Workout Plans
  • Goal: Hypertrophy, Build Muscle, Upper Body Definition, Build Strength
  • Skill level: Advanced
  • Duration: 5 Weeks
  • Days per week: 5
  • Type: Strength Training
Man Performing a Pullup  thumbnail
UfaBizPhoto / Shutterstock
UfaBizPhoto / Shutterstock

Gradually increase the stress on your body each week.

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Today's fitness world can be confusing with a multitude of tools being thrown at you. The list is endless: supersests, drop sets, slow negatives, partial reps, and so on. The problem with the bombardment of information and subsequent bandwith overload is that it's easy to lose sight of what truly matters to make progress. An important pricinple to adopt right away is progressive overload. 

Get Stressed

Progressive overload is the gradual increase of stress placed upon the body during training. The principle is about continuously increasing the demands on the muscoloskeletal system so that you can make gains in muscle size, strength, and endurance. In simplest terms: to get bigger and stronger, you must lift more weight and add more volume -- making your muscles work harder than what they're used to. Without this concept, there will be no improvement.

It sounds simple enough, yet we all know someone who's been a gym-goer for years and ends up getting nowhere. In nine out of 10 cases, the overload principle was violated.

A simplistic progressive overloading program is just the trick. I personally like the way Mike Isreatel and Nick Shaw from Renaissance Periodization do things.

The first basis of this program is to figure out your diet, and then set up a training routine. Next, set up your training weights by calculating your 70-75 percent max.

In the first week, you'll train about 70 percent, moving the weights up in 3-5 percent increments each week, finishing to about 85 percent. This holds primarily for compound exercises. Note that the smaller exercises will progress in smaller steps. Here is my way of increasing the weights every two weeks.

As an example, let's assume that you can bench 300 pounds x 10—giving you a max weight of 380. You would start the program at around 300 pounds without going to failure, then add volume and weight as you go along. The program is for someone who has decent legs, but lacks upper body mass and strength. This is a five-week program, the fifth week being a recovery week. 

Now I know this program will not work forever, so in week five, halve the volume and the reps to give your body and central nervous system a chance to recover. As for rest days for the program, you can switch them but just make sure that you stick to the original sequence. 

Week 1: 70% Max

Week 2: 75% Max

Week 3: 80% Max

Week 4: 85% Max

Week 5: 50% of Week 4 Weight/Volume