One of the most important strategies in the process of gaining muscle or losing fat is the idea of Progressive Overload. This is one of the keys to muscle growth and development in that you can only stimulate new muscle growth if you continue to push the limits of what those muscle are accustomed to. Without employing the practice of Progressive Overload you will not be providing your muscles with enough incentive to grow – they will grow in response to abnormal work (stress) which enable you to build the lean muscle we desire.
Mentally the idea of Progressive Overload can be exhausting as you need to get into the mindset that you can lift more weight than in the past, or alternatively, that you can perform more repetitions than previously. Gradually lifting more weight, or for more repetitions, or with less time is the basic idea of Progressive Overload, but you have to believe that you can do it and that your body will respond by making you stronger than before.
One of my current female clients went through this when performing the Deadlift – it is an amazing compound exercise that can fire up your fat burning metabolism when performed with a weight that is challenging enough. We worked through warm-up sets, then a lighter weight-higher rep working set which she was accustomed to. However when challenged with additional weight she immediately came out of her comfort zone upon feeling the new weight of the bar that she was being asked to lift. “I can’t lift that” she stated immediately. My answer was simply “You can, you simply need to do it”. For women in particular the mental barrier that impedes their desire to lift “heavy” (in reality it isn’t very heavy, merely heavier than what one is accustomed to) has to be broken through.
Often females training with weights will get the “feel” of a heavy bar and become uncomfortable with it. On this day my client ripped out 12 solid reps with perfect form – this on a heavy compound Deadlift movement which had begun with her saying “I can’t lift that”. She did lift it, in fact she nailed it with good form, and will become stronger and leaner because of it. All of this applies to men as well.
So go grab more weight that you have worked with before, challenge yourself, maintain proper form, and have a good spotter if needed. You may be surprised with what you are capable of doing in the gym and with the transformation that takes place. Muscles grow only in response to sufficient stimuli, and more muscle translates to a lower body fat percentage, so lift heavier knowing that you can.