Everyone wishes they could see immediate results when they exercise, but realistically speaking, most of us realize that sustainable muscle growth is a long game. That’s why something like microloading, which allows you to push forward in smaller, more manageable increments, can be a great tool.
When you first start doing strength training, it doesn’t take much to make pretty impressive gains. Keeping them isn’t so easy, but when you’re starting at nothing, even the smallest something can be a lot. For those of you who’ve been doing it for a while, you may feel like you’ve plateaued. Have you gone as far as you can go, or do you need to change your approach?
This is where microloading comes into play. Like the name may suggest, microloading means that rather than trying to constantly up your weights with significant increases, you only add a tiny amount each time. Use a microplate on the end of your barbells; instead of 5 pounds, you might only add 2 pounds at a time.
You won’t gain muscle as quickly with microloading as you would with bigger weights, but this allows you to make progress even in the difficult times, when you’re stuck at a particularly challenging stage and the next marker feels impossibly far away. It moves the marker a little closer, while still allowing you to move forward.
Microloading doesn’t just help you gain muscle and lift bigger weights during your training sessions. It also improves your recovery prospects. The breaks in between sessions when your muscles repair and grow are just as important as when you’re straining them in the gym. Micro increases in weight don’t do as much damage, meaning recovery will be quicker and easier. There’s less risk that you’ll go back to your exercise before you fully heal.
The benefits of microloading aren’t only physical. It can provide a big psychological boost, allowing you to feel like you have achieved something even when you’re not making your bigger goals. Constant failure when trying to hit a bigger weight can cause pretty low moods, resulting in a lack of motivation and enthusiasm. This way, you gain confidence while working up to the bigger challenge.
Not everyone’s going to benefit from microloading all the time, but it’s definitely something worth considering if your muscle gain has stalled and you need a more manageable goal.