Best Bodybuilding Tips – The Cornerstone Of Muscle Growth

By

Vince Del Monte, WBFF Pro Fitness Model, Certified Fitness Trainer
and Nutritionist and author of No Nonsense Muscle
Building.

I am going to share a famous quote I heard by Peter Drucker, “Do first things first, and second things not at all.” And we are going to tie this into the cornerstone, the bedrock if you will, of muscle growth.

What is the cornerstone of muscle growth?  How do you guarantee a shredded and muscular physique?  By applying the principle of progressive overload – the best bodybuilding tip of all time.

If you’re saying, “I know that already…”

Do you?

The mirror might say differently.

If you look the same as last month or last year then you know the principle as an insight which is level 0 learning as discussed last post.  The goal today is to help you to move toward level 1 learning (behavior change) and eventually level 2 learning (a transformation).

Would you agree that it’s easy to live within your comfort zone while you work out?  It’s easy to do what is comfortable and familiar.  It’s challenging to attack the highest priority and stay focused on the highest priority.   But what should be your highest priority? You can’t tell between the forest and the trees.

You suffer from over-choice: high reps or low reps, free weights or machines, heavy or light weights, split routines or full body muscle building routines, compound exercises or isolation exercises, slow tempo or fast tempo, cardio or no cardio, low carbs or high carbs – okay, you get the point. The world of weight training can be a confusing landscape.

When you’re flooded with possibilities that can accelerate your muscle growth or put the brakes on your gains, it might be wise to answering questions like, “What is the highest leverage point to set up the conditions for inevitable change?”  That just means, “What is my best tool to gain head-turning muscle that cause girls to take a second look and make guys secretly jealous?”

If you have know idea what the highest leverage point is then let me share your “first thing” when it comes to building massive guns, bowling ball shoulders and a button-popping chest.

The History Of Progressive Overload And Why It’s The Best Body Building Tip

You have probably heard of the story of Milo. The story is based on Milo taking a very young calf and lifting it onto his shoulders once a day, every day. As the calf grew, Milo found himself gradually lifting a heavier and heavier calf each day, until one day he was carrying a full-grown steer.

This time, when you read my version of the Milo story, I want you to substitute your name in for his so you began to visualize how Milo’s little experiment exploited the fact that your body is adaptable to the body you deserve. Ready?  Don’t forget to substitute your name for Milo’s now:

Milo, was a young man who had a fascination with becoming as strong as possible and building a body he could be proud of. Milo didn’t read the bodybuilding magazines and had no interest in using over-hyped bodybuilding supplements as a crutch.  Milo, was very smart and did not get caught up in all the misinformation that personal trainers and so called “experts” tried to brain wash him with. Milo was determined to get strong with the simplest means necessary.

Milo joined the local 24-Hour Fitness and decided to start using the 5 pound weights at the far end of rack. The next workout Milo picked up the 10 pound weights and the following week he used the 15 pound weights. Milo refused to use the same weights twice and eventually was working at the opposite end of the rack. Over the next 12-months Milo was using the 100 pound weights for many of his exercises.  Milo became thicker and stronger as he moved up the rack each week and slowly said moved towards new territory in his gym.  Milo is now the guy in the gym, on the streets and at the beach who everyone stares at and asks for advice.  Milo is a living example of what happens when you contract your muscles against greater resistance than they are used to, they’ll grow bigger and/or stronger.

My Version Of Progressive Overload:

Your muscles have zero interest in growing or getting bigger, in fact, they would rather sleep and watch TV all day.  Getting super buff, ripped and muscular is your goal, not your bodies.  God created your body to survive, not to be strong and beautiful.  Get that through your head.

When you visit the gym and expose your body to the same intensity as last week, your muscles laugh back at you and say, “Nice try, that was your attempt at challenging us?”  Once your body must cope with a new stress it says, “Holy crap, what’s your problem?  I don’t want to ever experience that discomfort and stress again so I am going to build some new muscle to protect myself.”  It’s like when you lie in the sun to get a tan.  Your body darkens to protect you from further attack or damage.

How To Apply This Principle In Today’s Workout

  • Lift 5 pounds heavier than last week.
  • Lift the same weight as last week but add one extra rep i.e “The Money Rep”
  • Lift the same weight with the same reps but take a 15 second shorter rest period.
  • Take an extra 2 seconds to lower the weight.
  • Move the same weight as last week through a greater range of motion.
  • Do the same weight and number of reps but add one extra set.

Note: You must apply at least 1 of these techniques to successfully achieve progressive overload.  It’s best to choose one technique and stick with it until you plateau for 2 workouts in a roll. Applying this principle is your highest leverage point and the “first thing” before considering “second things.”

