By the healthiergang writer Gabriele Corda, personal trainer and federal instructor specializing in fitness and functional training.
The Hatfield Method
What is the most comprehensive method for stimulate muscle hypertrophy? Considering the various components of the muscle, is there a training program aimed at maximizing the increase in lean mass?
The answer is yes! Let's see how.
Before starting you need to take a step back for understand how a muscle is structured, knowing our body is the first necessity to be able to train it properly.
The muscles can have numerous shapes, just think of the difference between the pectoral muscle and the quadriceps, but they all have an origin and an insertion.
The first is equivalent to the tendon part of the muscle that connects to a closer bone while the insertion corresponds to that part that connects to the furthest and most mobile bone.
A simplified example: the bracchial biceps originates in the scapula and is inserted with a tendon on the radius and ulna (remember that the bracchial biceps is divided into long head and short head, the example is purely illustrative to understand origin and insertion). Between the origin and the insertion we have the muscle belly.
Inside the muscular belly we find the muscle fibers, a fundamental part of the muscle as it is able to perform muscle contraction through the myofibrils inside it.
The fibers are divided into white and red, the former are suitable for high intensity but short duration movements (such as powerlifter lifts, centometers or the snatch of the Olympic weightlifter); red fibers, on the other hand, find their best use in modest but long-lasting efforts (such as long runs of marathon runners or triathlons).
Inside the muscle we find the sarcoplasma, a liquid part that hosts mitochondria, glycogen and all the other corpuscles. This part of the muscle is quite voluminous and, through the right training, we can be able to increase its size even with endurance work by stimulating the mitochondria and, above all, leading to depletion of glycogen stores.
Assuming that it is possible to train all types of muscle fibers and with the idea that a session should include a stimulation of all the components of the muscle, the metodo Hatfield.
Conceived by the world record squat (460Kg) Mr. Frederick Hatfield in the early 90s, the method provides in the same training session a complete stimulation of all those components of the muscle considered essential for growth.
The Structure of the Hatfield Method
Considering that in the weight room to stimulate the growth of white fibers it is necessary to use very high loads with workouts similar to those of powerlifters and Olympic weightlifters but for red fibers the loads must be much more modest, in a training based on the Hatfield method we will find a great variety of techniques.
Let's start with white fibers, respond in an excellent way to high intensity workouts, in the weight room you can apply the training methodologies for maximum strength, namely:
? Fundamental exercises
? High loads (between 80 and 90% of the ceiling)
? Complete recoveries
? Few repetitions in each set
? Load management with controlled negative phase and fast but not explosive positive phase
All red fibers instead a different training is needed, delegated to roles more similar to resistance, the red fibers are able to hypertrophy if subjected to continuous stress (medium-long) with not too high loads:
? Multiarticular exercises
? Medium-low loads (around 70% of the ceiling)
? Medium to long reps
? Incomplete recoveries
? Load management with slow negative phase and not too fast positive phase
This also coincides with all the studies carried out on hypertrophy due to stress lattacidi in which it was found that an increase in lean mass occurs following an important stimulus obtained by working on the production of high quantities of lactic acid.
By carrying out a workout described for red fibers we will also stimulate the increase in the volume of the sarcoplasm as, by depleting all the muscle glycogen, the body through supercompensation will tend to store more and more of it.
The final part of the training will be dedicated to capillarization and stimulation of mitochondria as well as to finish the training of the red fibers.
By improving the capillarization, in addition to aesthetic purposes, we will get a greater flow of blood inside the muscle, this allows for better resistance and decreases recovery times because the blood carries with it nourishment and oxygen and takes away lactic acid and waste materials that block muscle contraction.
? One-joint exercises
? Low loads (even 50% of the ceiling)
? Long reps
? Incomplete recoveries
? Load management with slow negative action and controlled positive phase
The original protocol provides 3 workouts per week. Divide muscle groups into 2 AB workouts and repeat ABA; BAB; ABA etc.
For advanced athletes you can consider the idea of dividing the workouts into 3 ABCs and training 4 times a week with a pattern:
A-B-C-A ; B-C-A-B ; C-A-B-C ecc .
The total duration of the Hatfield protocol is 5 weeks.
Let's see a practical example of a board created by applying the Hatfield method:
1. first exercise a fundamental, method of maximum strength
2. second and third multiarticular exercise, hypertrophy and lactate method
3. fourth monoarticular exercise, capilarization and resistance method.
So, let's take the chest for example:
- 4 × 5 flat bench in ramping or at constant load with failure in the last series; recovery 120 - 180 seconds; negative phase in 3 seconds, positive phase in 2, no isometry
- Dumbbell presses on 3 × 8 incline with failure in all series with decreasing load; recovery 90 seconds; negative phase in 4 seconds, positive phase in 2
- 3 × 10 wide parallels with failure in all series with decreasing load; recovery 60/90 seconds; negative phase in 4 seconds, positive phase in 2
- Pectoral machine 3 × 20 with failure in all series; recovery 45/60 seconds; slow and controlled execution in both positive and negative phases (3-5 seconds) to better focus on the single target muscle
Practical example on quadriceps:
- Back Squat 4×5 ,120-180 secondi rest
- Press 4 × 8, 90 seconds of rest
- Walking lunges 3 × 10-12, 90 seconds rest
- Leg extension 3 × 20, 45-60 seconds of rest
- (Optional) Sumo squat to Hack squat 2 × 20-25, 60 seconds rest
The best advice is to focus on execution. Each exercise must be done at the right times to stimulate the muscle component we are aiming for. So performing the second exercise with explosive movements, even if tiring or motivating, does not fit with the basic theories on which the program is built.
For the first exercise use maximum strength techniques and, in the weeks, the load will certainly increase. For capillarization exercises use modest loads and focus on execution, 20 repetitions there are many to do especially if performed in a slow and controlled way, for this reason the weight will certainly be low but do not be disheartened, you have already done the high loads with the first exercise.
A first useful supplement is maltodextrin, taken immediately after training will quickly restore the muscle glycogen stores depleted during the session. It is important to take quick sugars immediately after training to further stimulate the increase in glycogen stores.
Together you can take BCAA amino acids that, conveyed by the sugars, will quickly arrive inside the muscle just trained and in need of nourishment.
For strength and endurance we recommend the mix of creatine and beta-alanine, these supplements will work synergistically, significantly improving your performance.
As for the capilarization the best choice is citrulline which with its properties will give you a hand not only to improve the pump but also to optimize recovery times.