How To Maximize Muscle Growth with Progressive Overload

Maximize Muscle Growth with Progressive Overload

In order to continue making progress in a strength program, it is essential that you constantly stimulate a muscle with a new challenge. Progressive overload, or the gradual increase in stress placed upon the body during strength training, leads to several physiological adaptations that stimulate muscle growth and increase strength. Here are the three key variables related to overload that will help you maximize muscle growth.

  1. Volume refers to the number of sets, reps and weight used in a workout. There is scientific evidence displaying that a link between higher volume used in training protocol will induce greater muscular hypertrophy over time. When calculated, this means that more muscle growth will occur when larger weekly volumes of training are utilized. One study reported that when using three sets per muscle group vs one set at the same intensity, the subjects who trained with the higher volume elicited greater strength and cross-sectional muscle area then did the group that trained with one set. Utilizing higher volume workouts will elicit the greatest amount of muscular hypertrophy, but it should be noted that volume must be advanced progressively, because taking on an extremely high volume program right out of the gate can lead to overtraining, an inability to progress and can cause severe delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS) that will ultimately reduce your training volume because you will be too sore to train.
  1. Muscle action refers to the movement phase of an exercise being eccentric, concentric, or isometric. Shortening active muscles are called concentric muscle actions, lengthening active muscles are called eccentric muscle actions, and when active muscles remain the same length, these are called isometric muscle actions. Studies have shown that an increase in mechanical tension and muscle trauma occur to a muscle group when a focus is placed on eccentric contractions of a muscle group.
  1. Intensity most typically refers to the amount of resistance used in correlation to an individual’s one-rep max or the maximal weight able to lift for an exercise. Intensity has been shown to have a significant impact on mechanical tension and muscle hypertrophy. Repetitions are classified as low (1-5), moderate (6-12) and high (15+). Low and moderate repetitions tax the neuromuscular system in different ways and result in differing hypertrophic response yet both have a significant impact on muscle growth. Higher rep ranges with lower intensities are primarily utilized for increases in muscular endurance. Additionally, higher rep ranges with lower intensity illicit a greater time under tension which produce metabolic byproducts in the stimulated muscle. Higher rep ranges reduce the ability for venous return of blood to the heart, therefore the accumulated blood causes cellular swelling and signals hormonal interactions with the stimulated muscle.

Periodization is the methodical manipulation of training variables over a period of time from days to years. The idea of periodization is to break down training cycles into different time intervals (microcycle, mesocycle, macrocycle) to expose the body to a particular training style that induces a benefit reaping stimulus but does not allow the body to become adapted to the stimulus. This method allows individuals to maximize training adaptations while also avoiding injury and overtraining which promotes recovery.





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, Celebrity Personal Trainer and Fitness & Nutrition Expert headquartered in Scottsdale, AZ. He specializes in helping men and women achieve weight loss, muscle building, toning and other customized fitness & nutrition programs to create a Healthy Lifestyle. James offers private luxury personal training, 12-week custom workout plans, and personalized nutrition meal plans. Follow on Google+.

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