The principle of progressive overload meets Pareto’s 80/20 Rule too.  This means that 80% of your results will come from 20% of the tools available. Continue exposing your body to unaccustomed stress and you’ll continue to give your muscles a reason to explode muscular growth all over your frame and you’ll be the talk of your gym.

Do me a favor and share your favorite progressive overload technique.  What’s getting you the best results these days?  Anything new or cool that you’ve tried that you want to share?  Let’s hear what you got to say by sharing below.

Vince

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Comments

58 thoughts on “Best Bodybuilding Tips – The Cornerstone Of Muscle Growth

  1. Great article. I especially like the tip about specific body building tips. Thank you

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  2. I am trying to mix match the weight every time, not increasing it but some time do more reps with less weights. To lift heavier weight we need to boost our energy and strength and I think Ligandrol lgd 4033 works best not just to increase strength but also bulk the muscle. The best part is that, it doesn’t have any side effect. I think use of SARM will also benefit to bulk up and tone the body.

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  4. Wonderful website. Lots of useful info here. I am sending it to some friends ans also sharing in delicious. And naturally, thanks for your sweat!

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  5. Usually I don’t read article on blogs, but I would like to say that this write-up very forced me to try and do so! Your writing style has been surprised me. Thanks, quite nice article.

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  12. My response to Lucky :

    # Lucky on December 18th, 2008 12:03 pm

    Andrew, no I don’t mean to do the SET faster but the entire workout faster. Did you read Vince’s program? You have specific lifting times, how long you raise the weight and how long you lower it. So you can’t change that. But what you can do is make sure you don’t cheat on your rest periods, which are sometimes 30 seconds. So the overall time is shorter. Also I didn’t state that you try to do more on your last set, I don’t know how you got that. It’s about how much work you do per body part and overall and surpassing that workload the next workout. THAT is progressive overload and that’s why you should complete the required reps in a set before moving on to the bigger weight.

    TOTALLY AGREE WITH YOU. REST PERIODS- I NEED TO READ MORE PROFESSIONAL RESEARCH ON THIS. I KNOW ABOUT IT, BUT IT DOESN’T MAKE TOO MUCH SENSE. IF YOU TAKE LESS REST, YOU LIFT LESS WEIGHT. IF YOU TAKE MORE REST, YOU LIFT MORE WEIGHT. IF YOU LIFT MORE WEIGHT, THEN MORE FORCE APPLIED TO A RECRUITMENT PATTERN OVER TIME, WHICH RESULTS IN MUSCLE GROWTH. I JUST SWITCH IT UP BASED ON MY GOAL OF THE ROUTINE. SHORTER REST PERIODS DEF HELP OUT WITH TEACHING YOUR BODY TO FIGHT THROUGH FATIGUE, GREAT FOR SOCCER, BASKETBALL, AND LAX PLAYERS.

    # Lucky on December 18th, 2008 12:10 pm

    Oh yes and you DON’T hit the same exact muscle fibers when you do the second set or the third set or the forth one. You recruit more and more muscle fibers because the muscle is forced to do so to lift the weight on the other sets, which equals to maximum muscle fiber recruitment for that body part. This is proven actually and it recruits more muscle fibers than with just one set. Aldo if you do only one set, that set is never the maximum of work you can preform but in most cases the second or the third one or one of the following, this is because you need to activate your neuromuscular connections (one of the most important things) first and if you perform just one set you won’t do that.

    I DISAGREE WITH YOUR TOTAL STATEMENT. THE ONLY WAY YOU HIT MORE OR DIFFERENT FIBERS IS IF YOU CHANGE THE DIRECTION OF RESISTANCE OR DO MORE THAN YOU DID THE PREVIOUS WORKOUT. I SUGGEST YOU RESEARCH HOW THE MUSCLE FIBERS ARE ACTUALLY RECRUITED DURING EXERCISE. SLOW TWITCH FIRST THAN FAST TWITCH.

    if you do only one set, that set is never the maximum of work you can preform but in most cases the second or the third one or one of the following, this is because you need to activate your neuromuscular connections (one of the most important things) first and if you perform just one set you won’t do that.

    I ACTIVATE MY NEUROMUSCULAR CONNECTIONS EVEN BEFORE I START LIFTING THE SET. WHAT DO YOU THINK TELLS YOUR MUSCLES TO MOVE? IF IT AIN’T YOUR CNS, THEN YOU ARE NOT WORKING OUT. IF YOU JUST PAVED YOUR DRIVE WAY, WOULD YOU REPAVE IT? NO, BECAUSE IT WOULD REQUIRE YOU TO WORK MORE AND USE VALUABLE RESOURCES TO REPAVE IT WHEN IT DOESN’T NEED TO BE DONE. THE SAME WITH EXERCISE. WHY DO TWO OR THREE SETS, WHEN YOU CAN DO ONE. I AM NOT SAYING THAT YOU ALWAYS HAVE TO LIMIT YOUR SELF TO ONE SET, BUT IF YOU’VE BEEN DOING 3 OR 4 SETS FOR EACH EXERCISE, I THINK THAT YOU MIGHT BE OVERDOING IT AND HINDERING YOUR CHANCES OF SUCCESS.

