3 strategies to optimize mechanical tension when lifting weights

Increasing muscle mass is one of the main goals when training with weights. There are many exercises that can stimulate hypertrophy (muscle growth). Of course, there are techniques that are much more effective than others , everything will depend on us doing them correctly and making sure we are in a safe area, so that injuries do not occur.

One of the most effective ways to achieve hypertrophy is through the force that is created when our muscle contracts against a load. How to do it? It is enough with heavy exercises in which a free weight is used and we use several joints. Although, there are more things that need to be taken into account for maximum hypertrophy stimulation .

We explain 3 strategies to improve mechanical tension lifting weights .

How to optimize mechanical stress

1. Choose the correct weight

Gradually increasing weight is one of the most effective ways to create good mechanical tension when lifting weights . In this way, it is highly recommended to increase some weight on the bar (from 1.25 to 2.5Kg) each time you do a routine, this forces the muscle to adapt and grow.

And this why? Simple, load and voltage are related. The greater the load that is placed on the bar, the greater the force that is created and pushed by gravity.

During routine design, the relationship between load and tension must be taken into account in order to create an effective program. The number of repetitions also comes into play here.

It is recommended to lift weights in a range that is between 3 and 12 repetitions. It is proven that these ranges are equivalent to 70 to 90% of our 1MR (maximum weight that we can lift once), which will produce more mechanical stress in the movement.

2. Increase your range of motion

It is important not to take lightly the exercises that are introduced into our routine. We have to make sure we only do those that will give us the results we want.

Therefore, factors such as range of motion, force curve, and the relationship between length and weight must be taken into account. Not all exercises are the same, and some can create better mechanical stress than others if we give importance to the variables mentioned above.

Exercising your muscles with range of motion in mind will force them to contract as you stretch. One of the reasons is because of this that it helps create a lot more tension. There are also very specific cases, in which it is convenient to take the range of motion a little further, thus creating even greater tensions. For these cases it is best to use lighter weights.

3. Create passive tension

Passive tension occurs when a muscle in 2 joints is forced to stretch at one, but at the same time contracts at the other joint.

Viewed from a mechanical stress point of view, this creates better length-tension, helping to maximize that muscle’s ability to produce more force . It also increases the hypertrophy that will occur during rest and recovery.

The passive tension must be used correctly , as this will help to create tension in specific groups of muscle fibers that allow greater muscular development. For example, we have the triceps. These are bi-articulated: they cross the shoulder and elbow joint. The most triceps exercises are done with the humerus starting or ending flexion, as funds triceps.

Exercises like this shorten the position of the long head of the triceps , but at the same time put the humerus above the head in shoulder flexion, which extends the long head to its full length. This creates a good amount of passive tension by maximizing the length-tension ratio.

This technique is not limited to the triceps only, it is also effective for the biceps, calves and hamstrings; that is, any biarticular zone.


If we seek to subject our muscles to greater mechanical stress to obtain better results, these techniques must be taken into account. It is necessary to increase the load gradually, focus on creating passive tension and involve exercises that allow us to have a greater range of motion.

However, it cannot be forgotten that mechanical stress is only one of many ways to stimulate hypertrophy . It is best to always vary and do different exercises, which will achieve full muscle development.

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