The best hypertrophy split for natural bodybuilders

The best hypertrophy split for natural bodybuilders

The best hypertrophy split for natural bodybuilders


Bodybuilding websites and magazines are packed full of advice for aspiring bodybuilders but not many of them differentiate between the natural bodybuilder and one that is cycling steroids. So, what is The best hypertrophy split for natural bodybuilders?

Although their sponsors will not allow them to publicly admit it, the majority of professional competitors will use performance-enhancing drugs as they allow them to train harder, recover quicker and grow bigger. 

There is no law against this and it is widely accepted in the competitive bodybuilding community but it may not be for you. 

Competing as a natural lifter.

If you have decided to go down the natty route and avoid any PEDs, you will have to set your sights on natural bodybuilding competitions. 

Natural competition organisers ensure that all bodybuilding competitors are tested to make sure that they do not take any performance-enhancing drugs before the show. 

The downside to competing as a natural bodybuilder is that the prize money is generally a lot lower as is the chance of getting sponsorship. 

You can usually tell the difference between a natural lifter and a lifter that uses peds from the way that they look. 

The upper chest, lateral deltoids and traps are usually far more developed than those of a natural lifter. This is why natural lifters feel that it is unrealistic to think that they can compete in a non-tested competition. 

Training as a natural lifter.

Bodybuilding websites are packed full of programmes endorsed by ex-professionals that encourage you to follow their training splits and buy their supplements. 

Whilst following these programmes as a natural lifter is not going to do you any harm, your gains will be hugely limited. 

The majority of the programmes focus on the 'bro-split' which requires you to work just one muscle group per day and often leave it for a week to recover. 

This works well if you are cycling steroids and your body is staying in an anabolic state but natural lifters will see minimal results from this. 

The whole approach should be different for a natural lifter. Some muscles in the body react well to high intensity and high frequency whereas others grow better with heavy resistance and low volume.

By looking at these different muscle groups' structure, their function and their recovery rate, we can structure a programme that allows for maximum growth, naturally. 

This is what has led us to develop the Hypergrowth Strategy, the best bodybuilding split for a natural bodybuilder. 

What is the HyperGrowth  Strategy?

The HyperGrowth strategy is more than just a workout split. It combines optimal nutrition and a scientific approach to natural bodybuilding for maximum muscle growth. 

It is not constrained to the normal push/pull/leg, full-body or upper/lower programming allowing total flexibility to train each group of muscles to their maximum capabilities. 

The HyperGrowth training split will not be as symmetrical as you may be used to and you will not get the same pump as you might with a dedicated 'chest day' which may seem a little disheartening at first.

The workouts will usually start with one or two heavy exercises which will then be followed by accessory movements. You may be thinking 'this sounds more like a strength training programme than hypertrophy' and you would be right, as it is very similar. 

The heavy movements are included as not only do they promote hypertrophy, they also elevate your growth hormones including testosterone and IGF-1. This is essential when we are looking at muscle recovery and adaptation. Gaining strength will just be an added bonus!


There is simply no point in working out to break down muscle fibres if you are not eating to rebuild them. If you are already lean, you will need to be in a calorific surplus each day to gain muscle mass. If you are carrying a lot of body fat, 

you can get away with maintenance level calories or a slight deficit and your fat stores will make up the rest. For these reasons,  it is important to know your daily calorie intake. 

The best way to work out your recommended calorie levels and track your calorie intake is through an app such as MyFitnessPal. Once you get into the habit of tracking each meal it becomes second nature. 

Calories should come from lean meats, fish, vegetables, fruit, healthy carbohydrates and healthy fats. Don't deny yourself the occasional treat as long as 90% of your diet comes from clean, high protein, wholesome foods. 


Protein is also going to need to be tracked. Aiming for around 1g-1.3g of protein for every lb of lean body weight is a good general guide for muscle growth. Lean body weight is your overall weight minus the weight from your body fat. 

There are various lean body weight calculators and guides online that will give you a rough idea of your protein intake recommendation. It is better to overestimate your protein intake. Any protein that is not used by the body will either be used as energy or disposed of by the body. 

It can be hard to hit your protein goals with regular food so don't be afraid to supplement with protein shakes or whey isolate. 

Low-calorie protein drinks can give you 50g of protein for under 200 calories so are a great way to hit your daily markers. Below is a list of some of the recommended protein powders...

Some people struggle to digest whey protein shakes or find that they can leave them bloated. If this is you, then whey isolate is your friend. 

Whey isolate is the same is just whey with the lactose removed making it easier to digest. Removing lactose also makes it generally a lower calorie option.

Good carbohydrates and healthy fats should complement your protein intake. These should ideally come from the following foods.

  • Fruits
  • Vegetables
  • Whole grains
  • Brown rice
  • Oats
  • Avocados
  • Fish
  • Olive oil
  • Nut/seed oil


There are a few supplements that will assist your diet to help you train harder, recover quicker and grow bigger. 

Vitamins - A good, slow-release multivitamin should be the first thing on your supplement list. You usually get what you pay for with multivitamins so do your research, check reviews and make sure that they cover all of your bases. 