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  13. I don’t belong to a gym and I use an older bowflex gym. It only has 310 lbs of resistance so I’ve learned to do some exercises unilaterally. Because of this, I find that adding an extra rep or set, or varying my rest periods helps a great deal with the progresive overload. I’m 52 and in the best shape of my life. I’m stronger, leaner and more buff looking. Do I look as good as Vince? Who does?! But my wife loves my body and strength. That’s all I need!

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  14. hello master ur tips r really great,its very use ful to me.

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  15. last few days only i started to go for gym after a one year gap.i think your stuff is good for me so i’ll tell about my workout after few days.

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  16. To bring this to a point here….progressive overload is a way to make muscle gains since the body is an adaptive machine. The list Vince gave are ways in which you can achieve a progressive overload. If you do the same workout with the same weights and reps, you will just maintain what you already have and your muscles will say: “Ummm, been there done that, I guess you are taking it easy today?” You HAVE to push your body and make it uncomfortable to see gains.

    Really, working out too often and with too many sets/reps will just mean over training, so when you do train, you are just working up to the last 2 reps of any set since those of are the 2 that you want to go to muscular failure. So really, you are actually only doing a handful of intense sets per workout. Don’t waste your time with too many sets, warm-up, stretch, do a set or two in a particular exercise and then go for it! This way you have maximum energy to go to failure and stimulate the muscles. Compound movements done with max intensity is the key. Rest and nutrition is where you will see the results of your efforts.

    Keep your body adapting to new stimulus. Progressive overload is the key to this, period.

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  17. Oh yes and you DON’T hit the same exact muscle fibers when you do the second set or the third set or the forth one. You recruit more and more muscle fibers because the muscle is forced to do so to lift the weight on the other sets, which equals to maximum muscle fiber recruitment for that body part. This is proven actually and it recruits more muscle fibers than with just one set. Aldo if you do only one set, that set is never the maximum of work you can preform but in most cases the second or the third one or one of the following, this is because you need to activate your neuromuscular connections (one of the most important things) first and if you perform just one set you won’t do that.

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  18. Andrew, no I don’t mean to do the SET faster but the entire workout faster. Did you read Vince’s program? You have specific lifting times, how long you raise the weight and how long you lower it. So you can’t change that. But what you can do is make sure you don’t cheat on your rest periods, which are sometimes 30 seconds. So the overall time is shorter. Also I didn’t state that you try to do more on your last set, I don’t know how you got that. It’s about how much work you do per body part and overall and surpassing that workload the next workout. THAT is progressive overload and that’s why you should complete the required reps in a set before moving on to the bigger weight.

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  19. First of all THANKS A LOT Vince you are inspiring me to get from size S to XL. The thing that works for me is when i finish the exercises of a certain muscle i go kill it and pick up a light weight and do as much reps that i could until i cant lift it again and the next week ill lift the same weights i lifted up last week easier. Congradulations for your brother Vince!!

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  20. Good stuff Vince… some advice for your speech, in the middle, just cough while saying “DONT DO IT”… haha jk. Best of luck to your brother, I am sure the speech will be terrefic, you are a good speaker.

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  21. hi vince! i followed all ur pieces of advice im geting stronger now a days but my weight still stagnant at 140 lbs. i want to gain atlease 20 lbs of lean muscle, i ate 6 small meals a day but nothing happened

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  22. With out doubt my favorite overload techniques are:

    1-Keeping a record of exactly what i lifted previously, time, weight, reps so that i know exactly what i need to lift the next time.
    2-Rest and food so that i’ve got the energy and rebuilt muscle to go harder the next time.

    I can’t believe how many people out there don’t use these basic techniques, they think that they need to take their muscle to failure or use some crazy method for what? They don’t even know the load they are putting on their muscles, or how much food they are putting into their bodies. For me i generally find that the number one reason why i stop gaining results is i’m no longer eating enough for the muscle mass i’ve now got, step it up again and away i go. All without having to apply chains to a bench press, seriously don’t ask…

    Regards

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  23. William "Bill" Lyles December 18, 2008 at 12:27 am - Reply

    I’m 60 years old and started your workout routine when I was 59 in February 08. I was doing great for about 3 months, Vince, when I deviated from the routine after hearing an interview you did with a gentleman that I cannot recall his name. His routine was cycle workout oriented…carrying the rep’s to failure. Limited by the weights that I have to workout with, I tried improvising. One rep was the dead-lift. The maximum I have is 160 lbs and it wasn’t enough to bring to failure with minimum reps. So, I raised it to my chest hoping that I could realize failure. Long…short…I seriously strained my right shoulder in early May and am only now able to raise my arm above my head.

