After years of training and experimenting with many different workout approaches, I finally realized that there is only one approach to continuously building muscles. An approach that would guarantee a hypertrophy and strength, that is “PROGRESSIVE OVERLOAD.” If you've never heard of the term before, that's fine! I am going to go break it down, explain why it's important, and how to use it with a De-load phase.
Progressive Overload and De-load Week
PROGRESSIVE OVERLOAD is continuously adding more demands (whether it be weight/resistance, reps, volume, frequency, etc.) to exercises over a period of time.
Talking from a lesson learned, continuously lifting the same weight for the same reps and sets forever will never allow your body to see its full potential of muscle gain. With Progressive Overloading you would have to gradually increase the resistance or reps over time and doing this within a training program will help to build muscle mass.
Take your body and goal to the next level!
The concept is fairly simple to understand. However, gaining strength isn't linear. You're bound to hit plateaus in your training career. That doesn't mean Progressive Overload isn’t working , it means your body is asking for a De-load Week.
While we would all like to believe that we could go to the box and operate at maximum efficiency and power for months on end, we know that this simply isn’t the case. A DE-LOAD WEEK is a week of training in which you still go to the gym to workout, but the intensity and volume of your workouts are far easier to manage.
Example: Do your normal routine and normal volume (sets & reps) but reduce the weight you use to about 50-60%.
The Importance of Progressive Overload
Even though I mentioned progressive overload isn't as simple as adding weight and gaining strength, it's still the sole concept of most training programs over an extended period of time.
A good, tailored program will usually have you take De-load Weeks in between and/or have correctly structured cycles that overtime will give you significant gains.
To incorporate Progressive Overload you can easily add 5 lbs to each lift per workout.
For example, if Monday you lifted 3 x 5 for squats at 135 lbs, the next squat session you can attempt doing 3 x 5 at 140 lbs. The squat session after that would be 3 x 5 at 145 lb etc. You will keep doing this until you can't make significant progress. You will eventually need to do 2.5 lb increments. If some days you can’t increment the weight then increasing the reps for each set count instead. Your progress will be either incrementing weight or reps. Your max reps should stay at 12 for each set. Meaning, if you're incrementing the reps and reached 12 reps for that set without failure then it’s time to up the weight.