Shock Your Muscles | Increase Muscle Hypertrophy

Written by Cory Scharwarth

Increase Muscle Hypetrophy

Everybody wants to find the next big exercise trend to increase muscle hypertrophy. Exercise enthusiasts experiment with different supplements, rep schemes, and loading principles trying to find what works best for them. Over time even the most intense exercise programs begin to show little change in the muscles as your body gets used to the routine. You start to plateau, and begin to search for new ideas to incorporate into your program. Once you reach a plateau, you need to shock your muscles to see more gains.

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If you’ve been training for a long time you have probably already tried most of the different muscle shocking principles. According to the ACSM, “As muscles adapt to a training program, the participant should continue to subject them to overload or greater stimuli to continue to increase muscular strength and mass” (Pescatello, S. L.). This principle is known as the progressive overload principle. Different ways to progress include increasing the load, sets, reps, exercises, or training sessions per week. Decreasing the rest period between sets and changing the exercise selection each week can also cause muscle shock. There are plenty of different methods that can be used to shock the muscles. A method that I find to be very effective is Undulating Periodization.

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“Undulating Periodization is using different loads, reps, and sets in a resistance training program on different days of the week. The purpose behind this is to get your body to respond to a variety of different challenges rather than focusing on only one challenge at a time” (NASM). An example of an undulating periodization program would be performing 12 repetitions at 50% of 6RM on Monday, 10 repetitions at 75% of 6RM on Wednesday, and 1 repetition of 100% 6RM on Friday. Each day the number of sets per exercise can vary with the rep scheme. The change in sets and repetitions each day will cause a shock in the muscles. The muscles will not be able to adapt to the new training stimulus because each day it will change from muscular endurance, hypertrophy, strength, and power.


By using undulating periodization you are using a variety of different training methods, which can help you reach plenty of goals. I personally enjoy lifting heavy, while also incorporating bodybuilding techniques into my program. The use of undulating periodization lets me continue to lift heavy while bodybuilding. In a study done using elderly subjects aged 55-75 years old, two experimental groups were assigned to an undulating periodization program occurring 2 days a week for 12 weeks. “The results showed both training groups, HRC and TS, showed improvements in strength accompanied by an increase in muscle mass, which suggests neural and morphological adaptations were elicited” (Romero-Arena, S. et al.). The increase in strength among the experimental groups showed the effectiveness of undulating periodization.

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The body is amazingly adaptable and gets used to different workloads very quickly. Repeatedly putting the same stress on the body will result in no additional progress. The body’s physique will no longer change if it is being placed under the same amount of stress, and exercise routine. The body will continue to see health and physical fitness benefits, but they will stay the same. If you want to see a change in muscle growth, you have to bring change into your training.


There are a wide variety of different shocking principles you can incorporate into your exercise program. “Some different shocking techniques include: forced reps, partial reps, isolation training, negative repetitions, forced negatives, cheating method, heavy-duty method, staggered sets, supersets, stripping method, isotension principle, instinctive principle, pre-exhaust principle, I go/ you go, flushing method, multi-exercise sets, one-and-a-half method, platoon system, and progressive workload” (Schwarzenegger, A.). The use of these different principles will shock the muscles, and cause a change in muscle growth. The methods are easy to apply, and are very effective in muscle shock.

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I know people do not like to get out of their comfort zones, and like things to be routine. The same goes for people in the gym. Many lifters fall in love with the results they have gained, and are too afraid to change up their program. They think if they change their routine they will lose the gains they have made. Just like everything else in life, change is hard. Change is needed to progress, and is inevitable. Going out of your comfort zone, and changing your program can result in many gains you never imagined were possible of achieving. Try using a different shocking principle, and see if it works for you. Your muscles will be shocked, and begin to feel sore again. Once they get used to the new training technique, you can switch them again to avoid plateauing. Learn what works for you, and remember change can be a good thing.

Our articles should be used for informational and educational purposes only and are not intended to be taken as medical advice. If you’re concerned, consult a health professional before taking dietary supplements or introducing any major changes to your diet.

Faye Reid

Faye Reid

Writer and expert

Faye Reid has a Bachelor of Science in Sport and Exercise Physiology and a Master of Science in Exercise Physiology and Sports Nutrition. Faye has worked with numerous high-profile organisations, such as Men's Health, Sky Sports, Huddersfield Giants, Warrington Wolves, British Dressage and GB Rowing, providing her expert sports science support. Find out more about Faye's experience here: She puts her passion into practice as goal attack for her netball team, and in competitive event riding.

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