    I’ve somewhat lost my enthusiasm, but I’ve kept up w/your emails and am slowly getting the fire back. I will go back to your routine of progressive overload.

    All of this to say that I’m in total agreement with you. I shouldn’t have left the fold in the first place.

    You’re doing a great service, Vince. I just wish I had the means to purchase some of the offers you have, but God has blessed me nonetheless. My health is extremely important to me and you’ve provided the path to travel.

    May God richly bless you, Vince DelMonte, and enjoy the joy that your brother is experiencing.

    bill

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  24. Hey everyone… thanks for the tremendous dialogue and mature conversation. Reading your posts has become the highlight of my day. I can’t respond to everything right now because my brother is getting married this Saturday and I need to keep working on my speech! Talk soon though

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  25. Pete, I agree with you 99%. I also believe progressive overload is the way to go to get changes in your health and body composition. My 1% is on the proper stretching (just in case you were wondering)

    This is probably Vince’s best blog. I agree with everything he says.

    To clear things up, my response was to Lucky’s post; not Vince’s blog. My comments were referring to Lucky performing 4 sets of the same exercise. What I read from Lucky’s post is that if I perform 4 sets in which I try to do more the fourth set, I see wasted time and resources when he could have done it all in the first set. During your second set, you hit the same exact muscle fibers as the first set, unless you actually go to failure or perform more reps the second set than the first set within the same time (speed of repetitions). Lucky states that he tries to do the set quicker than the last time. I just wanted to warn Lucky that this can lead to less results because if he goes super quick then he is no longer controlling the load and allowing inertia and momentum to take over.

    I had something to say, but it was to Lucky not Vince.

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  26. It’s really cold where I live (like 20-30 degree weather, and maybe lower with wind chill) so I haven’t been able to go outside and get my HIIT. So I tried to find an indoor substitute-one that I could do without a gym membership (which I don’t have) or machines. Well, there are always the old-fashioned jumping jacks, running in place, jump rope etc, but I wanted something more unique. So I went on the Internet, and found something that made me sore the next day and I have been working out in a steady schedule for several months now. They’re called burpees. Most of you may have heard of them and at one point, I think I did, but I forgot all about them. So I tried out a superset–30 sec. of burpees, then 30 sec. of shadow boxing-continue for 3 intervals of each activity and your first superset is complete. Take minute or two for a break, and repeat. So I did this superset three times which came out to a total of 9 minutes. When I first saw them, my thought was that they were easy, maybe too easy. Well, after doing a 9 minute cycle, I can tell you that there has to be something to gain from doing burpees (the act of standing up, then bend down and place hands on floor in front of you; then jump up with your legs while keeping your hands on the floor to bring yourself into a leaning rest, or pushup position; then do one pushup, and get up the same way you got down with the exception of- as you are standing up, add a jump) <— all that for a burpee…..anyways. this was a really long comment and I apologize, but I just wanted to lay this out there and maybe you people can try it and see how it works for you. ….And regarding my ‘story’ of finding a suitable indoor cardio exercise, I found it. 🙂

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  27. Andrew…dude you just went on man 🙂 I don’t know even where to start but if you can’t tell when you are going to injure a joint 🙂 I mean what da hell can you tell then??? As for the why 4 sets why 3 sets why 5 sets, you forgot that with every # of sets there comes a certain # of reps and it’s not there by accident, it’s there specifically to target your muscles in different ways. And for the theory that you only need 1 set, well yeah you do need that 1 set in which you are gonna do the most work in but that set sure as hell is not going to be your first, your one and only set…that’s how you injure a joint heh. Regarding the back exercise, if you do a rowing compound exercise like you said and you start leaning back and using your lower back…as soon as you start to do this and you can’t lift the weight without this, it’s time to STOP because you’re CHEATING and it doesn’t make sense anymore. You should either then look at the quality of your rest days or switch to a different exercise.

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  28. Hey Vince, great article.

    One of the techniques I like to use to break through plateaus and achieve progressive overload is with “ladder” sets. It’s a very effective way to break up
    your normal routine and improve your results, especially if you “raise” the ladder each workout.

    Here’s an example using pull-ups. First, do just one pull-up. If you have a workout partner, step aside while they do one pull-up. If you don’t have a partner, just allow the amount of time it would take them to do one pull-up if they were there.

    Then do two pull-ups, and step aside while your partner (real or
    imaginary) does two pull-ups. Then you do three, they do three, you
    do four, they do four, you do five, they do five. Don’t rest in between
    for any longer than it takes your “partner” to do their reps.

    Now work back down by trading four, then three, then two, then one.
    By the time you’re finished, you will have done a total of 25 pull-ups!