Fish Oils - If you do not eat a lot of fish, taking a fish oil supplement is great for recovery, concentration and joint care.

Creatine - Creatine is one of the cheapest and most effective supplements available. It allows you to train harder and aids with recovery.

BCAA - Amino acids are great for pre, intra and post-workout. They are the building blocks that help your muscles to repair and adapt. 

There are numerous other supplements that you may find beneficial but the ones listed above should be the first on your shopping list. 

It can be advantageous to take a pre-workout shake before you hit the gym. Try to avoid pre-mixed powders that are full of sugars and palm oils. 

Opt for a low calorie, high caffeine option that includes creatine and BCAA if possible. 

After your workout, drink a whey protein shake or whey isolate drink within 30 minutes. This is the fastest acting protein available and will give your recovery a real kickstart. 

Your post-workout meal is where you should seek to refuel your body with more protein and carbohydrates. This should ideally be eaten within two hours of your workout.

Why the HyperGrowth Strategy is the best hypertrophy split for natural

The science behind the training split.

The idea of the HyperGrowth strategy is to train each muscle group to their maximum capabilities in terms of resistance, frequency and volume.

Scientists and trainers now agree that muscles need to be trained two to four times a week for maximum hypertrophy. 

By looking at the way these muscles are constructed, their function and their recovery rate, we can identify the maximum limits that they can be pushed to for optimal results. 

Ultimately, we will be looking to train each muscle as soon as it is ready to be trained instead of waiting for the split to rotate. 

We can determine this by looking at its SRA curve. This is the speed at which the muscle can go from stimulated to recovery to adaption. 

Once it has passed through the adaption stage, we can look to stimulate it again. Some muscles recover and adapt faster than others and these are the ones that will be trained more frequently.
natural bodybuilder best split

Muscle construction

Muscle construction plays a major part in recovery. A muscle that is predominantly made up of fast-twitch fibres will respond well to lifting heavy loads but will also fatigue quickly and take longer to recover. If the dominant fibres in a muscle are slow twitch, it will respond better to high intensity and frequency with the ability to recover quickly. 

By categorising the individual muscle groups according to their ability to recover and adapt, we can identify the ones that are going to benefit from a higher frequency of training.

Type 1 - Predominantly slow twitch
  • Quadriceps
  • Hamstrings
  • Shoulders
  • Spinal erectors
  • Calves
  • Forearms
Type 2 - Predominantly fast-twitch
  • Chest (approx 60% fast-twitch fibres)
  • Triceps 
  • Lats
  • Biceps 
Mixed - fairly even mix of type 1 and 2 fibres
  • Traps
  • Glutes
  • Abdominals
  • Obliques

The importance of heavy compound lifts.

Every session is going to start with at least one heavy compound lift such as a squat, deadlift or press. These are an essential part of the programme as they are the trigger for the growth hormones that will assist with hypertrophy. 

When training naturally without the use of steroids, forcing your body to naturally produce these hormones is going to be a major key to success

Performing a heavy compound lift with forced reps temporarily increases the amount of testosterone produced by the body for around 30-60 minutes. This temporary release mobilises fuel supplies to the muscles during your workout and, over time, will result in higher overall testosterone levels to assist with muscle growth. 

The secondary benefit of heavy compound lifting is the production of IGF-1 (insulin growth factor 1). IGF-1 is an anabolic hormone that is responsible for cell growth in both muscles and bones. It is also important for good metabolism and regulating blood sugar levels. 

IGF-1 is not only important for building lean muscle mass but also for muscle maintenance in the older lifter. Studies also show that it has anti-ageing qualities and helps to prevent cognitive decline in older adults. Diet, good sleep practice and a low-stress lifestyle will also be contributing factors to the production of IGF-1.

The HyperGrowth Strategy Workout Plan

The best hypertrophy split for natural trainers

Forget everything you have done in the gym up until now. No more standardised training plans, 'chasing the pump' and no more ego training. 

This is a science-backed training strategy that should produce optimal growth when performed correctly and with consistency. 

Progressive overload will still play a part in this programme but the focus will be on isolation movements with high intensity and maximum time under tension. 

The programme is based on five days in the gym. You can split your rest days or take them both at the weekend if preferred. Try to stay lightly active on rest days making sure to maintain good nutrition with a minimum of 8 hours of REM sleep for optimal recovery. 

Before starting each workout, warm up thoroughly on a treadmill, rower or bike. Pyramid up to working sets on each exercise to make sure that your muscles and joints are primed and to avoid injury.

The first few exercises are the heavier, compound movements. Take your time over these and really push each set to failure to break down the muscle fibres and trigger growth hormone production. 

The rest of the workout will be isolation exercises. Make sure that you are still pushing each working set to failure. Utilise supersets where advised to keep the intensity up and your time in the gym down. 

Day 1 

On the first day, we will be focusing on the upper body by going heavy on the chest. The incline press can be performed in the rack or on a smith machine if you do not have a spotter. 

