Breon Ansley’s Shoulder Training — Heavy Weight Doesn’t Guarantee Hypertrophy

Breon Ansley suggests muscle stimulation is more important than load.

Two-time Classic Physique Olympia champ (2017-18) Breon Ansley has been hitting the weights with a newfound intensity as he conditions his physique to compete in the 212 division. That transition unshackles Ansley chained from the weight cap required in the Classic Physique division, and he’s looking to add as much mass to his frame as possible.

While lifting heavier weights is often linked with muscle growth, Ansley believes lifting heavy doesn’t necessarily lead to hypertrophy. Instead, he trains for muscle stimulation with little rest between sets. He explained why during a shoulder training session in a video published on his YouTube channel on March 22, 2023. Check it out below:

[Related: Jay Cutler Displays Dumbbell Bench Press Tips for Chest Hypertrophy]

Importance of Muscular Endurance for Aesthetics 

It’s typical for Ansley to rest longer when lifting heavy weights, but keeping rest periods short keeps his muscles warm. 

The rest periods can stay very low at all times [even when the load is heavy]…muscular endurance increases, overall look definitely increases.”

According to BMJ Open Sport & Exercise Medicinemuscular endurance is one of the five components of fitness. The other four are muscular strength, cardiovascular endurance, flexibility, and body composition. (1) Muscular endurance refers to the ability of the muscles to produce maximum output before exhaustion. For example, NFL recruits’ muscular endurance is tested via a 225-pound bench press for as many reps as possible at the NFL Combine. 

[Related: Jay Cutler vs. Nick Walker: A Fantasy Bodybuilding Showdown]

Is Lifting Heavy Best For Hypertrophy?

Although many believe the heavier the weights, the bigger the muscles, Ansley disputes this notion:

Just because you’re lifting heavy weights…it won’t translate into being big and round.

Ansley named several robust lifters who are “as strong as an ox,” but their muscles don’t look “3D” on stage in a way that judges are likely to reward.

“That’s because they lack the bodybuilding essentials,” Ansley says. “The bodybuilding essentials are form, time under tension, and mind-muscle connection.”

Time under tension is how long a muscle is under load. The mind-muscle connection is one’s capacity to concentrate on the target muscle and activate its fibers through its full range of motion.

Good technique and isolation are a component of the bodybuilding essentials. Ansley stimulates his muscles using technique and isolation rather than focusing solely on increasing the load. He calls this strategy “fatigue stress.” 

Fatigue stress can be implemented via more reps, shortening rest periods between sets, or doing reps at a slower tempo. Bodybuilding is about training muscles, not training movements.

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  1. Berduszek, R. J., Geerdink, H., van der Sluis, C. K., Reneman, M. F., & Dekker, R. (2021). Health-related physical fitness in patients with complaints of hand, wrist, forearm and elbow: an exploratory study. BMJ open sport & exercise medicine7(4), e001148.

Featured image: @breonma_ on Instagram