Suppose you go to the gym today and determine that the highest intensity
overload you can generate for, let’s say, your triceps, is 11 reps with 190
pounds doing a close-grip bench press. Great. But if you go back to the
gym and do that same routine every workout you’ll never get bigger,
Because the overload must be progressive. This is one of the most over-
looked elements of strength training. I know people who have done basically the same workout month after month. I don’t mean the same exercises each time…I mean the same amount of overload for each muscle group. In fact, I know people who still believe you have to “cycle” your intensity…so they go back to the gym and do less intense exercises…that’s regressive overload!
That’s like having a fairly dark tan then sitting in the shade during your next tanning “workout” and somehow hoping the reduced sunlight intensity will deepen your tan. That would defy the laws of physics!
The truth is, no two workouts should ever be the same. (Unless you are
trying to just maintain – not build – muscle mass.) To be productive, every
exercise in every workout should be engineered to deliver at least slightly
higher intensity than the last workout. Can you make progress every workout? Of course! Consistent progress is exactly what is supposed to happen! Bodybuilding and strength training have become so mired in foolish jargon and unscientific reasoning that now people find it hard to believe every workout can be productive.
But what would be the purpose of going to a gym and lifting really heavy weights if it didn’t move you measurably closer to your goal of gaining more mass and size? Every workout taxes you and depletes your body of precious energy and recovery reserves…you should never spend that energy unless you get measurable results from it. And you can get measurable results from it – every time – if you train rationally.