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The Hatfield Method for increasing mass and strength
The Hatfield Method for increasing mass and strength

The Hatfield Method for increasing mass and strength

Date: October 03, 2016

Frederick Hatfield

The method is named after Frederick Hatfield (also called Dr. Squat by virtue of his history as a great Powerlifter), co-founder and president of the ISSA, an international fitness association.

In 1987, at the age of 45, he set a new world record for squat lifting, by lifting 460 Kg, in addition, his personal records include:

  • 237 Kg bench press

  • 347 Kg ground clearance

  • 125 Kg snatch

  • 167 Kg clean & jerk

The method proposed by this super athlete is part of what are called holistic techniques, because it is a protocol that allows you to stimulate all of the different types of muscle fibres in one session.

A fundamental element in support of his method was the incontrovertible scientific proof, obtained using an optical microscope, which showed there are many different types of fibre and structural elements in muscle fibres, each of which has different characteristics, and that all of these components can be trained.

Each muscle component responds to a different type of workout, so it's necessary to carry out different and specific work for each of them, by varying the volume, intensity and density of each exercise.

Using these terms, Hatfield developed a protocol that allows the cell to spread out to its full potential, thus obtaining "complete" muscle hypertrophy.

Microscopic cell analysis

What was specifically seen through the microscope?

Present were:

1 - Muscle fibres

Muscle fibres of different types depending on their function

  • Type I red fibres are characterised by a slow contraction and excellent resistance

  • Type II and IIa white fibres however, are contract quickly, and are fundamental in producing bursts of force.

They have a larger diameter than red fibres, and are better predisposed to anaerobic stress.

These types of fibres are activated in modulating series training, repetitions and recoveries.

2 - Sarcoplasm

Around the fibres is the sarcoplasm, the part of the cytoplasm that envelops muscular cells, and which contains the sarcoplasmic reticulum, which is responsible for the accumulation of calcium ions essential for muscle contraction.

3 - Mitochondria

Also present are mitochondria, the "engines" of the muscles, that are responsible for cellular respiration.

4 - Fat, capillaries, glycogen and connective tissue

Finally, muscle contains deposits of fat, capillaries, glycogen and connective tissue.

All of these components are present in different percentages, as shown in this table:

  • Myofibrils 20-30%
  • Sarcoplasm 20-30%
  • Mitochondria 15-25%
  • Fat 10-15%
  • Capillaries 3-5%
  • Glycogen 2-5%
  • Other substances 2-3%

Structure and Motivation

As can be seen from the table, myofibrils and sarcoplasm contribute about half the volume of a muscle cell, so a good percentage of the work in this protocol is devoted to the development of these two components.

Myofibrillar hypertrophy (the actual muscle tissue) manifests itself as a thickening of the filaments that make up these components; to achieve this, training will be developed so as to predominantly exploitalactic metabolism through high loads and low repetitions, there will be force/power training with complete, or almost complete, recovery between sets to allow the muscle to restore its creatine phosphate reserves, giving us the ability to develop a performance at the same level as the previous one.


Miha Zupan, training to increase mass and strength


The sarcoplasm is the fluid environment surrounding the myofibrils, which contains organelles (mitochondria), glycogen and fatty acids.

a hypertrophic sarcoplasm workout should use as much muscle glycogen as possible to develop a super-compensation of it by dietary carbohydrate intake, which, when tied to a water load almost three times greater than their weight, will make the muscles fuller and swollen.

In this case, we will exploit the lacto-anaerobic system, which has a glycogenic energy substrate and lactic acid as a waste product; to do this, a series of medium to low loads, medium to long repeats, medium to low recovery and high TUT (Time Under Tension) is necessary.


In this case, the author recommends adopting a slow eccentric and a concentric burst phase.

The rest of the workout will be directed towards vascularisation, which can be obtained via long series that consist of slow repetitions and continuous tension with a short recovery; these parameters allow the muscle to swell with blood by exploiting all of the capillaries present locally, dramatically increasing the temperature and thereby creating our beloved pump effect.


How many times should you train each muscle?

Hatfield advises training every muscle district about every 5 days; in fact, the "standard" split takes place over 2 training sessions with a frequency of three times a week, thus forming an A-B-A, B-A-B, A-B-A pattern.

the main criticism of the original method was the reduced volume, given that by working on different repetitive ranges and with different metabolic energetics, the stress created on the SNC is very high.

Petar Klancir, training to increase mass and strength

Practical example of a Hatfield style gembe sitting

  • Back Squat with 5 x 5 barbell
  • Front squat with 4 x 8 barbell
  • Dumbbells with 3 x 12 handlebars
  • Leg extension 3 x 20
  • Calf machine sitting 3 x 20
  • Calf at a Smith machine 3 x 20

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