Progressive overload – hypertrophy maxed out!

Posted: April 30, 2013 in General, Training
Tags: , , , , ,

How many people do you see in the gym looking to build muscle stay the same every week and eventually quit or claim that it takes years to build muscle?

Too many! I’ve only been training properly for 1 year (and eating properly for 4 months) and I’ve seen more change in myself than anybody else in the gym I work at, so I’m just as much as a newbie as anyone else but I seem to be the only one applying progressive overload to my body!

Progressive overload is simply the continually increasing demands on the neuromusculoskeletal system in order to continually make gains in muscle size, strength and endurance. In other words, lifting more than what your used to in order to make your muscle grows and adapt to the stimulus. It’s an evolutionary adaptation, our bodies strive to survive and if there is a stimulus which can potentially threaten its survival it will rebuild bigger and stronger.

Obviously if you always lift the same weight for the same sets and reps than it will always stay the same size, on top of that if you stop lifting a stimulus your body will atrophy and decrease in size as it will have no reason to maintain that volume of mass for survival (body strives for homeostasis remember so doesn’t want to be wasting extra energy feeding muscles which aren’t necessary).

I’ve recently started a new training program in which every time I repeat a workout (ill repeated that specific workout weekly) I HAVE to increase either the number of reps or the weight lifted to ensure that I keep on growing (literally just started this routine so can’t comment on effects yet but will be surprised if I don’t grow). My trainer is Jordan Peters (trained by JP) and I urge you to check him out on Facebook if you want to learn!

There are several different variables which can be manipulated in order to maintain progressive overload is ensured, so lets take a look at them:

– resistance lifted – if you have always been lifting the same weight for the same amount of sets and reps than its time to increase it. If your Able to do more reps than the target amount than its definitely time to move on up on the weight lifted

– sets – instead of doing 3 sets why not do an extra? Yes it will be harder but that’s the point! Break to build 😉

– reps – yes we’ve all heard that doing between 6 – 12 reps is the ‘hypertrophy’ range but I’m willing to bet that instead of doing 8 reps and doing 5 for a change will make you grow to a certain degree. Everybody is different so change it up and change the reps.

– frequency – how many times do you train a week? 3-4 I’m guessing and potentially doing just a basic split (back and biceps, chest and triceps and legs and shoulders for example). Well that means over a year your only training each body part 52 times. Well why not try doing a upper body/lower body split, that will immediately double your frequency and you’ll be training each part 104 times a year rather than 52. Extra chance for growth? I think so!

– exercises – only doing one Tricep exercise a workout? Try putting another one on top and see what happens! I’m willing to bet it could make a change!

– rest time – decrease your rest time and give your muscles less chance to recover than annihilate them again.

As you can see changing the intensity and the volume is easy. If hypertrophy is your goal than these should be fundamentals within your weekly cycles to ensure constant growth. It’s important to note that there is more than one way to skin a cat and one size most definitely does not fit all, what works for your best mate doesn’t necessarily work for you. Mix things up and change all the variables and see what works best for you (assessing body composition changes every 3-4 weeks, not every day!).

Sounds pretty simple to me I think, obviously I haven’t even got started on nutrition here which is also going to be massively persuasive on how much growth is possible for you!

Good luck guys!

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