The only way for your body to get stronger and for your muscles to develop is to use progressive overload
Most of our patients develop injuries when they progress to quickly, or make multiple changes at once, like increasing reps and increasing the weight too
The key to gaining muscle is progressive overload! This simply means increasing the amount of work you are doing over time! In order for a muscle to grow, strength to be gained, performance to increase, or for any similar improvement to occur, the human body must be forced to adapt to a tension that is above and beyond what it has previously experienced.
Here are 3 ways to progressively overload:
- INCREASE THE WEIGHT
Simply keep your reps the same every week, but increase the weight by 2-5%. If you’re beginner you can probably do this for a couple of months, before it then becomes time to follow a slower progression scheme.
- INCREASE THE REPS (at the same weight)
For example, let’s say we’ve someone who can squat 135lb for 3 sets in the 6-8 rep range
Week 1 – 135# x 6,6,6
Week 2 – 135# x 6,7,7
Week 3 – 135# x 8,8,7
Week 4 – 135# x 8,8,8
Then, you increase the weight and start building up from the bottom of the rep range again.
- IMPROVE YOUR FORM
An improvement in your form is also a type of progressive overload. Of course, you should never be lifting with poor form in the first place, so if your form isn’t textbook perfect, this would be the first place to start!
However, if you have been lifting with dodgy form and only doing half reps, then improving your form is actually a type of overload, because it is HARDER to perform exercises with good form.
You can also use Tempo workout as part of your form-correction. Add a slower lowering (eccentric) phase to your lift and include an isometric hold at bottom of the lift to increase time under tension. Doing quality reps are much harder than when you cheat and use poor form.
For example a 1-2 seconds concentric lift, followed by a 2-4 second isometric hold and a 3-5 second eccentric lowering of the weight.
MONITOR YOUR RPE
RPE stands for ‘rating of perceived exertion’. A 10/10 RPE means you were at muscular failure. A 9/10 means you had 1 rep left, 8/10 means you had 2 reps left etc.
Therefore if there’s a reduction in RPE, that means a set has become easier, meaning you’ve gained strength! Most of the time I’d advise that you stay between an RPE of 7-9 (which mean between 1 and 3 reps from failure).
Monitor your RPE, because its a good way to see if you are ready to progress your program.