    Next time you work out, raise the ladder from five “rungs” to six, then to seven and so on.

    Robert Martin
    http://lookgreatnakedatanyage.com

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  29. vince,
    I work out from home with the little tools that i have two 15 pound dumbell, a machine, a bench, and 4 15 pound weights. i have been able 2 use all of them and the only way to icrease my intensity was by adding more reps with the same weight. Is tht right or am i doing i wrong, if so what should i change.

    martin

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  30. Vince et al,
    I completely agree with the fact that progressive overload works. The only problem, at least for me, is that after using your programme and Jon Benson’s 7MM alternately for the last 6 months, I ended up lifting far too heavy weights far too quickly. It has caused a few minor overload injuries, that I have dealt with by changing exercises, form and weight. What I have discovered to be the most common sin, for many trainees I have observed, also for myself, is to sacrifice form for lifting heavier weights. So lately my trick to avoid overload and still maintain progression is, when I reach a certain weight, and I feel my joints or limbs starting to hurt, is to review my form, go back to basics and do the exercise by the book, or maybe a slightly different one, with a considerably lighter weight. Then when I’m back on form, I restart weight progression and continue from there. It may have slowed muscle build up, but it has also saved my day in the gym, where I would say that about 90% of the trainees are waisting their time, right from the moment the enter the gym till they leave! Keep up the good work.

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  31. Just a side note on progressive overload. For people that are in the market for a new gym…Find a gym that has weights that you can safely ditch or that have safety bars if need be to reduce the risk of injuring yourself if you don’t have a workout partner spotting you. It’s a little off topic, but i think its an important element in lifting to failure.
    Yes, as what was said in an earlier post- leave the ego at the door. I saw a guy doing dead lifts the other day with way way way too much weight on, terrible form, and he obviously hurt his back from the looks of it. He had a potty mouth too. But if I were him i’d probably have said worse… Be safe.

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  32. Andrew,

    I must say, I am a little confused by this response. Health and wellness are without question extremely improtant to everyone, certainly someone who is at the gym trying to improve their health and body composition.

    Regarding your first paragraph, you make reference to attempting to build the upper back, and performing an exercise which could also utilize your lower back muscles. Yes, this makes sense, however I don’t think it relates to the blog discussion regarding progressive overload. I think the point Vince is trying to make, and that Lucky testified to, is that if your goal is to build lean muscle mass, you must force your muscles to cope with stresses they are not used to. If you do not change anything in your workout routine; i.e. reps, sets, weight, why would your body change, it can already deal with that level of stress, and has no reason to.

    As for which set causes results, I agree that you do not want to overtrain. I believe that everyone is different, and you must attempt to train as efficiently as possible. I personally follow Vince’s 4-day metobolic extreme regimen, have been for 2 1/2 months, and have seen the most impressive body composition change I ever have in my entire life. I have practiced progressive overload on this program over the 2 1/2 months and my workouts have not increased in time, number of exercises, or number of reps. I apply the concept by increasing the weight on any given exercise as soon as I can perform 12 reps. If you question if I am overtraining or over-stressing my joints, I can only respond by saying I pay close attention to performing my exercises with good form, and I have seen such great progress, it would be hard to immagine that I am overtraining.

    In summary, I am not disagreeing with you, safety and wellness are an absolute must in the gym. Proper stretching, proper form, and avoiding overtraining are critical. I have to immagine that 99% of the people reading this blog are either interested in gaining lean muscle, losing body fat, or a combination of the two. I agree with Vince whole heartedly that if this is your goal, you must step outside of that lazy “comfort zone”, and apply the very simple principle of progressive overload.

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  33. This technique works, but for adding more weight, idon’t think so because as example for the flat bench press i can lift 48 kgs (105 pound) but the last time when i tried 50 kgs (110 pounds) i couldn’t move it (im 15 and i just started bodybuilding 5 months ago) without help from my spotter. So what i do is lift it with help then lower the weight and do as much reps as i can and keep lowering it until i reach 40 kgs (88 pounds) the same thing for all my exersices (without rest betweene sets).
    My methode works perfectly because in just 1 month i added 1-1.5 inches to my bicep. I suggest everyone to try this, and also this http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UheCchftswc
    Thank you Vince for everything, your advices rock !!!

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  34. Hi Vince

    Great post, I have saved it to my hard drive for reference 😉

    I am going through a fatloss stage at moment, and do 10 minute periods of intense lifting using 2 exercises. I do 3 x 10 minute “shifts” with different exercises each shift.

    What I am using to measure, is not reps, or weight increases (as such), but total kilos lifted for each exercise in that 10 minute period. I aim to see an improvement from session to session. I multiply the amount of reps by the kilo of weight lifted, for example 40 total reps at 20kg = 800kg lifted in 10 minute period

    Seems like a good idea, and keeps me highly motivated during my workouts, and I would be interested in hearing your thoughts if you get the chance to.

