Learn How to Build Muscle

Accelerate Muscle Growth with Progressive Overload

There are many different things your can do to accelerate muscle growth, but perhaps the most important is the principle of progressive overload. Using this principle will help you build muscle faster and more efficiently than any other method.

This article will explain progressive overload, how it can be applied to your training to accelerate muscle growth and give you a sample routine to help you understand.

Progressive overload is one of the fundamental principles of fitness. It was used for the rehabilitation of soldiers, and developed by Thomas Delorme, M.D. after World War II.

Progressive overload can be defined as the gradual increase of stress placed on the body during training. To increase strength and muscle mass, the muscle need to be overloaded. This stimulates physiological processes within the human body, and new muscle is built that is able to handle the stress more effectively.

There are several ways to overload the body during a workout routine. First, the total volume of weight lifted can be increased. For example, if last week you were squatting 150lbs, this week you may try 155lbs. Secondly, your intensity can be increased.

This is accomplished by altering the tempo of your lifts, or by decreasing rest time in between sets and exercises. Lastly, the time between working muscle groups can be decreased. If you are lifting legs on Monday, but haven’t been seeing results, you may want to train them Monday and Friday.

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The second concept of progressive overload that is important to know is Periodization. Periodization is the act of scheduling or making a workout routine that incorporates the progressive increase of volume, intensity and rest with adequate rest time. This is often a long term program and can vary from period to period depending on the lifter, their progress, and their motivation.

Setting goals is crucial to progressive overload and periodization. If you bench press 200 but want to bench press 225 in 3 months, you need to set up a program that gradually works up to that weight while taking into account rest days or periods.

Here is a sample chest workout routine which utilizes the principle of progressive overload (with workout A and workout B being performed on different days):

Workout A

Warm Up: 10-15 minutes
Flat Barbell Bench Press: 4 sets, 8-10 reps
Cable Crossovers: 3 sets, 8-10 reps
Incline Bench Press: 3 sets, 8-10 reps
Dumbbell Flys: 3 sets, 8-10 reps

Workout B

Warm Up: 10-15 minutes
Flat Barbell Bench Press: 5 sets, 8-10 reps
Cable Crossovers: 4 sets, 10-12 reps
Incline Bench Press: 4 sets, 10-12 reps
Dumbbell Flys: 4 sets, 10-12 reps

As you can see, this routine increase the number of sets and the number of repetitions performed during Workout B. If you wish, you can also increase the weight used during Workout A, since you will be performing less sets and repetitions. This workout can be modified for most any body part, and you will start to see results almost immediately with the introduction of progressive overload.

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