Progressive Overload for Maximizing Muscle Gains

Progressive overload, as it refers to weightlifting, is the process of steadily overloading the muscles with higher weight loads and repetitions to increase muscle size and strength. In this article, I will go over the basics of progressive overload and outline Phase 3 of our Getting Swole 101 program. I hope you all are getting excited at the positive changes in your bodies since you began this training regimen. I know I am! Also, if you’re new to the website, this is the 4th article in the Getting Swole series, so read up and get lifting!

Progressive Overload for Maximizing Muscle Gains

Progressive Overload: A Strategy of Strength

Progressive overload is a strategy of strength training that calls for a slow and steady increase of stress to be placed upon the musculoskeletal and nervous systems. The main point is that the continual addition of weight to the total workload during training sessions will stimulate muscle growth and strength gain. This improvement in overall performance will, in turn, benefit you by cranking up the intensity of your weightlifting session. Basically, it helps you to get Jacked and Swole!

The two methods we will be using are:

  1. Increasing the resistance
  2. Increasing our reps

Don’t Resist Resistance

When I say resistance I am talking of the amount of weight we are lifting. We can grow complacent in our training routines. Before you know it you are just going through the motions of lifting. At this point, the exercise is not helping you progress. Exercise and weightlifting are good things, but they need to be difficult and challenging. Muscles adapt rather quickly to weight training. What started as hard, if done consistently, will now be easy to accomplish. We don’t want that.

The way to increase our resisitence is simple. Add more weight.

Let’s say you are flat bench pressing 135 lbs. for six repetitions. You are performing three sets and you get six reps across the board. Instead of benching 135 lbs. next week, increase the weight by five to ten pounds. Now, you are bench pressing 140-145 lbs. and you get four reps for each set you do. Does it sound like we went the wrong way? Nope. We are using the first method of our progression tactic. You see, what has happened is that you have gotten stronger. The previous weight of 135 lbs. for six reps has gotten you to 140-145 lbs. for four reps. Increasing the weight on the bar is crucial in maximizing muscle gains.

Ego Lifting is NOT Progressive Overload

Proper form in our weightlifting movements is a key factor in our strength and muscle gains. If not performed correctly an exercise will not give us all the benefits it offers. Proper lifting form will help us achieve our goals while keeping safety in mind. Nothing good will come of slinging weights around willy-nilly like. Ego lifting is a first-class seat to the emergency room. I strongly recommend that you research your weightlifting exercises and watch videos of proper lifting forms. Video yourself performing the exercises so you can make the correct adjustments, as well. The video can also be a diary of your progression if you’d like.

Rep It, Rep It Good

Repetitions, the question of how many and for what exercises can be a whole article unto itself, yadda, yadda, yadda. I know what works for my goals and that is what I will suggest for you. The sweet spot for muscle stimulation and growth is between 4 and 12. Since you are here, I would say you are wanting to Get Swole and Jacked to the Max!

So, for all of your heavy compound lifting, I recommend the 4 to 6 rep range. The reason being, the muscles involved in these exercises can withstand heavier loads because they are larger. The result is greater strength gained over time. Do you know what happens when you get stronger, your muscles get bigger! That is what we are looking for.

When training the calves and abdominals, perform 8 to 12 repetitions. The longer the time under tension is, the greater the muscle damage will be. This is what we must do to force the muscle to grow. The muscles of the calves and abdominals respond better to a moderate rep range like this. These stubborn little muscles are bastards that take their sweet ass time growing.

The Elixir of Longevity

Progressive Overload Elixir

According to recent studies, progressive overload may be beneficial for our overall health and well-being. Since progressively overloading the muscles is a good method to increase muscle strength. This method was found to decrease the risk of all-cause mortality regardless of muscle mass. The link below will take you to the study.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5820209/

Strong people are harder to kill than weak people and more useful in general.”

Mark Rippetoe

Let me put the two methods of progressive overload we have discussed together for you.

Perform your exercises in the rep range that you have deemed appropriate for your fitness goals. Safety is first, and foremost always keep that in mind. I will use the flat barbell bench press in the 4 to 6 rep range as my example.