    Craig Harrison
    UK

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  35. the overload is pretty good, but how long would it take for it to kick in and actually start making noticeable effects ??

    and would it still be effective if u only changed the weight weekly??

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  36. First things first, VINCE THIS IS YOUR BLOG AND OURS, WHAT HAVE YOU GOT TO SAY TO WHAT ANDREW BELIEVES?
    I just changed my routine as Vince showed in some of his videos. I splitted my routine in 3 days, and doing supersets. I don´t work out more than 2 days in a row, and try to make small gains each time. Some weeks, you can try but it´s not always possible, maybe work stress in a varieble or any other thing can make you perform less.
    The problem is, after training 6 weeks on supersets and resting for one week, what come next? changing amount of reps, sets, exercises? changing from doing supersets to somethings else? what…..????
    continue doing this making small gains???

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  37. Thanks for all the vital muscle growth info. I haven’t bought the whole series, but I’ve gained so much valuable information from just the ten free videos! In my workouts, I’ve found that weight and reps don’t really matter when it comes down to it. The key for me is extremely slow reps. The more continuous time my muscles are working, the more stress they have and the more they are motivated to get bigger. Sometimes, my limit is reached by only doing 5-8 reps that take about 6-10 seconds each. Everyone knows his or her own limit and it feels so good to workout your body in a safe smart way. Thanks again.

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  38. If you injure a joint, you can’t exercise as much. If you can’t exercise as much, your muscles will atrophy.

    I didn’t proof read.

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  39. Lucky,

    It isn’t always about gaining muscle. I think people are in the mindset that if they workout with weights and build up lean body mass, then they must be healthy. Many bodybuilders suffer from heart attacks because their bodies require a lot of oxygen, but their hearts are weak. It is easy for me to say focus on wellness, but everyone has their own priorities. As for your results, who is to say that all that you are doing in the gym is getting you those results. Which set, which rep, which exercise? There is a point in your workout routine where your targeted muscles are stimulated. Your goal is to figure out that point. Exercise needs to be effective, efficient, and safe. If one of these is neglected, then you are only hurting yourself. Most people fail in all of these. Effective doesn’t always mean results. It actually means, you are targeting the muscle that you want in the way that it is supposed to cause or prevent movement. There are certain ranges of motions that body limbs and joints can travel, beyond certain points, muscles relax and lose tension. If your muscles lose tension, then the exercise isn’t as effective as it could be. For example, if your goal is build up your upper back (lats, rhomboids, and traps), you might choose to do the compound row. Let’s say that you lean back as you perform the compound row (during the concentric phase). You just distributed the forces away from your upper back and down towards your lower back. Why? Biomechanics. You just did spinal extension. Which muscles perform spinal extension? The lower back muscles. This means that the 160 pounds of FORCE applied to the upper back muscles is now only pulling 130 pounds of force. Based on science and your goal, this is very ineffective. Your goal was never to hit your lower back.

    As for efficiency, why perform 4 sets when you can perform 3, 2, or 1. You have no idea which rep caused you get the results you got in the past three weeks. You may have even over trained and suppressed yourself from getting better gains. Efficiency is when you get what you want done in the shortest amount of time. If you just paved a road, would you repave it? Heck no, time and money, right? The same with the body. If you can provide your muscles with a stimulus in one or two sets, why would you continue to do more. MORE ISN’T ALWAYS BETTER. What you actually do is slightly over train and use up valuable materials that your body should use to repair itself to get stronger/bigger.

    Safety. Going fast produces results because you can lift more weight. True, but are you “lifting” the weight during the whole exercise. I would say probably not. Therefore you lose tension and control of the movement which puts an incredible amount of stress on your joints. You might want to think about your skeletal system before you muscular system. If you injury a joint, you can exercise as much. If you can exercise as much, your muscles atrophy. If you muscles atrophy, you gain body fat. If you gain body fat, you can get several illnesses directly related to being overweight or obese.

    It is not how much you can do; it is how long you can do it for. Remember this and you will succeed and be moving closer to wellness.

    Oh, leave your ego at the door the next time you step into the gym. Then you will actually be one step ahead of everyone else in reaching your optimal body.

