The topic of building muscle can be made complicated.

Extremely complicated.

We can obsess about every little detail behind optimal training frequency, number of sets, exercise selection, rep ranges, rep speed, time under tension, resting between sets and more until the whole thing seems like friggin’ rocket science.

Yes, all of these individual factors need to be addressed when structuring an effective muscle building workout… but at the heart of it all lies ONE key principle.

One principle that your ENTIRE training program should be based around.

If you don’t give it your full attention, or even worse, you overlook it altogether…

You’re completely ignoring the very foundation of the entire muscle building process.

What am I talking about?

The Law Of Progressive Overload

To put it into simple terms, the law of progressive overload states that in order for you to gain new muscle each week, you must:

1) Train with a sufficient level of intensity in order to stimulate the body’s muscle growth mechanism.

Muscle growth is an adaptive response to stress, and if that stress doesn’t cross a certain threshold then your body has no incentive to grow.

The plain reality is that you will not make significant increases in muscle mass and strength unless you train at a level that is at (or close to) your maximum potential effort.

2) Consistently increase the amount of weight lifted on each exercise over time.

If you were bench pressing 175 pounds 3 months ago, and you’re still using the same weight today, do you think your chest will have grown any bigger in that time?

In order for the muscles to continually increase in size and strength, they must be presented with greater and greater amounts of stress each workout.

As soon as your strength stagnates, so will your muscle gains.

If you want to get bigger and more muscular over time, you need to focus on systematically increasing the amount of weight lifted and reps performed every single time you enter the gym.

To sum up the law of progressive overload in simple terms:

Train hard. Focus on getting stronger. Repeat.

It doesn’t matter how good you think your workout plan is… It doesn’t matter how many articles you’ve studied or videos you’ve watched… It doesn’t matter how much time you spend daydreaming about your ideal physique…

If you aren’t grinding it out in the gym by training at or close to your limits every single time… and you aren’t adding weight to the bar consistently… you can be rest assured you won’t be building any muscle either.

It’s as simple as that.

Progressive overload is the ultimate bottom line and is the single most important factor for determining if your workout plan is getting the job done.

So, if you want the most powerful (yet basic) piece of training advice possible, it’s simply this:

Get a notebook and a pen and start tracking every workout in detail.

Write down the exercises you performed, the number of sets you did and the number of reps executed for each one.

Next time you enter the gym, your entire goal is to “beat the logbook” by either adding slightly more weight to the bar or cranking out an extra rep or two with the same weight.

Do this for every workout of every week of every month and you’ll be astounded at how dramatically your gains accelerate.

It still boggles my mind that 90% of people in the gym don’t do this. (Then again, it’s no surprise that 90% of people never make any real progress)

The law of progressive overload: treat it with respect and you’ll be greatly rewarded.

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