A focus on lifting heavier might be costing you gains

I’m seeing a couple of big problems keep showing up with people in the gym around the fact they’re only focusses are lifting heavy and seeing their numbers go up on their basic lifts. This is coming from a misunderstanding of what progressive overload means in the context of building muscle AND wether there is a requirement for certain basic movements to be in your program at all times.

First on progressive overload - yes the only way you will get a muscle to keep growing is progressive overload but all this means is REQUIRING MORE WORK out of the muscle over time. Lifting heavier weights MIGHT be ONE way to force this greater workload out of the muscle. Problem is - at some point the weight becomes so heavy that the work shifts to SURROUNDING muscles away from the TARGET muscle.

Say you’re doing dumbbell chest presses with 17.5kg and can feel the pecs work through every inch of that range, with a good stretch and a quality squeeze either end of the rep. You do 10 reps. Next week, you pick up the 22.5kg dumbbells and do 10 reps on the same movement. This time though you lost feeling on your pecs through portions of the range, you weren’t able to get as deep into a controlled stretch, you didn’t feel your pecs moving the weight because your triceps and delts were starting to take over, and at the end of the reps you didn’t have the control to get a good squeeze. You still moved the weight through its range though and got 10 reps. You DID NOT progressively overload the pecs. You think you did, but in fact you regressed and actually put LESS TENSION through the pecs this week because EVERYTHING ELSE WAS DOING THE WORK. By the numbers, you went up from last week. In terms of getting growth out of your pecs, you went backwards.

Remember progressing in terms of bodybuilding should be understood as: requiring more work out of the target muscle than it is used to. You can do this through intensifiers like stretch holds, eccentrics, isometrics, drop sets, cluster sets, etc OR by increasing how often you hit the muscle OR increasing the weight lifted WHILE MAINTAINING THE EXACT SAME FORM etc.

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    Now in terms of the necessity of certain movements in your program - there’s basic movements which most of you should be doing if you have the mobility to execute them properly BUT they don’t need to be in your program year round. And in fact they shouldn’t be. How many of you have been squatting every single leg session for the last year? Or deadlifting? Or bench pressing every time you’ve trained chest since you started training?
    My golden rule is you should be doing these movements as long as they feel good and excite you. AS SOON as they start to become a drag (most common with Barbell Squats and Deadlifts) then PULL THEM OUT of your program for a few weeks or even months. Find other ways to hit the target muscles, you’ll probably get better results because its new for your body and training won’t be a DRAINER. Pretty soon you’ll miss those movements again and you can bring them back into your program. I notice this one most with Back Squats - if they’re such a drainer that you’re skipping leg days because of it then SWAP THEM OUT. Even just swapping with a smith machine squat for high reps or slow eccentrics or something can be a good way to break up the monotony.
    Need help with your training / dieting? Message us! We’ve transformed so many physiques by now we’ve lost count!

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