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  40. Hey Vince,
    There’s one thing no trainer outthere ever acknowledges, and that’s for that big guy 6 ft 190 lbs, that used to be 250+ lbs. once and now he’s got that layer of flab hanging on his upper bodice. what do you suggest for someone like me. I move plenty of weights around the gym , but ofcourse still some BF, I’m thinking around 16-17%.
    By the way, thanks for sharing that good info about our bodies/Muscles that don’t like to be bothered and pushed from week to the next. I’d like to add to that, some folks I see in the GYM that my buddy and I jokingly call them “Halfreps”, they try to move so much weight and their form and motion gets very short, hence MR. HALFREP 🙂

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  41. I’m very proud of guys like James Wallace at 66 and still stayin in good shape, thats great 🙂
    A good method Im using right now on progressive overload is using a heavy weight that I can lift 5 reps x 2 sets, then next time I add one extra rep till I total 8 reps then increase the weight slightly and go back to 5 again and so on. So far its workin great for me, and Im gettin very good results w/ it too!

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  42. Some of us are not young!!!! some of us don’t want to/can’t join a workout place!!!
    So by adding small increments will continuetochallenge ourmuscles!!!! their are cilentle whowant to plateau at a solid form w/o 6 % body fat too many temptations Grandchildren, and Grammy always buys junkf ood !!!!!! I see manyafter pictures andthey are overjoyed to be down to 190-200 lbs I’m183 and want to stay in good shape so I will continue to change my weights/reps nomore than 2-5% to aviod injury (more critical at my age slow to heal!!! When tryingtoeatrightsome veggies/nuts are verydifficult to eat need insight to combat denture problems!!! Sorry for being so honest but there is a group between 6% body fat and trying to look like Mr. Charles Atlas (dating myself – 66 years old)!!!!

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  43. VINCE, JUST WANT TO TELL YOU THAT I ENJOY YOUR INFO AND I HAVE USED SOME OF IT . EACH AND EVERYONE OF US IS A LITTLE DIFFERENT AND WHAT WORKS FOR ONE DOESN’T WORK FOR THE OTHER.
    I AM 64YR. AND HAVE PLAYED SPORT AND BEEN A GYM RAT ALL MY LIFE
    THE PROBLEM I HAVE IS WHEN I GO UP IN WEIGHT I END UP HURTING EAITHER MY SHOULDERS OR ELBOWS. SO I HAVE BEEN STAYING AT LITER WEIGHTS, I DONT WANT TO GET BIG JUST TONE AND KEEP WHAT I GOT.
    SHOULD I JUST VERY MY ROUTINE . ALLTHE TIME?ALSO I DO CARDIO ON THE ELIPTICAL CROSS TRAINER I KNOW HOW YOU THINK THIS IS A WAST OF TIME BUT BELIEVE ME I REALLY WORK AT IT 3MIN. AS HARD AS I AN GO THEN BACK OFF FOR 2MIN. HEART RATE IS IN THE 160 RANGE DO THIS FOR 20 TO 30 MIN. WOULD LOVE TO RUN BUT KNEES ARE SHOT. SOMETIMES YOU JUST GOT TO DO WHAT YA GOT TO DO. ANY TIP OR ADVICE WILL BE APPRECIATED THANK YOU…. DANNY

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  44. i did this, when lets say dumbell curls, when raising up, i make a temp 2 count, while breathing out two times… then lowering the weight a 4 tempo while breathing on 4 times.. this it self increases my muscles people started commented… but then i also increase my weight by 5 or 10 pounds my weight[the heavier the better] then people were shocked in one week theres a big diffference..

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  45. Hi Vince
    Well there are a few of us that train together ,we don’t know that much & don’t read mussel mags, but we work on the system of 5+5 with heavy weights for a week & the next we do 3+20 with a slightly lower weight, & the following week we increase we have seen 100% strength gain on most exercises. But we at the stage were we need help, So when i get back from the middle east we are going to sing up.

    Paul Seville

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  46. After years of trying this supplement or that new training technique, I “woke up” one early morning while standing in front of the mirror in the gym. I realized I had never had a true breakthrough in muscle gains, I fluctuated between 185 and 215 lbs and after all of that hard work realized that all I was doing was gaining and losing the same fat over and over again. Just when I was about to give up and say “It is just my genetics, this is as big as I will ever get, noting I can do about it”, I decided to give it one more try. Back to basics. The simple things that got me started was where I needed to focus. No more supplements, no more 6 minute this or split double two a day that. Nothing but 3×5 of two compound exercises and 2×15 of a single isolation exercise per workout, three times a week. My one tip that I feel has helped me the most is: After increasing the weight, I would have difficulty completing the sets, instead of just getting three on the last set, I would rack the weight, count to ten and then squeeze out another rep. I would do that over and over until I completed the full set. My mantras = “Nothing to it but to do it” and “Its not enough until its enough”.

