Gross measures of exercise-induced muscular hypertrophy

J Orthop Sports Phys Ther. 2000 Mar;30(3):143-8. doi: 10.2519/jospt.2000.30.3.143.


Study design: Pretest-posttest, single factor design.

Objectives: To compare several indices that might be used to depict muscle size.

Background: The particular strategy used during heavy-resistance training may determine the magnitude of hypertrophic adaptations. At the same time, assorted measures supposedly reflecting muscle size may provide different results.

Methods and measures: Four groups of men (n = 38, mean age = 21.1 years, SD = 2.1) were exposed to conditions designed to elicit differential hypertrophic adaptations following 21 sessions of squat training. Three of the groups performed 4 sets of multiple repetitions maximum (RM): group I, 3-5 RM; group II, 13-15 RM; and group III, 23-25 RM. A control (C) group did no formal physical training. Tests used to represent muscle size included body weight, thigh girth, net thigh girth, and quadriceps femoris and hamstring thicknesses via B-mode ultrasound.

Results: Changes in the groups subsequent to training were similar for body weight and hamstring thickness. Results differed for the remaining 3 dependent variables (mean +/- SD): thigh girth was greater in groups II (1.42 +/- 1.00) and III (1.35 +/- 1.16) than in group C (0.24 +/- 0.69); net thigh girth was greater in groups II (1.33 +/- 0.77) and III (1.40 +/- 1.03) than in group C (0.10 +/- 0.84); and quadriceps femoris thickness was greater in all 3 training groups (I, 0.61 +/- 0.54; II, 0.43 +/- 0.30; III, 0.55 +/- 0.39) than in group C (0.05 +/- 0.11).

Conclusions: Observed muscle mass change following heavy-resistance training is dependent upon both the training intervention and tool used for measurement.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Body Weight
  • Humans
  • Hypertrophy
  • Male
  • Muscle, Skeletal / anatomy & histology
  • Muscle, Skeletal / diagnostic imaging
  • Muscle, Skeletal / pathology*
  • Muscular Diseases / etiology
  • Muscular Diseases / pathology*
  • Physical Examination
  • Reproducibility of Results
  • Ultrasonography
  • Weight Lifting*