of
    your 3 workouts per week by adding
    weight. In these two weeks, you
    should know before hand what your
    10 rep max is and have this workout
    on your sixth workout in week 2.

    Example. Mon wk 1, 100 pounds
    Wed wk 1, 105 pounds
    Fri wk 1, 110 pounds

    (Do 2 sets of ten and then do no
    more of the specific exercise).

    Then… Mon wk 2, 115 pounds
    Wed wk 2, 120 pounds
    Fri wk 2, 125 pounds

    In the above example, 125 pounds
    is your 10 rep max and it should
    be done on the last day.

    Now… Move to 3 sets of 5 for 2
    weeks, and yes again, ramp up the
    weight so you’re working your 5
    rep max on the last workout in
    the second week.

    Then you can do 2 weeks of negatives.
    Don’t overdo it here, or continue
    with 2 weeks of your 5 rep max.

    NOW… take 1 whole week again and
    start again at the 15’s.

    You should note that in your second
    cycle you can increase all weights
    by 5 pounds for example and keep

    You will gain muscle, you won’t overtrain,
    and you will get stronger.

    This is about creating an environment
    for muscles to grow.

    Or… you could keep doing the same splits,
    or pre-exhaust or lifting heavy all of the
    time and lose motivation and get smaller.

    Follow the program it works.

    I increase my 5 rep max for squats from
    225lbs to 340lbs in 4 cycles.

    I increased my 5 rep max for bench from
    205lbs to 280lbs. and I am a 41 year
    Diabetic to boot.