Make sure that you are going to failure. If you can g past 5 reps, up the weight a little next time. Following this are some wide grip dips and overhead tricep extensions to finish off the pushing movements. 

Take a short break, drink some BCAAs and then hit the lats. It's only 3 sets of 8 so make them count by going heavy. Your biceps should then be primed and ready for work on the preacher bench. 

You can opt for a wide grip curl here or sit sideways on to really stretch the outer head. Finish off with some one-legged calf raises. Go to failure but do not push too far beyond as they are going to be taxed four times this week. 

Incline bench press - warmup sets - 1x15 1x12 1x10 - working sets - 4x5 to failure
Chest dips - (assisted or weighted if required) 3 working sets to failure
Overhead tricep extensions - working sets - 4x12-15
Lat pulldown - working sets 4x8
Preacher curls - working sets 4x12-15
Lateral raises (superset 1) working sets 3x12
Rear delt raises (superset 1) working sets 3x12
Dumbbell shrugs - (superset 2) working sets 3x12-15
Standing calf press - (superset 2) 3 sets to failure on each leg

Day 2

Day 2 starts with a big compound lift. We're going to go heavy on the squats and the shoulder press so the rest of the exercises will be a little less taxing.  Rear delt flyes can be performed with cables, dumbbells or on a machine if preferred.

Squat  - warmup sets 1x20 1x15 1x12 working sets - 5x4 to failure 
Seated leg extension - working sets medium weight 2x 1-minute AMRAP (as many reps as possible)
Seated shoulder presswarmup sets 1x20 1x15 1x12 working sets - 4x6 to failure
Rear delt flyes - working sets 3x12-15
Hammer curls - working sets 3x10-12
Reverse wrist curls - working sets 3x12-15
Seated calf press - working sets 4x12-15
Machine crunches - working sets 4x20

Day 3

Another heavy compound to start off day 3. Today we want to activate the spinal erectors. Start light and warm-up well before going for 5 heavy sets of 2. This day will be finished with an FST7 set to really break down the triceps.

Deadlift - warm-up sets 1x15 1x12 1x10 working sets 5x2
Cable row - warmup sets 1x15 1x12 working sets 4 x10-12
Smith machine shrugs - working sets 4x8-10
Seated incline curls - working sets 3x12-15
Standing calf raises - (superset 1) working sets 4 to failure
Dumbbell side-bends - (superset 1) working sets 5x12-15 on each side
Tricep rope extensions - FST7 set (7 sets of 12-15 reps - 15-second stretch rest between sets)

Day 4

This is the second chest workout of the week. We are going to hit it fairly heavy on the hammer press, flat bench or seated press. Follow this up on the pec dec. 

Here we will be placing emphasis on 'time under tension with slow negative movements and finishing off the pecs for the week. Take a short break before working the shoulders with barbell presses or seated dumbbell presses. 

The biceps are now going to have their final workout for the week. We are going to go a bit lighter on the weight here but superset regular bicep curls with some reverse grip curls. 

Seated chest press - warmup sets 1x15 1x12 1x10 working sets 4x6
Pec dec flyes - working sets 3x10-12 (5-second negative movements)
Barbell shoulder press - warmup sets 1x15 1x12 working sets 4x6
Rear delt rows - working sets 3x12-15
Barbell curl - (superset 1) working sets 3x10-12
Reverse grip barbell curls(superset 1) working sets 3x12-15
Seated calf raisesworking sets 3x12-15
Leg raises - working sets 4x15-20

Day 5

No heavy compounds on the final day but we are going to be looking for a big finish. Warm up the quads on the seated leg extension before going heavy for 5 sets to failure. 

A bit lighter on the leg curls where we will be switching the focus to time under tension on the negative movements. Take a short break before attacking the upper body tag on sets. 

Seated leg extension - warmup sets 1x20 1x15 working sets 5 x 8-10 (heavy)
Seated leg curl - warmup sets 1x20 1x15 working sets 4x10-12 (5 second negatives)
Close grip lat pulldown - warmup sets 1x20 1x15 working sets 3x8-10
Tricep pushdowns - warmup sets 1x20 1x15 working sets 4 x 12-15 
Upright rows - (superset 1) working sets 4x10-12
Barbell shrugs - (superset 1) working sets 4x8-10
Machine crunches - (superset 2) working sets 4x20-25
Side bends - (superset 2) working sets 4x12-15

After 12 weeks, take a week off to de-load before starting the cycle again. Make sure that you are pushing yourself with every working set by keeping track of the resistance used and reps completed. 

This can be done with a free workout-tracking app such as GymGoalPlus or just with a workout diary. As soon as you find the recommended reps too easy and can push past them, up the weight slightly so that you are progressively overloading the muscles. 

Exercise can be substituted if the equipment is limited or if you have mobility issues with squats etc... When you switch out an exercise, be mindful of the primary muscles that you are targeting as well as any secondary muscles that may be assisting. 

We hope that you enjoy the HyperGrowth Strategy bodybuilding programme for the natural lifter. Please let us know your thoughts on the programme and share your progress with us.

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