The role of exercise selection in regional Muscle Hypertrophy: A randomized controlled trial

J Sports Sci. 2021 Oct;39(20):2298-2304. doi: 10.1080/02640414.2021.1929736. Epub 2021 Jul 10.


There is emerging evidence suggesting that muscle growth is not homogeneous through the muscle. The aim of the present study was to analyse the role of exercise selection in regional hypertrophy. Two randomly allocated groups with equal training volume and intensity performed squats in the smith machine (SMTH group) or the leg extension exercise (LEG group). Growth in proximal, central and distal regions of the rectus femoris (RF) and vastus lateralis (VL) muscles, jump height and body composition were analysed. Results show that the three regions of RF grew significantly in the participants of the LEG group (p < 0.05), while only the central region of VL grew significantly in the SMTH group (p < 0.05). In summary, this study confirms that exercise selection plays a role in regional hypertrophy. Whilst there may be still other factors that determine how muscles grow, it seems that the chosen exercises may be responsible of the differences observed in this study.

Keywords: Inhomogeneous; growth; leg extension; quadriceps femoris; squat; strength.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial

MeSH terms

  • Adaptation, Physiological
  • Adult
  • Anthropometry
  • Exercise / physiology*
  • Hip / physiology
  • Humans
  • Leg / physiology
  • Male
  • Muscle, Skeletal / anatomy & histology*
  • Muscle, Skeletal / physiology*
  • Resistance Training / methods*
  • Skeletal Muscle Enlargement / physiology*
  • Young Adult