The law of overload is one of the first principles in exercise physiology, and no resistance program is successful without it. The key to building massive, powerful muscles is to increase the training weights you use. Overload must be approached using sound scientific training and common sense. Sure, you can do dumbbell curls while you lunge, but don’t con yourself into believing you are providing any sort of serious overload to your legs. Want real overload? Hit the squat rack. When it comes to making gains and adding size, the first and most obvious way is adding more weight. New Trainees should take advantage of this method. Increased increments of weight for new lifters should progress steadily over a period of two to three months before hitting a plateau. When plateaus are reached, periods of increased loading come into play. Half-pound plates added to a bench press weekly over the course of a year would equal a 52-pound gain, one pound plates would equal a 104-pound gain, so realize that micro-progression is progression to long term success.
This pace is undoubtedly impossible to maintain forever, so this is when you would increase the volume. Volume is increased by performing more sets with weight over 65 percent of a one-rep max. Anything less than is not heavy enough to have a real training effect. There are a number of ways to add volume to your routine. Try adding an extra set to your workout. If you benched 4 sets of 5 with 200 pounds last time, you performed 4000 pounds of volume- if you do 5 sets next week, that becomes 5000 pounds of volume. One extra set has a profound effect on total volume. As long as you don’t sacrifice intensity in the process, you’ll find that higher volume is superior for increasing strength and hypertrophy. Another alternative in making progression is to take a full range of motion exercise and turn it into an extended range of motion. The range of motion can have a huge impact on a movement. Examples of this would be deficit Deadlifts or snatch grip Deadlifts. A deficit Deadlift is performed while standing on a plate a couple of inches off the ground to increase the range of motion. While performing this movement with only 80 percent of a one-rep max, it is still more difficult than a regular Deadlift at the same weight. With snatch grip Deadlifts, by adding the extended grip, causes an overload in the movement, thus adding an extra level of difficulty.
Another way to catalyze hypertrophy- incorporate prolonged negatives into each repetition to increase muscular tension, while using explosive movements through the beginning of the movement. An example of this would be in curling a Barbell. In the initial movement of the curl, apply explosive force, while in the negative movement, slowly release back to starting position. This is known as the principle of retro-gravity. To add even more intensity, try doing the same amount of work with decreased rest intervals. More volume in less time will add gains to your strength once you have reached a maximum weight. In order to surpass a plateau, hypertrophy must be maintained, therefore shorter rest times are not an excuse for lighter weight!
For powerlifters, Olympic lifters, and anyone else that competes in specified lifts, the core lifts have to remain at the nucleus of the program- But for Bodybuilders or anyone just looking for a shredded set of wheels; front squats, leg extensions, Olympic pause squats, leg press, and many other variations can be incorporated for alternate workouts. Finally for increased hypertrophy, simply increase your intensity- train more often. Training in squats twice a week overloads your system more than squatting once a week.