Let’s talk about one very important, but seemingly under-valued aspect of building muscle: progressive overload.
What is progressive overload?
It is a method of training designed to gradually increase the stress put onto your musculoskeletal and nervous system with the intent of teaching your body to build more muscle fibers over time to deal with the added stress.
Now, how can utilizing progressive overload support your training?
Well, how many times have you walked into the gym and lifted more-or-less the same weight for more-or-less the same reps without seeing the results you desire? How many drop-sets and supersets have you performed at nauseum? How many times have you changed up your routine with the idea of “confusing” your muscles, and still nothing.
This is because all you’re doing is stimulating the muscles you already have, which can work really well when the goal is maintaining the physique you already have. However, these types of methods aren’t particularly effective at promoting growth, especially if you don’t track your numbers. Incorporating this new type of training is guaranteed to change the way you train for the better, forever.
So, how does progressive overload training work? Well first of all, you’re going to need a method of tracking your exercises, weights, and reps performed. You can go old-school and use a training journal or, my preferred method, an app on your phone.
Next, you’re going to pick a cluster of exercises for each of your training days, particularly spending the majority of your time utilizing multi-joint compound lifts (deadlifts, squat, bench press etc.), as these types of lifts are far-and-above more effective for growth than isolation exercises (which can still have a place in your training using this method), and plan to perform at a low rep range (in this case, let’s use 4-6).
Here’s an example of a “Push” day:
3 Sets of Bench Press @ 4-6 Reps
3 Sets of Incline Bench Press @ 4-6 Reps
3 Sets of Dumbbell Bench Press @ 4-6 Reps
3 Sets of Close-Grip Bench Press @ 4-6 Reps
3 Sets of Military Press @ 4-6 Reps
Now, let’s say you perform 225 on the bench press for 4 reps one week. Then, the following week, you perform 225 again, but for 5 reps this time. Then, 225 once again the next week, but this time you hit that 6th rep. Great! Now you can add 5-10 pounds onto that bar with the goal of performing 4 reps, and then the cycle repeats. Getting stronger one rep at a time, while keeping everything tracked.
This is progressive overload, and it will deliver you tremendous lean mass gains.
Want more insight on proper training techniques and tips, follow me on Instagram where I post on these topics frequently!
I’ve also opened up a few more slots in my 1-on-1 coaching program. If you’re looking for guidance on proper training and nutrition for your specific needs, you can check that out HERE.
Now go train!