Six Proven Overload Techniques for Muscle Gain

Tension builds muscle size- the more, the better. The only way you will get cannonball arms, boa constrictor back, washboard abs, or tree trunk legs is if you push your muscles to the max and then push them some more.

Tension causes small-muscle injuries that the body repairs by laying down new proteins. Also, tension draws amino acids—the chemical that make new protein—into the muscles and make them grow. High intensity workouts also turn on anabolic hormones—such as growth hormone, insulin, and testosterone—to go into overdrive and trigger muscles to make new protein. You will be amazed at how fast your muscles grow when you combine high-tension workouts with plenty of protein, calories, rest and muscle building supplements.

Lift one more pound or Do one more rep

Muscles grow when you overload them because they don’t like stress. When you work them hard during a bodybuilding workout, they lay down new proteins because larger muscles are hard to stress.

Muscles get used to stress quickly. If you do the same old workout every time you go to the gym, your muscles grow have no further need to make new muscles tissue. They will continue to get bigger only if you continually stress them more and more.

Increasing muscle strength and size takes time. You can’t expect to go from a novice to a bodybuilding champion overnight. Rather, it takes a series of adoptions: you stress the muscles and they get larger; you stress them more, and they get even larger; and so on. Your goals should be to make a series of small gains. Every workout, try to lift just one more pound or do one more rep than you did before. If you continually try to do just a little more than before, you will make gains.

Bodybuilders have six proven overload methods for making muscles grow: assisted rep, negative, drop sets, super sets, unilateral training and isolated movements on the power rack. Use them and you will get super muscle mass and definition.

Assisted reps: “the magic fingers”

Having a spotter help you with those last few, difficult reps is one of the easiest ways to get a high-tension workout. You can use this technique with any exercise. As the exercise gets difficult, have the spotter give you just enough assistance to finish the set.  Don’t give up during a difficult set. If you continue to push hard, you will need surprisingly little help from your spotter. That’s why they call it the magic fingers: the weight goes up with minimal assistance from the spotter; often only a finger on the bar will make it move. Assisted reps help you to produce maximum muscle tension and get the most from your workout.

Negative (Plyometrics)

Negative or eccentric muscle contractions create more muscle tension than any other form of exercise. During conventional weight lifts, such as a bench press or squat, you can lower more weight than you can push during the lift. You create more muscle tension by contracting the muscles eccentrically (lowering the weight) than contracting them concentrically (pushing the weight). Bodybuilders call eccentric exercises negatives.

You can do negatives fir almost all exercise. There are two basic ways to use this technique:

  1. Use more weight than you normally use. Lower the weight under control and then have a spotter help you raise the weight to the starting position.
  2. Use a normal weight, but lower the weight slowly into the pushing position. For example, when doing dumbbell bench negatives, lower the dumbbells to your chest slowly, and then push them back to the starting position quickly.

Drop sets

Do as many reps of an exercise as you can. Then, immediately drop the weight by 10 to 15 percent and try to squeeze out a few more reps. Keep going until you can’t do any reps. This technique is a killer but a tremendous muscle builder.

“Training down the rack” is a similar high-tension training method. Choose dumbbells heavy enough so that you can only complete five reps of the exercise. Take a 30 second rest and then move to the next-lightest set of dumbbells and do as many reps as you can. Rest 30 seconds and move to the next set of dumbbells. Continue down the rack until you can’t complete any more reps or you run out of dumbbells.

Super sets

This technique involves decreasing the resting time between sets. Many bodybuilders combine two or more exercises, doing either complementary exercises—such as dumbbell bench press and flies – or antagonistic exercise—such a leg extensions and leg curls. Your rest intervals between exercises should not exceed 30 seconds.

Some experts have criticized this technique because it cut down on the amount of weight you can use during each set. However, others say that it increases the overall muscle tension, which promotes growth.

Read more details about superset workout.

Unilateral training

Unilateral training—working out one side of the body at a time—is an effective overload method for building muscle mass and strength. Unilateral training takes more time than training both sides of the body at once, but it has some advantages that will make it a worthwhile alternate training method:

  • Unilateral training helps isolate muscle much better than training both sides of the body at once.
  • Unilateral training increases muscle blood flow better than bilateral training does. Muscle blood flow can be at least 50 to 100 percent greater during bilateral training. The greater blood flow, the more muscle-building amino acids you deliver to the working muscle.
  • Unilateral training improves muscle symmetry. Use this technique to correct strength or mass differences between limbs.
  • Unilateral training increases the strength of the inactive side. This is a little-known fact of neurophysiology. For example, if you do knee extension with your right legs, your left leg gets a small training effect—without doing anything. Granted, the gains are minimal, but they exist.

Isolated movements on the power rack

The power rack is great for overloading your muscles and helping you overcome sticking points in your lifts. Is can often get you over the hump when gains are difficult and allow you to use more weight tha is possible during unassisted exercise.

Use the rack during isolated parts of lifts; you can often handle more weight than during the regular exercise. For example, do power-rack bench presses with the bar set close to the lockout position. Do your lifts to failure on the rack. You will use much more weight than you ever could doing the entire lift, doing partial power rack lift will create more muscle tension and build larger muscle. The power rack is effective fir creating muscle-building tension during bench presses, inclines, squats, dead lifts, high pulls and curls. You can do many of these same power-rack exercises on a smith machine. This machine includes a bar attached to a track that allows isolated or full-range-of-motion exercise.

Final words. Overload techniques, although useful for stimulating new growth and increasing intensity, can very easily lead a natural physique into a state of overtraining. Listen to your body and its responses to these training methods to ensure that overtraining and its deleterious effects do not occur which may affect your training in subsequent sessions. Choose your methods wisely and ensure you adhere to the principle of progressive overload.


Leave a Comment