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How To Build Muscle WITHOUT Lifting Heavier (5 Science-Based Hacks)

Optimise your progress and results.

Learn how to build muscle without lifting heavier with these great tips from Jeremy Ethier.

How To Build Muscle WITHOUT Lifting Heavier

“When it comes to how to build muscle, we all know the importance of progressive overload. However, what most of us fail to realize is that the progressive overload principle isn’t limited to just adding more weight to an exercise. By definition it simply means doing more than you’ve done before, which places greater tension on your muscles overtime and causes them to grow. And there are a variety of ways to accomplish this without the need to add on more weight (i.e. you’ll be able to progressive overload at home). In this video, I’ll show you how to build muscle without heavy weights, so you can continue maximizing growth without lifting heavier.”

How To Build Muscle WITHOUT Lifting Heavier

“One of the things we can do for more growth without adding more weight is to vary our lifting tempo. By simply slowing down our reps, our muscles will now experience greater time under tension to stimulate more growth.”

hypertrophy programs How To Build Muscle WITHOUT Lifting HeavierSource: Photo courtesy of CrossFit Inc.

“And that’s also a key to the progressive overload principle. However, there is a threshold beyond which slowing down the speed of your lifts has a detrimental effect on hypertrophy. A lifting tempo of roughly 0.5-3 seconds for the concentric and eccentric portions of your reps is best.  Another way we can build more muscle without heavier weights is by using the same load and performing the same amount of reps BUT with more efficiency. Meaning that you’re lifting the same load but with better form, more control, and with better activation of the target muscle.”

“The next thing we can do to progressive overload at home is to shorten the rest periods we take between our sets. Because if we can go from performing let’s say a dumbbell shoulder press for 10 reps at a certain weight with 3 minutes of rest in between sets, to now performing the same reps and weight but with just 2 minutes of rest, we’ll stimulate more growth due to the added metabolic stress.”

How To Build Muscle WITHOUT Lifting Heavier

“However, we don’t want to shorten the rest times to the point where our volume and reps performed decrease significantly. For your main compound movements in the gym and even compound bodyweight movements, you wouldn’t want to decrease your rest times to shorter than 2 minutes. Whereas for isolation movements, you can decrease your rest periods to 60-90 seconds.”

“Another thing we can do for progressive overload is alter the range of motion of our exercises. If you perform these various exercises with the same amount of weight, yet simply increase the range of motion of the exercise, you can effectively increase both the stretch and the time under tension your muscle experiences during each rep and as a result stimulate more growth.”

“Also, because lifting light weights with higher a rep range builds comparable muscle growth as heavier weights with a lower rep range do as long as you’re pushing to or close to failure, you can just simply increase the numbers of reps you perform per set to maximize muscle growth. As for how high to go, the threshold seems to be right around 30 reps or so.”

“So, as for how to best implement these 5 methods, I would recommend always starting with efficiency before moving onto the other methods. So for example let’s say you can perform 3 sets of 15 reps of a weighted push-up and are now ready to overload it to stimulate some more growth. To do so, you should first start by aiming to perform those 3 sets of 15 reps with better form and with better activation of your chest. Only once you nail that down should you then move onto the various other methods I discussed in this ‘how to build muscle without heavy weights’ video to make the movement even more difficult.”

How To Build Muscle WITHOUT Lifting Heavier

“All in all though guys tension is tension, and your muscles can’t tell whether you apply that extra tension on your muscle by lifting heavier or by using some of the methods I went through in this ‘how to build muscle without lifting heavier’ video. And although there does eventually come a point where it’s just more convenient to overload your movements by adding more weight, I hope you were able to see that there are nonetheless many viable ways that you can continue stimulating growth without the need to lift heavier.”

Video – How To Build Muscle WITHOUT Lifting Heavier

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