When it comes to how to grow muscle, you need to continuously challenge them with more than they’re used to. In other words: you need progressive overload. As simple as this sounds, most people’s training don’t accomplish progressive overload. Sure they’ll get a good pump and sweat out of their workouts but they aren’t actually doing much to signal their muscles to grow overtime. To understand the importance of progressive overload for hypertrophy, you should first know how muscles grow. So let’s say we just finished a workout. Immediately after, our muscles don’t actually get stronger. In fact, it’s not until after a few days of proper recovery that they adapt to the damage we put them through. Meaning? For consistent gains overtime, your workouts need to be designed such that they literally force your muscles to grow every single session. So, today, we’ll cover the 5 types of progressive overload you must know.
Increasing the amount of weight lifted is the progressive overload method most people rely on. To apply it, it’s quite straightforward. Let’s say you can currently bench press 100lbs for 8 reps. Next week, you might try to increase the load and do 110lbs for 8 reps. That said, if you take our previous example of bench pressing 100lbs in week 1 and adding 10lbs of weight every week, at the end of the year theoretically you should be benching 620lbs. That’s impossible. This is where our next point comes in handy.
When applied properly, adding more reps is another great way to incorporate progressive overload into your training to force your muscles to grow. As long as you’re continuing to push hard, you can keep the same weight and increase all the way up to 30 reps and still get the same growth compared to adding more weight. This is helpful if you only have limited equipment or a nagging injury and can’t increase the weight on your lifts. However for those who do have access to more weights, consider double progression. However, again this often only works for so long. What happens when you get stuck unable to add more weight or do more reps?
The next method of progressive overload to stimulate hypertrophy has to do with how many sets you perform. However, while ee know doing at least 10 sets per muscle-group per week nearly doubles the amount of gains you would get from doing 5 sets per muscle group per week, there comes a point of diminishing returns when you get into the 20-30 set zone. A good rule of thumb is to increase volume no more than 10-20% per week. Then, once you get to the 20-30 set zone or just begin to feel quite fatigued, you can cycle back to the original program you started with.
The next two types of progressive overload are ways you can continue forcing your muscles to grow while lifting the same weight and doing the same number of reps and sets every week. First: if we slow down our reps, we can increase the amount of time that tension is placed on the muscle to stimulate more growth. This is especially effective for exercises involving smaller, weaker muscle groups like lateral raises where adding just a little bit of weight disproportionately often increases the difficulty, or bodyweight exercises like push-ups and pull-ups where adding weight may not even be an option. However, you want to avoid going too slow as that can provide the opposite effect and start to hinder muscle growth rather than boost it. Note: it seems that we can slow down our reps up to about 6 seconds total.
Oftentimes when people think they are challenging their muscles more by adding more weight to their lifts, they really just end up compromising their form in the process. Instead, realize that when it comes to how to grow muscle, if you do the same workout you did the week before, but you performed your exercises with better control, less momentum, and more activation of your target muscles, that is progression. Better form involves relying more on the target muscles and will result in growth even if all other variables remain the same.
Now as for which of these 5 methods is best and will provide the most growth, the truth is, it depends. It depends on your level of experience, your equipment availability, and if there’s a certain type of plateau you’re stuck in. The best way to find out is to experiment with them and see what works best for you. But if you’re looking for a step by step program that takes care of all the guesswork for you and ensures that week by week you’re challenging your body in the right way to consistently build muscle and lose fat, just take our analysis quiz to find out which of our programs is best for you and your body below:
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32 thoughts on “How To FORCE Muscle Growth (5 Science-Based Methods)”
Hope you enjoyed this one! For those interested you can read the full article at https://builtwithscience.com/progressive-overload-techniques/ ! Let me know what you’d like to see next! Cheers!
calves. you have em, I need em. lets work something out.
When are there new programs coming out? 🙂
I hate the concept of adding girls to attract the attention of men to the video but the content is good
@Ahmed Mohamed I agree. That moment at 7:44 was unnecessary. It signals to men watching this video that it’s ok to respond to women at the gym in this way. That is never OK.
Do you have a tictoc ?
Yes but remember, progress is the result of growth, not necessarily what causes it. Optimize you lifestyle to perform the best each workout is important too.
@tmmnago sleep is an important part of recovery, so that’s wrong. Also, simply adding volume throughout the day in such small quantities will do nothing to challenge the muscles to grow, so that’s wrong. Care to try again?
