Joey Vaillancourt Fitness
From Joey, Muscle Building Training

How To Gain Muscle – What Causes Growth?

September 8, 2010 by Joey Vaillancourt · 149 Comments 

We all want muscle right? We all know we need to eat, train and live a certain way to grow new muscle tissue, but when it all boils down, if you want to gain muscle, its very important to understand how simple the principle behind it all really is.

Just ask my friend Stewie here from Family Guy…although something tells me his method of gaining lean muscle has been ‘tainted’


The trick is to give it a reason to build new muscle tissue instead of just repairing the muscle tissue that was previously there.

And unlike Stewie, we will not resort to steroids. Instead we will be doing it the natural way and applying a simple concept.

The way to do this is to apply progressive overload to your muscles through several methods.

You see, over year’s of evolution and development, our body’s genetic profile have been developed to do one thing; SURVIVE!



Now comparing this principle to when we want to build muscle, if we stress our muscles one week with a certain amount of stress (stress created in a workout), then we return to the gym the week after and apply a greater stress within the same workout, our bodies will respond by adaptation and it will grow new, bigger muscle tissue.

The reason for doing this is because, it does not want to experience that stress again. And since you exposed your muscles to the greater stress stimulus, it signalled a response to grow bigger to avoid that happening again. Understand?

Your body will adapt under the survival principle. But the trick is to not apply too great of a stress to your muscles to the point that you cannot efficiently repair and recover.

That is why it is very important to apply ‘progressive overload’ in your workouts.

Do not fall into the illogical thinking that if an hour workout is good, then a two or four hour workout is even better. It doesn’t work that way!

The best way to progress in your workouts is to apply progressive overload using absolute overload and relative overload.

Absolute Overload:

Absolute overload is achieved when you overload the muscles with a heavier weight but using the same workout variables as before (rest time, tempo etc).

This technique has the greatest chance of triggering new muscle as it taps into the type 2b muscle fibers which have the greatest muscle growth potential.

Relative Overload:

Relative overload on the other hand is based around applying more sets, more reps and this principle does not necessarily take the muscle to muscular failure.

Both techniques should be used at different times. Some argue that you should not use relative overload, but I disagree.

I do agree that constantly adding in more sets and making a workout longer and longer will inevitably lead to overtraining and lack of progression. But, when used properly, we can easily use this method to force our bodies to adapt which will then lead to stressing the muscles with heavier weights (absolute overload).

I hope this has given you a better understanding of the complex process we call Muscle Building.

If you have any questions, feel free to leave a comment below.



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