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  47. Your workouts are what im looking for ( muscle bye strengh)…but how do you explain the fact that there are people with 47cm arms who use a 40-pouns bar for bicep curls and that a 70 kg powerlifter can bench press more than bigger guys.

    thanks

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  48. i ned mor arms and back training can yuo sedme please sontin

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  49. Yes this technique works and you can be I don’t know what kind of expert and say what you want, it won’t mean anything to me because I KNOW this technique works cos I tried it on myself and it’s cool cos you always have a choice of how you gonna progress. If I have to do 4×12 with a certain weight and I do let’s say 1×12 2×11 3×10 and 4×9 I won’t move to the bigger weight the next time…next time I’ll push myself to do 4×12 with that weight and then move on the heavier one. And I always try to finish quicker, it’s just that I like to race, so I’m racing with myself heh, I imagine a ghost image of me in my previous workout and just try to beat him 🙂 Oh btw Vince you like owe me about 10 shirts which I gave away cos I don’t fit in them any more. I just measured myself this morning and got another 2.2 lb of lean tissue since the last measurement, which was not a month away, about 3 weeks I think it was and I’m pretty happy with that 🙂 Oh I would just like to add that I didn’t start of as a skinny guy, I started as somebody who was training is whole life as a mesomorph so this program will work for anyone who puts themselves out there. Oh sorry for the long post and for possible misspells 🙂

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  50. Vince,
    I’ve receive your emails on a regular basis and recently restarted a workout program based on your suggestions. I say restarted because I have followed a fitness program all my life after leaving professional sports. I recently had a major medical problem that put a stopper to my workouts for several months.
    My concern is that your program, like almost all programs out there, do not adapt well to the seniors in your following. At 73, I find that I don’t recover from workouts like I did once. Our growth hormones are not being produced in enough quantity to build muscle. A hard workouot leaves us with sore muscles that require longer periods between workouts. And, perhaps longer rest periods during workouts. We are lucky if we can keep what muscle we have. I think a lot is known now about fitness and the older generation. Do your suggestions and courses take the older generation into considertion?

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  51. U get what you wont from working out only when you really know exactly what you won’t. I believe overloading doesn’t necessarily matter, what matters is havin’ someone you look up @. For me i do use light weight but i’ve really gotten exactly the muscle growth i wont with advice from my pal Vince.

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  52. This is so true, Vince. The thing is, a lot of guys (and myself, at one point, included) think it’s always gotta be the weight going up. I’d move the weights up every week and then soon I’d hit a wall, and get frustrated. Now when I hit that poundage wall, I just work some other aspect of the lifts, as you mentioned above.

    My recently favorite progressive overload technique is one from Nick Nilsson, which he calls simply “specialization”: for whatever you think is lagging in your development, pick one exercise that hits it (bodyweight exercises are best, for reasons that’ll be obvious in a moment). Do one set to failure, twice a day, morning and night. Just one set, each time, and try to add at least a rep each time, or at least one rep to your total for the day. I know it goes against all kinds of rules about not training consecutive days — forget those rules. This works.

    I’ve been doing this with shoulders — doing handstand pushups. When I started I couldn’t even do ONE — not even close, actually (if you use them, be sure to put a cushion under your head to start!). So I started off with little quarter- or half-reps, adding reps each time. Then I started adding in negatives, lowering my head to the floor as slowly as I could. Finally I was able to push up from a headstand to a handstand. Now I can bang out fifteen full reps of that! When I hit twenty I’m planning to start doing it between chairs so I can get a bigger range of motion! Anyway, my shoulders are getting huge (and I can see an increase in my traps and upper chest, too), and my shoulder lifts in the gym have skyrocketed, too, even though I haven’t been doing all that much of them!

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  53. hi and thanx fro u r good advice and ur mail . will try to fallow ur advice.

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  54. hey vince you hardly get anyone speaking the truth nowdays, your article speaks volumes on your credibility…

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  55. hi sir

    u are great ,, me i am from india and now i am living in dubai i was going to gym fom my 10 th standard but not regularly . but i was not fatty guy when i came here due to continues driving and all my belly came out my age is 24 nw i satrted my gym 1 mnth is over i please help me out in this great problem

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  56. I agree with Vince. I have started to go gym for my workout in July 2008 but it is not until in Oct 2008 that I start to fully commited to myself to get my body stronger. Yes, getting the six pack abs is the ultimate body transformation but I want more.

    Following a progressive overload creates that strength and endurance that you want from your body. As for me, I do a full-body workout, constantly overload every week by increasing weights or the number of reps or one more extra set. I do what Vince mentioned in the article. I even did 3 sets of full body workout of DB Bench Press and DB Bulgarian Split Squat with no rest in between. After this set of full body workout, I rest for 60 secs before proceed to the second set of full body workout. Each week, I either increase the reps or weights.

    In doing a progressive overload also makes your heart pumps harder creating the “cardio” effect. It works for me. My workout never last more than 60 minutes. So if you want to gain muscle, do what is mentioned in Vince’s above article..

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  57. I can’t stress enough how important progressive overload is. In fact this was the subject of my first ever post over at my blog.

    Yavor

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