Archive for the tag - gain muscle

Overload Vs. Fatigue.

Overload Vs. Fatigue: What's the difference?

Anyone looking to increase their muscle mass should be familiar with the term progressive overload.

Developed by Thomas Delorme, M.D. to help rehabilitating World War II soldiers, progressive overload is the the gradual increase of stress placed on the body during exercise training. It’s based on the brilliantly simple but scientifically-proven concept that muscles won’t grow unless they’re forced to do so – and progressively overloading your muscles is the most effective way to do just that; it’s a technique that body builders have been using for decades.

There are a number of ways to progressively overload a muscle during exercise, but the most common is adding additional resistance. If you’re new to working out, you may be able to increase the amount of resistance or weight that you’re working with by 5 – 10%. For seasoned gym-goers, 2% – 5% may be more realistic.

For example, you may typically do 3 sets of 8 repetitions of biceps curls with 50 pound weights. You’re progressively overloading your muscles if you reach for the 52.5 or 55 pound dumbbells instead. You may not be able to do each set of 8 repetitions initially, but over time you’ll be able to build back up – and then reach for heavier weights yet again.

Overload is sometimes confused with fatigue.

Fatigue is when your muscles are tired. Certainly, overloading your muscles will lead to fatigue – but they’re not one in the same; there are any number of ways to fatigue your muscles. For example, doing a huge number of bicep curls with a light weight will eventually fatigue your muscles. And it may even result in some small gains in mass, but it’s certainly not the most effective technique for muscle growth.

The problem is that many people leave the gym with fatigued muscles – and thus assume that their workout is effective in achieving their muscle mass goals. Unfortunately, this isn’t true. Fatigued muscles aren’t so important as the process by which they became fatigued. For efficient and effective muscle gains, overloading is a great long-term strategy.

Answered: Which Muscle Building Theory Works Best?

Hey Davey,

I’ve started working out this year at college, but before I do I did what a good college kid does and researched what the best way to gain or define muscle is, and I found two different theories.

The first theory is that you need to go all or nothing, meaning you have to lift as much weight as you can for as long as you can, and each time you work out you add extra weight to it.

The second one is working out with any weights, at least an amount that has resistance, to the point of muscle exhaustion.

I wanted to know your take on these two theories and which you follow by or would advise others to follow.

Thanks!
Kevin

Hey Kevin,

The short answer is that it depends on your goals.

The first theory that you mentioned is more in line with gaining muscle mass. If you want to add bulk, perform exercises with large amounts of resistance (i.e., heavy weights) until you reach muscle failure. To make increases in size and strength, you’ll want to aim for 7 to 12 repetitions of each exercise. You’ll want to be fully fatigued on your last repetition – and, if you’re not, increase the resistance. In order to continue adding bulk, you’ll need to work with greater amounts of resistance (i.e., move to heavier weights) over time. This process is called progressive overload.

The second theory that you mentioned is more in line with endurance training. Endurance training is useful for athletes and individuals looking for sustained strength over longer periods of time rather than adding bulk. You’d user lighter weights and aim for 12 – 15 repetitions of each exercise set.

I hope this helps!

Love,
Davey

Ask Davey Wavey your fitness or nutrition questions!

No Longer Sore After Workout: Am I Doing Something Wrong?

Hi Davey,

I’ve been getting back in to shape lately by going to the gym 2 – 3 times a week. When I first started, my muscles would become sore 1 – 2 days after my workout. Recently I’m finding that my muscles don’t become sore in the slightest. I am increasing the amount I lift but I’m cautious because I’m still getting back into it and I don’t want to harm my muscles.

Does this lack of soreness or stiffness in my muscles mean I’m not working hard enough?

Thanks and much love,
Eric

Hey Eric,

Congratulations on getting back into the swing of things and renewing your commitment to exercise!

