Progressive overload or tension – which one matters more for growth?

I know you were all expecting a thoughtful Christmas email, but this newsletter deals with improving your physique and nothing else!

When it comes to growing muscle there are two camps:

In the blue corner you have the progressive overload meaning you must get stronger or else team. In the red corner, you have team “weight is just a tool, use it wisely to activate as many fibers as possible.”

Who is right? Mostly team red, I am afraid.

Why? Well, for one, you are not a powerlifter but a bodybuilder. If you want to change your body in any shape or form, maximum muscle activation is key. Getting stronger should really be titled “getting stronger in good form”. If you are using any type of inertia to move more weight, you are doing it wrong. This will not lead to greater gains but to injured joints and ruptured ligaments.

Tension is really where its at, more precisely tension for 30 seconds during each set of exercise . From what we know it seems that time under tension is critical, if you do not achieve sufficient time under tension your body response to the train will be suboptimal..

What does that mean? It means that during your set you should never lose tension on your target muscle.

This will accomplish two things:

  1. Greater gains due to better activation
  2. Healthier joints and ligaments since you need to eliminate all cheating in order to achieve constant tension.

So should you not bother about getting stronger? You absolutely should as long as it is done…

  1. in good form,
  2. without locking out, and
  3. with a controlled negative portion of the exercises

From here on , nothing can stop you!
Fröhliche Weihnachten!