Muscular Tension, Muscle Damage, & Mechanical Stress

Once we find something we like, we tend to “ride it ‘til the wheels fall off” and continue to do the same things until infinity. If it worked before, it’ll always work, right? Building is always a case muscle hypertrophy, or making muscles grow. There are multiple ways of using resistance training to build muscle: You can create muscular tension with heavy weights and stretching (1) You can create more muscle damage (2), or you can use what’s known as metabolic stress.

With creating muscular tension, you can use weights heavier than what’s recommended to grow muscle (1-5 reps), and you’ll start off recruiting or causing your body to use more muscle than it would if you lifted in the recommended rep ranges. The problem created by this would be that your set wouldn’t last long enough to maximize muscle growth, or the time under tension (the amount of time it takes to complete a set) would be too short.


When you lift weights with rep ranges between 6-12 reps, you create more metabolic stress, than you would by lifting heavier weights. Think of instances when you perform sets of an exercise, and your muscles start to burn as partially creating metabolic stress. Which is when your body produces hydrogen ions, and lactic acid. When this happens, your body is forced to recruit more muscle to finish the task (recruit more muscle, cause more muscle to grow). Super sets, drop sets, circuits performed working the same muscle group, and even escalating density training, all use increased metabolic stress as a way to help you build muscle. Metabolic stress can also be created by performing higher reps with very short rest, or even when you perform an isometric hold, before performing a regular set, without rest. And the good thing about using workouts that increase metabolic stress is that they also create situations that are great for helping you lose body fat.


I’m not attempting to say that one method is better than the other. I’ve came across a lot of people who say, this method is “not my thing”, or “I don’t do that!”, which I think is foolish if you’re a fitness professional, because you should cater the method to solve their problems. Instead of using just one method, and hope that you get where you want to be before your body figures out what you’re trying to do to it, you can use periodization, and vary the ways that you progressively overload your muscles, so that you can take advantage of the multiple ways to build muscle, and continue to make progress. You can create muscular tension with heavier weights for a while. You can also increase the amount of work done, or increase the volume of the workouts. And you can even shorten the rest periods, try different types of extended sets (super sets, drop sets, tri-sets…) or increase the density of your workouts. If you want, to see these principles properly put to use in a workout program, try some of our Membership Programs, or our Superhero Program e-Books!