First things first, muscle soreness that occurs 12 – 48 hours after exercise is called Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness (DOMS) – and it’s a good thing. Immediate muscle soreness or pain, on the other hand, is often related to injury – and immediate medical attention is encouraged. Since the soreness you experienced is the former, there’s no need for concern.

When exercisers start a new routine (just as you did), muscle soreness is very common. Since the new workout is a shock to the body, muscle soreness is a likely result. But, over time, the body will adjust – and soreness will tend to decrease. This is all very natural and part of the process.

Though many people become addicted to feeling sore after exercise, soreness isn’t required for muscle growth. Provided you have an effective strategy to target muscle growth, your muscles will continue to grow even if you don’t experience discomfort.

In this way, the age-old adage of “no pain, no gain” is certainly a fallacy.

Love,
Davey

What Are Drops Sets & How Can You Use Them?

For serious muscles like these, drops sets are an effective strength training technique.

Drops sets are a strength training technique wherein you perform a set of any exercise to failure (or just short of failure) – and then drop some weight and continue for additional repetitions with the reduced resistance. Once failure is again reached, additional resistance is dropped and so on.

Drop sets are great for bodybuilders or individuals looking to make gains in muscle size. Simply put, few other training techniques can break down muscle fibers as effectively as drop sets – so if you incorporate drop sets into your routine, you will see significant gains in mass. However, drop sets are not advised for athletes or people looking for gains in strength. Moreover, most athletes want strength or speed without the bulk – and so drop sets will be at odds with their goals.

To perform a drop set, select an amount of resistance that will result in muscle failure after 8 – 12 reps. While you’ve reached failure, you haven’t reached absolute failure; quickly decrease the amount of weight by about 15% and continue. After 8 or so reps, you’ll hit failure again. Reduce the resistance by another 15% and continue. Keep going.

Obviously, drop sets require some planning. Since rest time should be between zero and ten seconds, they’re most popular on machines; adjusting the weight is as quick as changing a pin. If you do drop sets on a barbell, you may need to work with a spotter and/or load the barbell with lots of small weight plates for faster adjustments. If you work with dumbbells, line them up on the floor in advance – and simply work your way down the line.

If you’re purely looking for gains in mass, then drop sets are a great technique to try occasionally try out and incorporate! I think you’ll be pleased with the results.

Tips for Exercising Without Getting Huge!

Hey Davey,

I’m really on again off again about my fitness. It’s because I gain muscle SO quickly. I’ll work out really solidly for about 3 months and then start looking like a man and back off.

What should I do to prevent myself from turning into a body builder, but still keeping my muffin top on the shelf and off my tummy?

Thanks,
Sarah

Hey Sarah,

You’re not alone – and your desire to tone without looking like a bodybuilder is one that knows no gender. Many guys are in the same boat. The desire to be healthy and fit without becoming overly developed or huge is both common and achievable.

In general, I advise concerned clients to fear not – and that it actually takes a lot of deliberate and intense training to develop the muscular build of a bodybuilder. It doesn’t happen by accident, and it’s especially challenging for women due to hormonal differences.

In your email, you mentioned that you gain muscle quickly. To prevent this, you can simply change the way you train; your body will respond differently.

Training for muscle growth usually involves a low number of repetitions (10 or under) at high levels of resistance. The last repetition should result in muscle failure – that is, you’d be unable to do one more rep. Moreover, someone looking to build muscle would constantly progress to higher levels of resistance.

Since you don’t want muscle growth, modify your routine to train for definition and strength. Perform a high number of repetitions (10 or more – try 15!). Since you’re doing more reps, you’ll obviously need a lighter weight. If you’re satisfied with the amount of muscle on your body, then there is no need to progress to heavier weights or higher levels of resistance. And because you’ll be staying at one set level of resistance, you’ll probably find that you’re not reaching muscle failure on your last rep – and that’s fine.

You can also shift more of your workout to cardio, and/or spend a bit less time in the weight room.

So fear not! You can enjoy the benefits of exercise without worrying about bulking up.

I hope this helps!

Love,
Davey