You are bench pressing 135 lbs. for six repetitions across all three sets of the movement. What you will do is add ten pounds to the bar, five for each side. This bumps you up to 145 lbs. The principle of progressive overload allows you to move this weight for four reps and possibly more, depending on your level of fitness. You will stay at this weight until you can complete six repetitions across all three of the sets. Once that occurs, all you do is apply this principle again. This is progressive overload at work. You can apply this to every weightlifting exercise you perform. Pretty frickin’ cool, huh?

The days of spinning your wheels trying to gain size and strength are over, my friends. I implore you to apply this technique to your own training regimen. I can confidently say that it works, and it will bring about a renewed excitement for pumping iron.

Getting Swole Phase 3

For your reading pleasure, here is another installment of Getting Swole 101. Those of you following this regimen, remember to perform the exercises in the order listed and complete the phases in the same fashion. Take between 2-4 minutes of rest between sets and practice proper weightlifting form.

Push & Abs – Day 1

  • Flat BB Bench (Warm-Up) 3 x 4-6
  • Incline BB Bench 3 x 4-6
  • Flat DB Bench 3 x 4-6
  • Dips (Bodyweight or Weighted) 3 x 4-6
  • Lying Leg Lift 3 x 10-12
  • Plank 3 x 45 seconds

Pull & Calves – Day 2

  • BB Deadlift (Warm-Up) 3 x 4-6
  • BB Row 3 x 4-6
  • Wide Grip Lat Pulldown 3 x 4-6
  • DB Curls 3 x 4-6
  • Chin-Ups (Bodyweight or Weighted) 3 x 4-6
  • Standing Calf Raise 3 x 6-8

Upper Body & Abs – Day 3

  • BB Military Press (Warm-Up) 3 x 4-6
  • Seated DB Press 3 x 4-6
  • Side Lat Raise (Cable) 3 x 4-6
  • Rear Lat Raise (Cable) 3 x 4-6
  • Cable Crunch 3 x 6-8
  • Bicycle Crunch 3 x 10-12 (Per Side)

Legs, Calves & Curls – Day 4

  • BB Squat (Warm-Up) 3 x 4-6
  • DB Lunge 3 x 4-6
  • RDL 3 x 4-6
  • Hammer Curls 3 x 4-6
  • Dips (Bodyweight or Weighted) 3 x 4-6
  • Standing Calf Raise 3 x 10-12

Take it easy, train for gains, and I’ll catch ya’ on the flipside!!

Cosmic Crackerjack 40 SWOLE FITNESS

Posterior Chain Training Exercises for Strength, Stability, and Aesthetics

The Posterior Chain is composed of the main muscles running up the backside of the legs, throughout the back, and along the spinal column. Basically, it’s every muscle you would NOT see if you looked in a full-length mirror. The Non-Mirror Muscles, generally speaking.

If you’ve already been training and never heard of this term, don’t worry. Chances are likely, almost certain, that you have been giving them the proper attention. In this article, we will go over which muscles make up this chain and cover the best exercises for training and strengthening these muscles.

I hope you have been following along, but if not, this is the 3rd installment in the Getting Swole 101 series. As promised I will lay out the workout routine for Phase 2 of our training cycle later in this post.

Posterior Chain Training 2

The Importance of the Posterior Chain

Think about the activities you perform daily, getting out of bed, going to work, playing with your kids, and even walking the dog. The Posterior Chain is involved in all of these. Specifically, calf muscles, hamstrings, gluteus maximus, latissimus dorsi, trapezius,  rhomboids, and the erector spinae muscles.

The everyday things that we take for granted in life will become harder and harder to accomplish as we age. We can slow down this process by keeping our bodies in top form through weight training and healthy eating. It isn’t hard to do. That word “do” will be the most difficult mental barrier we will encounter.

Overcoming this mental barrier is simple. All you do is think just long enough to get a gameplan together. Do so any longer and the seed of doubt will grow in your subconscious and give you all sorts of excuses to not start doing it. It being weight lifting like a beast and eating a healthy diet packed with protein, of course. 😉

Posterior Chain Exercises to Beef Up Your Backside

Below you will find a list of the main muscle in the Posterior Chain and two of the best exercises to build muscular strength, stability, and aesthetics in each one. A person only needs a good group of staple exercises to rotate in and out of their training routines. Nevermind all that fancy, muscle confusion bullshit that you may have heard of. Just fuhgeddaboudit!

fuhgeddaboudit, int.” OED Online, Oxford University Press, March 2021, www.oed.com/view/Entry/51390667

You are in luck, though, because almost all of the weight lifting exercises on this list are in one or more of our 6 Phases of Getting Swole!

