Pillar #2 – Get Strong: Progress in Weight
Constant progression is essential for continual lean muscle gains. Your body is smart and adapts to change very quickly. If you are not continually challenging it, your body will not respond by growing bigger muscle tissue.
Strength is not optional. Though you do not have to train for one rep max strength, or necessarily use low reps, you do have to get a heck of a lot stronger than you are now.
Without progression of weight, or progressive overload, nothing else matters. End of story. No amount of mind muscle connection or muscle confusion is going to allow you to build muscle if you are not pushing for more weight on the bar someway, somehow.
Everything you do in the weight room hinges on progressive overload.
You can add drop sets to your routine, but unless you progressively add weight over time your body will quickly adapt to the specific demands of drop sets. You can’t continue to add more and more and more drop sets. Therefore, drop sets (and other advanced training techniques) are a nice tool, but without progressive overload they soon become limited in impact.
You can decrease rest between sets, but unless you progressively add weight over time your body will adapt to the specific demands of limited rest. You can’t continue to decrease rest between sets forever. Sooner or later you run out of rest to decrease and the rest pause approach will return right back to the need to add weight to the bar. If you don’t believe me, do some research on Doggcrapp Training. DC Training utilizes rest pause sets, but preaches progression, progression, progression.
Remember this truth – there are no weak bodybuilders. Yes, I know you’ve heard bodybuilders say things like…strength doesn’t matter. You know what happens next? They head to the gym and squat 405 for 12 reps, followed by 455 pounds for a 6 rep set. Strength does matter. These guys built their physiques on progressive overload.
The message they are trying to get across to you is that absolute strength doesn’t matter. You don’t have to get as strong as a powerlifter, nor do you need to necessarily perform low rep sets. You do need to get a heck of a lot stronger than you are now.
I have personally interviewed, trained with and spoken to an army of professional natural bodybuilders. These are the biggest drug-free lifters in the world. There isn’t a single one of them that is weak. Each of them is Herculean in strength, in a relative sense.
Bottom line – if you want to build muscle, dramatically improve your strength levels compared to where you are now. This is the magic. Progression drives gains.