The basic principles of stress in any context generally mean a change occurs to adapt to the new pressures and in turn a change comes to fruition, good or bad. Some city workers will blame the premature growth of silver strands in their hair line on stress, people who hold highly demanding managerial roles might suggest their high blood pressure is due to stress yet a heavily muscled athlete with the physique of a photo shopped Greek God will tell you this is down to ‘’stress.’’ Clearly there are two forms of stress, good and bad. The kind of stress which drives you to go grey before your time, add inches to your waistline, shred your patience and gives your GP cause for concern every time you have a check-up isn’t good, obviously. In contrast the kind of stress which causes your muscles to blossom with newly found dense tissue, become stronger and cause your anabolic hormone production to fall into over drive is good – it’s desirable, in fact it’s necessary. This then, beyond all the garnish is the significant factor which gives consent to the process of muscle growth. Simply put, stress is the ‘’Daddy’’ of muscle stimulus.
How can you successfully brace the power of stress to grow bigger and stronger? Glad you asked. . . .
1 – Different Day, Same . . . . .Stuff
If your gym routine consists of much the same work on a weekly basis with the variation of magnolia paint then you will probably find you will get the same results you always have. That’s a very simple concept to grasp. There is a time and place for getting the reps done, however the bigger picture requires progress in the strength department. Show me an athlete with muscles which make heads turn, sleeves stretch and iron quake and I will show you someone who is strong. After you enjoy your initial growth spurt as a beginner where almost any stimulus in the weight room will be enough to provoke some kind of reaction things get tougher. The muscle knows the game now, it’s a seasoned player. To make it improve and gain size you need to teach this old dog new tricks, you need to take it on walks it hasn’t walked before. Over an 8 week period lift heavier each week on one compound exercise for 5 reps for each major muscle group. Deadlift, squat, bench press, dips and chin ups would be ideal. If you successfully complete this challenge the stress will leave your muscles with no option but to react – that reaction will be growth. Don’t be repetitive. . . . .
2 – Turn It Up, Back Off And Go Again. . . . .
To make stress work for you rather than against you being strategic with your training is advisable. There is a time and place for ‘’smashing’’ the muscle with gruesome intensity with lots of drop sets, giant sets, reps and forced reps. There is also a place for well-planned strength work, focussing on making the muscles lift more which in turn does most of the work for you. After your initial 8 week ‘’get stronger each week’’ phase focus on lifting heavier every third week whilst using the other two weeks as a window of opportunity to use lots of volume and just work the muscles into the floor (well, nearly). Several stressed are being used here which will see them work with you, not against you.
3 – When Strong Doesn’t Work
What happens when you can’t beat your last lift as outlined in point 1, do you just leave the gym with your head hanging low and feeling deflated, beaten and disappointed? NO! What you do is get yourself a training partner. When a 5 rep strength set stops at 3, use forced reps. Even if it means you can only resist the negative portion of the last 2 reps that is fine. Its new stimulus, its new territory and with the unknown comes the guaranteed – muscle growth.
Whilst stress is often dubbed a bad thing (and often is) in the world of muscle growth, training and performance it is a necessity. To get big and strong you need to stress from time to time.