Calves

  • Standing Barbell Calf Raise
  • Seated Barbell Calf Raise

Hamstrings

  • Barbell Deadlift
  • Romanain Deadlift (RDL)

Gluteus Maximus (Booty, Ass)

  • Barbell Squat
  • DB Lunge

Latissimus Dorsi (Lats)

  • Lat Pulldown
  • Seated Row

Trapezius (Traps)

  • Barbell Deadlift
  • Shrugs

Rhomboids

  • Barbell Bent-Over Row
  • Face Pulls

Erector Spinae Muscles

  • Barbell Deadlift
  • Good Mornings

Getting Swole Phase 2

Here we have Phase 2 of our cycle for you to use after you complete the 1st Phase. Don’t skip ahead! You will notice that there are a few more exercises listed for your daily sweat dances. The reason I have done this is twofold.

  1. We are now much stronger than when we started and can handle more strenuous muscle activity.
  2. A good, solid punch in the gut from cardio will help you lose weight faster than weightlifting alone. We want to gain strength and muscle, of course, but what good is a chiseled physique if it is hidden under a slab of flab?
Posterior Chain Training

Muscle Building Movements

Push & Abs – Day 1

  • Incline BB Bench (Warm-up) 3 x 4-6
  • Flat BB Bench 3 x 4-6
  • Incline DB Bench 3 x 4-6
  • Skullcrusher 3 x 4-6
  • Ab Rollout 3 x 6-8
  • Plank 3 x, Start @ 15 seconds and work up to as much as you can take. PAIN, Baby!!

Pull & Calves – Day 2

  • BB Deadlift (Warm-up) 3 x 4-6
  • Wide-Grip Seated Cable Row 3 x 4-6
  • Close-Grip Lat Pulldown 3 x 4-6
  • Hammer Curl 3 x 4-6
  • Seated Calf Raise 3 x 4-6
  • Pull-Ups 3 x, Do the best you can, work up to 4-6 reps, you can add extra weight when you get stronger.

Upper Body & Abs – Day 3

  • Close-Grip Bench (Warm-up) 3 x 4-6
  • Seated DB Press 3 x 4-6
  • DB Side Lat Raise 3 x 4-6
  • BB Rear Delt Row 3 x 4-6
  • Lying Leg Raise 3 x 10-12
  • Crunches 3 x, Start at 10 and work your way up, you can do weighted crunches when you get Swolier.

Legs, Calves & Curls – Day 4

  • BB Squat (Warm-up) 3 x 4-6
  • BB Lunge
  • Romanian Deadlift (RDL for short) 3 x 4-6
  • Seated Calf Raise 3 x 10-12
  • BB Curl 3 x 4-6
  • Chin-Ups 3 x, Do what you can even if it’s only one. Work up to 10-12 reps then go with weighted.

Closing Thoughts

The Posterior Chain is involved in almost everything we do and it bodes well for us to remember that. I want to live a long, strong, and healthy life. A life where I can perform activities that people, in my future age bracket, will be amazed at. Activities that are normal for us younger folks like taking a long walk or jog, playing sports, horseplaying around with friends and family and the list goes on. What is it that you love to do? Will you be able to do it in 20, 30, or 40 years? Think about those questions really hard. Every passing minute is another chance to turn it all around.

Beasts and Beastettes, until next time, stay SWOLE and I’ll catch ya on the flipside!

Cosmic Crackerjack 40 SWOLE FITNESS

The Old Yoga Mat and the Cat

The Old Yoga Mat and the Cat

I like to do yoga. I have an old yoga mat and one of those noise-making machines that you use to fall asleep. The bubbling brook is my favorite one. We call them creeks, but bubbling brook sounds better, I guess. I use it for meditation and getting into the yoga zone. I think I received it as a gift or something, a birthday maybe, I wouldn’t have bought it for myself under the advertised purpose. Sleeping is meant to be done in the quiet or not at all.

