Loading Protocols To Build Muscle Pt. 1

Loading Protocols To Build Muscle Pt. 1

Quick Refresher on Muscle Building Principles


During the eccentric (lowering) part of the lift, contractile elements (actin and myosin) in the working muscles exert a resistance action that creates small tears in both the contractile elements and surface membrane (sarcolemma) of the fibers. Subsequent repair (recovery) will strengthen the tissue in order to protect against further damage (adaptation).


Metabolic stress results from the accumulation of various metabolites (e.g., lactic acid, inorganic phosphate, etc.), primarily because of training in the fast glycolytic energy system. Carbohydrates are used anaerobically to fuel performance.


Refers to the amount of force/tension within the muscle fibers in response to a static or dynamic stimulus. In other words, "How Much Weight Are You Using". The reaction increases protein synthesis and muscle size. The goal is to activate as many muscle fibers as possible to maximize the response. (Lift Heavy)

4) FASCIA STRETCH TRAINING (Honorable Mention)

A lesser talked about mechanism, but it pertains to pumping specific muscle groups full of oxygenated blood in a relatively short period of time, forcing the fascia tissue to stretch and expand like a balloon. (Density Training) This packs nutrient and oxygen rich blood into and around the muscle cells to promote repair and growth.


There are several different ways to execute your hypertrophy training. We will touch on the most utilized and basic loading parameters in this article and part 2 will get more advanced.

Horizontal loading

The most common. Horizontal loading, follows the principle that each exercise or muscle group is completely trained before moving on to the next exercise. With this approach, you exhaust one group of muscles before working the next. So, you choose an exercise and do the first set. Once you’ve completed the initial set, you rest for a specified time and repeat the set until you’ve completed goal number of sets of a single exercise. 

Vertical loading

Most often seen in circuit style training, characterized by each circuit having being comprised of a sequence of back-to-back exercises. (i.e., chest press > squats > rows, repeat). Main difference here? Rest is limited and there is less emphasis on "strength training" properties.

So Which is Better?

Well...It Depends.

For most hypertrophy training and those chasing the pump, horizontal loading is usually the best to keep the specific muscle(s) flooded with blood and nutrients and maximize tension. Also, Horizontal loading tends to be the better option for gaining overall strength and size due to the manipulation of rest intervals. 

However, if time is an issue or you need a break from traditional training..Vertical will have its place. Remember a piece to hypertrophy for example is metabolic stress, one fast and efficient way to accomplish this is an organized circuit to tap into the energy system necessary to elicit the adaptation.


Lock in. 

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