Raising the Bar ( How Much)
At some point, after getting started lifting, everyone wonders when to up the ante. After all, we aren’t going through the motions for the sake of it – we want results. For those looking to build solid, lean muscle learning when to add weight is key for muscle hypertrophy. (Growth)
Building muscle requires a combination of variables, all fine-tuned and adapted to each of our metabolisms and body types, based around specific goals. Proper diet and nutrition, intervals, workout splits, and rest days, just to name a few. If I had to pick two of these to live by they would be a. protein intake b. progressive overload. For those who may question my choices, protein for the obvious – our bodies require it, and progressive overload because without providing constant tension, the muscles simply will not grow.
I remember the days when, after spending serious time in the gym and giving it my all, pushing out those last few reps and feeling proud of myself – someone would inevitably walk in and warm up with the weight I had just pushed that last set out with. Ego check.
Check Your Ego At The Door
Forget the weekend warrior who tells you to, “go big or go home.” You, my friend, want actual results. Go bigger, but do it smartly.
Slow and steady wins the race.
NASM defines progressive overload as: “The Principle of Overload is that in order for a tissue (bone, tendon, ligament, etc.) to adapt to a demand, it must be progressively overloaded.) Sounds simple enough, right. Not really. The body has an amazing ability to adapt to what ever it is we are doing to it. Perhaps you have noticed those at the gym who seem to go through the same routines week after week. I make it a habit not to criticize others, especially when it comes to gym time – they are there and that speaks volumes. After all, “A little progress everyday adds up to big results.” At some point though, we want the muscles to grow.
So When Do I Add More Weight?!
Conventional training advice, which I still believe to be true, says to add ten pounds once you can comfortably perform three sets. Three sets of ten repetitions that is. But lets expand on that.
As we work out we make tiny tears in the muscle fibers. (micro-tears) Those tears heal themselves, and the muscles grow.
The pumped look you get after a workout is one thing. That’s blood rushing to the muscle. That will go away. Dem tears tho, their another thing. When they heal they build new ones. And abracadabra, muscle.
Giving the muscle a significant amount of time to adapt and then adding more weight is key for achieving results. Start small. Start with a 4 – 6 week plan. OR, when 3 sets of 10 reps with near perfect form are easily performed. Then up the weight by 1olbs. And remember:
“Rome wasn’t built in a day, but they were laying breaks everyday”
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“You must do the things you think you cannot do” – Eleanor Roosevelt