Yoga helps me to relax before bed or get limbered up in the morning. It also goes a long way in helping my aches and pains from strength training and other activities. My cat, Lily, is also a big fan. If you would like to start strength training then you can find out some information in this article I wrote HERE

The Old PussKat

Lily looks like a regular house cat, but don’t be fooled. She does yoga and is a great strength training coach. I met Lily back in 2007 when my wife and I started dating. We’ve been together ever since. It wasn’t until I started lifting weights and doing yoga that she took a real interest in my activities. Watching me lift weights from the doorway or a chair, just lingering in the area like a stalker.

The Old Yoga Mat and the Cat 2

The Old Yoga Mat

My wife had an old yoga mat I started using one day. I was going to try my hand at striking a pose. I unrolled it out on the floor of my weight room, and the result was instantaneous. She was on it. Like anything new to a cat, they have to inspect it. That was all I thought it was at the time. I was wrong about that.

The mat is fastened in its roll by a strip of velcro and when I pull the strip to release my inner Zen Master, she comes trotting in. Every time. The appeal is the mat 1st, I believe, but secondly, it’s the new space I’m occupying. When I’m on her level it must bring about kinship to her, like a Pride of Lions. She lays on my foot, if she can, or props her body up beside mine and sprawls out. Anything to be close to me while I’m down on the floor. The factory-built purr engine she came equipped with getting louder and louder. Eventually, I have to brush her off the mat onto the carpet beside me. She’ll watch me curiously the whole time while she rolls, and stretches, and does her own thing at my side.

Twenty minutes later, with the mat rolled up and fastened, we part ways. Until next time.

Dream a Little Dream

Cats are great yoga partners and weight lifting coaches. They watch everything you do and take mental notes about form and other critiques. Lily will be eighteen this year and I look for her to live for many more birthdays to come. She’s been my gym partner for a long time. I’ve been teaching her English in hopes that she will learn how to speak and give me all the feedback she has collected over that time. I think it’s working, but I can’t be certain just yet.

Hold on a second, folks. “What did you say, Lily? ”

Man, I wish cats could talk. Don’t you?

Muscular Strength Exercises for Building Muscle at Home

Muscular strength exercises are a core foundation of a healthy body and mind. If you are reading this, then I am going to wager that is what you have been digging around for in the basement of Google’s cobwebby corners. Building muscle at home is a bonus since ALL of these strength-building exercises can be performed at home. Yes, at home. Your home, with minimal space required. All on your own schedule. Sounds great, right? FYI this is the 2nd article in my Getting Swole 101 series. I hope you gain some knowledge and muscle during the course of our journey together, enjoy!

Muscular Strength Exercises

Basic Equipment Requirements for Home Strength Training

I said that you can perform all of these exercises from home. That is a true statement if you have the correct equipment. Some of you will have accumulated a variety of equipment for building strength and muscle. But for those of you that are just starting, you will have to drop a few coins on some tools of the trade. To get us rolling in the right direction, I will list out all the necessary gear for the strength training exercises.

There you have it. Now, getting all of that is not exactly the cheapest route you can take. But it is the best overall option in terms of value. When you factor in a gym membership, your time, and the hassle of going back and forth to the gym, you end up saving more than money. We can’t get that travel time back, folks. It’s gone for good.

Now, I purchased all the items above and some more accessory items and gear myself. Personally, I think the investment was a sound one. What is more motivating than an activity room full of strength training equipment that is accessible any time you want to use it? The answer is nothing. Once you begin Getting Swole it becomes an addiction, one of the healthy ones, of course. Addiction to weightlifting is like slinging back a 40 ounce from the Fountain of Youth. Healthy living keeps us strong and able-bodied well into our 60’s, 70’s, and even 80’s. I’m still gonna be going strong in my Golden Years. How about you?

You can check out my recommendations and the individual product specifications by clicking on each one.

Building The Beast

This video is some awesome motivation!!

I’m just gonna come right out and give it to you. I have my strength training exercises blocked out in phases. Currently, I am on the 1st Phase of my training regimen and I’m going to list it below. But first, let’s give it a little background.

phase

 an individual part of a process, series, or ranking

“phase,” Merriam-Webster.com Thesaurus, https://www.merriam-webster.com/thesaurus/phase

You see, what I do is strength train in one phase for eight to ten weeks with a rest period of up to a week in between. Then I move on to Phase 2 and so on until I have completed the whole cycle. Think of it as a transformation from a caterpillar into a butterfly. Once the whole cycle is complete, you will start the process over again with some tweaking and streamlining here and there. Since we will inevitably get stronger upon completing each cycle.

