The reason why an overloading stimulus is so important for building muscle tissue is because in order for your muscles to get stronger, they have to become damaged. When you lift a weight that is just a little too heavy for your body to handle you are going to create tiny tears in the muscle tissue.
After these tears are created your body is going to begin repairing them, provided you are allowing for enough rest and supplying proper nutrition, and will grow back even stronger than before. This way, if you are met with the same challenge again, your body is able to handle it.
If you go to the gym day in and day out and never add change anything with your workouts, your chances of building muscle are very small. You will likely plateau and remain at the same strength level and size for a very long period of time.
That said, it is still important that the stimulus you provide is not so overloading that you risk maintaining proper form and injury yourself. It is far better to use a very small weight increment and keep your form right than to bump up the weight considerably and perform the exercise wrong.
So how can you increase the stimulus? This is a good question.
The first way to increase the stimulus is by doing the obvious, increasing the weight you are lifting. A general guideline to follow is to increase it by about 5% on your upper body lifts and 10% on your lower body lifts. Note however that you will not be able to increase it EVERY gym session, but rather should focus on increasing it once you are comfortably able to complete your given set with the previous weight.
The second way to increase the stimulus and build muscle tissue is by increasing the number of repetitions. For example, if you have been doing 3 sets of 6 reps, try moving that to 3 sets of 8 reps with the same weight. The thing to remember with this is that once you get up to around 12 -15 reps it is best to then increase the weight as working in a higher rep range is not that desirable for gaining muscle.
The final way to create an overload is to decrease your rest time. This means that if you were using 2 minute rest periods between sets you would shorter this to about a minute and a half. This is going to teach your muscles to remove built-up by products more quickly since they do not have as long to recover.
Each of these ways of increasing the stimulus will create a slightly different physiological response where muscle building is concerned however are all good methods to continually challenge yourself so you don’t plateau and continue to see great results from your workouts.
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