@tmmnago You’re completely leaving out the most important things that need to be optimized. They are sufficient nutrition for your weight goal, sufficient recovery time and sleep. You can’t be calling someone out for making excuses then offer run of the mill advice without knowing his lifestyle, goals, medical status, age etc. You’re not providing meaningful tips on progressive overload which could have included a rep range, which to overload between reps, sets or intensity
@Tom Hi Tom, I’d like to help you but it’s hard without exchanging personal information such has height, age, weight and your goal etc so I’m going to tell you what I do and hope it helps you. I’m not sure of your level so just skip what you already know
Firstly, concentrate on the most important and often overlooked aspects of your lifestyle. Make sure that your nutrition and sleep is in check. Then know your goal. Do you want to gain muscle or lose fat? Some can do both depending on if you’re a new trainer, untrained trainer, overweight, or if you haven’t really been training properly. Those people just need to train at maintenance or at a defecit. But let’s focus on one or the other. If you want to gain muscle, eat in a caloric surplus no more than 300KCal. If you want to lose fat, you want to eat in a defecit of between 300KCal to 500KCal. You can calculate your Basal Metabolic Index online so you don’t have to worry about that stuff, but I use a Fitbit which does all of the thinking work for me. Make sure you’re consuming 0.8g to 1g of protein per pound of in body weight. For example, I weight 170pounds so I consume 170g of protein. The majority of the rest of my food goes to fibrous carbohydrates and then the smaller portion goes to starchy carbohydrates and the smallest to healthy fats such as yogurt, nuts, avo. Be careful with fats. It’s very important you don’t exclude it from your diet but remember that it has the most calories per pound of all the food groups. Look up exactly how how you should divide your food groups in percentages. Some advice differ from each other but if you’re keeping track of your macronutrients you’ll be able to work it out for yourself in time
For the weight lifting, choose a weight that you can do a rep range where you fail at anywhere between 8 – 25, preferably at around 10 – 12 to keep it simple. In your first week, start with each muscle group at 6 sets per week, divided them by two so you can train those muscles twice a week. So on the first day of training pecs for example, do 3 sets on Monday and then 3 sets on Friday do another 3 sets. Week 2, you can either increase your reps by 2, or the weight by 1kg (2lbs), or increase by adding one or 2 sets. I prefer to add reps each week, then when I know I can’t increase anymore, I increase the weight, then when I get to the same amount of reps as when I was lifting lighter I add a set or 2. If you continue this for between 6 – 8 weeks you will have lifted more in reps, weight and more sets at around 12 – 16 sets per week per muscle group. At the end of your 8 weeks, you need to do a deload week. This will be your easy week where you allow your muscles and central nervous system a week off. You can either do half the amount of reps, sets and weights as you finished off on in week 8, or you can take the entire week off. Do not go heavy on your deload week. Rest is important
When you start off on week 1 again, start with just 6 sets per week again, don’t go all the way to failure, but go close to the weight you ended off on in week 8 but just drop the reps by 2 – 4 and proceed to week 8 again
I prefer the Upper / Lower / Arms split because I dedicate a day to just arms because they’re lagging, but you can do an Upper / Lower split, a Push / Pull / Leg split or a Full Body split. You can also do a Bro split where you train just one muscle group per day but because your muscles only need 72 hours rest, you’d be wasting frequency (2 to 3 times per muscle)
For cardio, don’t underestimate walking. I used to go nuts with HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training) but I learned that it interferes with muscle growth. So do 1 session of HIIT per week and then do a 30 to 40 minute walk every day. On days that you do HIIT, make sure that it’s not on a weight lifting day, or at least do it after a gym session. Please get yourself some sort of calorie tracker. It helped me a lot
Finally, and this is a big one. If you’re REALLY pressed for time because of your job and never can really get in a good workout session, look up something called Myo Rep training. Because of my busy schedule, I now use this method. All I need is a maximum of 20 minutes for an entire gym session. This is the biggest advice I can give you. Do your research on Myo Rep training and it’ll change the way you think of how long you need to be in the gym
I hope that there weren’t too much I’ve mentioned that you don’t already know
@Tom If it’s a school/work thing then what I do to optimize my lifestyle as best as I can is eat what I typically have for lunch for breakfast instead and vice versa. Since I eat oatmeal for breakfast all I need is some hot water for my oatmeal packets and I’m good, while my usual lunch meal (Chicken and brown rice) I eat the moment I wake up before getting ready for the day ie brush my teeth, shower, etc. Since I also have a protein smoothie in the middle of the day, I make that and drink it as the days goes on until I come back home for dinner.
@Tom when I say optimize, I mean to do it at a personalized level, not something out of a textbook. Consider what you can change in your lifestyle, like minimize excessive stress, opt for “better” food choices, stay hydrated, get a quiet and deep night sleep, etc. There are much to learn about this topic, but do what you feel to be suitable for you.
Its all about Dedication and consistency.
Yep consistency is key.
It’s about DRIVE
Great video with a huge amount of information. You are amazing Jeremy thank you man
here are some ways by which you can apply progressive overload
1. more weight
2. more reps
3. paused reps
4. slower reps
5. faster and more reps
8. if wt or reps not increasing, add one more set
9. improving your form and feeling the targeted muscle work better than last time is also progressive overload
@Ivan Good idea for a lot of people who rest more than a minute between sets. Jeremy and others I follow have said in past videos that to maximize growth, it’s best to keep rests between about 30 to 60 seconds. Less than that is hardly a rest, anyway, unless you are purposely doing drop sets.
I have a question about recovery, especially rest days.
So of course after a workout I feel tired and fatigued, but after just an hour or two, I don’t feel any fatigue left. So I don’t take any rest days and workout everyday.
Is that fine?
@Gigguk Bangbangbang i used to feel exactly like that but overtime fatigue builds up and then youll become tired both mentally and physically and just not interested in your workouts, so its better to take rest days and let the muscles recover than to keep training and adding up junk volume.
@Dashing Partycrasher! I used to keep my rest times around the 30-60 second mark. But I had to increase it to 90 seconds since my body wasn’t getting enough rest and, for exercises involving the back, an injury I recieved in the past so I have no choice but to do it that way.
I just want to say I feel like like you were experimenting with different energy in your videos and I think this is perfect. This video was very informative with no over the top excess hype with upbeat music that makes you hard to hear.
How do we know when our muscles finish recovering after doing a strenous workout? Like if I did a really good chest session on monday, when would my muscles be recovered from that session?
After 48 to 72 hours, if you don’t feel any soreness it means you are good for the next session
great information as usual. Keep up the good work
Normal people use photoshop to get muscle.
Jeremy use photoshop to remove muscle.
watching this after 5 years of training, reminds me to go back to the basics with some excercises!
Isn’t decreasing rest time also a form of progressive overload?
I don’t know why but it felt like a complete video
Great video. I thought most of the advice would be obvious, it was not.
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