Additionally, you might find that you want to add some accessory work on non-training days or at the tail end of a workout. They do not have to be muscular strength exercises they could be more cardio or endurance based if you prefer. I like to throw in cable crunches, calf raises, or bicep curls at the end of my 1st or last workout of the week. We all need more abs and calves, right?!

There are 6 Phases to our training regimen and each one has you training 4 days a week. Individual workouts will last roughly an hour. This allows plenty of time for your body to rest and recover. Imagine, 4 hours a week to improve your physique and live a long, healthy, and productive life. Stop the Daydreaming and get started!!

Muscular Strength Exercises for Getting Swole

Muscular Strength Exercises 2

Here is a quick note about warm-up sets and working sets. Warm-up sets are 2 sets of 10 repetitions with 50% of your working set weight and 1 set of 5 repetitions with 70-75% of your working set. Working sets are 3 sets of 4 to 6 repetitions. Once you get 6 repetitions for 3 consecutive sets then gradually move up to heavier weights. This is how we build muscle from these muscular strength exercises and Get Swole Up!!

Phase 1

Push & Abs – Day 1

  • Flat BB Bench (warm-up) 3 x 4-6
  • Incline BB Bench 3 x 4-6
  • Flat DB Bench 3 x 4-6
  • Tri Pushdown (w/rope attachment) 3 x 4-6
  • Cable Crunch 3 x 6-8

Pull & CalvesDay 2

  • BB Deadlift (warm-up) 3 x 4-6
  • 1 Arm DB Row 3 x 4-6
  • Wide Grip Lat Pulldown 3 x 4-6
  • BB Curl (straight bar) 3 x 4-6
  • Standing Calf Raise 3 x 6-8

Upper Body & CoreDay 3

  • BB Military Press (warm-up) 3 x 4-6
  • Close Grip Bench 3 x 4-6
  • DB Side Lat Raise 3 x 4-6
  • Standing DB Rear Lat Raise 3 x 4-6
  • Cable Crunch 3 x 10-12

Legs, Calves & CurlsDay 4

  • BB Squat (warm-up) 3 x 4-6
  • DB Lunge 3 x 4-6
  • RDL 3 x 4-6
  • Standing Calf Raise 3 x 10-12
  • DB Preacher Curl 3 x 4-6

These workouts should be completed over a 7 day period. Performing them on consecutive days and resting for the remainder of the week is what I recommend. Make sure that you get enough rest between workouts and listen to your body.

To be Continued

So, you have Phase 1 of your workout routine to begin your training with and I am right there by your side. As I said, I have wrapped back around and started the cycle all over again with strength and size improvements to fuel fresh gains for this cycle. I hope you have as much success as I have with developing strength and Getting Swole.

Remember that the great opportunity is where you are. Opportunities for self-improvement are all around us. All that is required is commitment and determination. I challenge you to commit to this routine for 8 weeks. Do this and I guarantee that you will see and feel the results. Give it 6 weeks and see how your body has changed. It won’t be drastic, but certainly noticeable to you and others. The results will only get better as you progress through the phases.

I hope you found this article helpful and informative. Come back and join me for the next installment of Getting Swole 101, where I’ll be dropping knowledge on Phase 2.

Time to get that blood rushing and get a pump!! Catch ya on the flipside!!

Getting Swole 101: Muscles & Movements

Getting Swole Up: The 6 Target Muscle Groups

The process of Getting Swole is simple enough if you know how to go about it. That’s why I’m here. To slip you a one-way ticket aboard the every elusive Gain Train. So, grab your strength training gear, pick up the knowledge I’m droppin’, and strap in!!

Getting Swole 101: Muscles & Movements 2

There are literally hundreds of different training exercises that you can perform. Some are ok, some are shit, but only a few are truly worth the effort. These few will be ours! We will cherish them for their simplicity and effectiveness and keep them nourished with our blood, crying fat, and tears. Until one day in the not-so-distant future, we will look in the mirror and all our hopes and dreams will be there. Swole Up for the whole world to see. This, my friends, is a battle to the death. Time stops for no man, but it will slow down for a Swole Man!

