There are many principles of overload training. The most effective technique in my opinion is negative repetitions.
In every moment there is two types of muscle contractions:
- Concentric or the Contracting phase
- Eccentric or the Relaxing phase
Example: The bench press. As the weight is forced up of your chest you are contracting your chest concentrically. As the weight is lowered back to your chest you are contracting eccentrically, on this movement you are recruiting more muscle fibers, therefore you are stronger on an eccentric contraction, so why not exploit this fact with some negative reps.
How do you do negatives?
You will need a spotter or spotters. Again using the bench press as an example, go to failure on your 2nd or 3rd or both sets and then have your spotter(s) lift the weight off your chest and then release, slowly lower the weight to your chest and again spotter(s) lift and repeat for 5 to 7 reps. To really fatigue the body part being trained.
Too many people use the word “tone” incorrectly!
I meet so many people every day wanting to “tone-up” without misunderstanding how this really happens. Toning does not mean turning fat into muscle (this is impossible!)
I define toning as “decreasing the amounts of adipose tissue (fat) deposited between our muscle and our skin, thus exposing the shapes and contours of the underlying muscle tissue.”
Example: Every body has a “six-pack” but the difference between a toned six-pack and a jelly belly is not the size of the rectus abdominus muscle but the amount of fat covering it.
In order to achieve that “toned” look you must incorporate a consistent effort toward cardio vascular conditioning. All those crunches are doing wonders for your posture and core strength but are doing very little toward achieving that washboard stomach.