Getting Swole 101: Muscles & Movements

We will be targeting 6 major muscle groups on our journey. You will find them in the bullet points below.

  • Chest
  • Back
  • Shoulders
  • Arms
  • Core
  • Legs (Yes, Calves)

Speaking of journeys, if you’d like to know a little about me and mine you can find that HERE.

Training for Gains: What’s Your Why?

We have all been there. Weight Training for the hell of it. No rhyme or reason. Day after day, year after year, with nothing to show for it. I did it for years until I realized why I was training. Then I researched to best methods to get there. Which you are probably doing right this moment.

Training is a way of life. It never leaves us. I believe we are wired that way from birth. Sure, we might stray from time to time, but we always come back to it. We have to. It’s something primal and instinctive that is beyond my words. It just feels like home, ya know?

We all have a, Why? when it comes to fitness and weight training. Mine was and is age. I worked out for years with minimal size and strength gains until I dug down real effin” deep and found the balls to stick it out and get serious. You know why? Weight lifting slows down our aging process by way of muscle preservation. I’m getting old, almost 40!

Sarcopenia

Age-related muscle loss is a naturally occurring condition known officially as age-related Sarcopenia. According to the National Institutes of Health, Sarcopenia, or the decline of skeletal muscle tissue with age, is one of the main causes of functional decline and loss of independence in older adults.

Weightlifting is our salvation, specifically heavy compound exercises like the squat, deadlift, and bench press. It doesn’t matter what age you are. It is never too late to start and reap the benefits that the Iron can provide.

Enough of my blabbering. Let’s go through the 6 target muscle groups and outline the best exercises you can do for each one. DrumRollllllll!!!

The Best Exercises for Strength, Aesthetics, and Getting Swole Up

Chest

Barbell

  • Flat Bench Press
  • Incline Bench Press

Dumbbell

  • Flat Dumbbell Bench Press
  • Incline Dumbbell Bench Press

Bodyweight w/optional belt and weight attachment

  • Dips

Back

Barbell

  • Deadlift
  • Barbell Row

Dumbbell

  • Alternating One-Arm Dumbbell Row

Bodyweight w/optional belt and weight attachment

  • Pull-Up
  • Chin-Up

Machine Required

  • Lateral Pull-Down (Wide & Close Grip)
  • Seated Cable Row (Wide & Close Grip)

Shoulders

Barbell

  • Standing Overhead Press
  • Barbell Rear Deltoid Row

Dumbbell

  • Seated/Standing Press
  • Front Raise
  • Side Lateral Raise
  • Rear Lateral Raise
  • Rear Deltoid Row

Arms (Biceps & Triceps)

Barbell

  • Barbell Curl (straight bar and E-Z Bar)
  • Close-Grip Bench Press
  • SkullCrushers (E-Z Bar required)

Dumbbell

  • Preacher Curl
  • Hammer Curl

Bodyweight w/optional belt and weight attachment

  • Chin-up
  • Dips

Machine Required

  • Triceps Pushdown (rope or short bar attachment)

Core

Bodyweight w/optional weighted accessories, plates, dumbbells, medicine balls, ect…

  • Lying Leg Raise
  • Plank
  • Crunch
  • Sit-Up

Ab wheel required

  • Ab Rollout

Machine required

  • Cable Crunch

Legs & Calves

Barbell

  • Squat
  • Front Squat
  • Romanian Deadlift (RDL for short)
  • Calf Raise (standing and seated)

Dumbbell and Barbell

  • Lunges

Conclusion

36. That number will change your life.

That is how many exercises are listed above. Everything you have ever wanted starts with this number. Perform these 36 exercises over and over until they are woven into the fabric of your soul. Weight lifting makes us strong, not only physically but mentally. Mustering the willpower necessary to change your lifestyle is no small feat. Do this, my friends, and you will have the strength to accomplish anything. Plus, getting a really good muscle pump feels Fantastic!! I can’t do the feeling justice but Arnold Schwarzenegger sure can.

Up next, We will begin the process of Getting Swole by putting these 36 exercises into a workout routine that you will use. Sounds easy, right? Well, it is! I hope you will join me for the next installment of Getting Swole 101.

Take it easy, Breezy. I’ll catch ya on the flipside!!

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