Today is Fitness Friday! On Fridays, we seek to provide you with up-to-date conversations surrounding personal fitness and exercise routines, as well as techniques that we believe will boost your performance, inside the gym and out! Today’s subject is progressive overload. Progressive overload is a crucial principle in exercise training that involves gradually increasing the demands placed on the body during exercise to continue making progress. This can be achieved through various methods such as increasing the load (weight) lifted, increasing the volume (sets and reps), increasing the intensity (speed or effort), or altering the exercise itself.
The concept of progressive overload is based on the principle of adaptation, which states that the body will adapt to the stresses placed on it. When the body is subjected to new or increased demands, it must adapt in order to meet those demands. This adaptation can take the form of increased strength, improved endurance, and other physical improvements. By constantly challenging the body with new stimuli, we can continue making progress and adaptations, which can help prevent plateaus in training, as well as reduce the risk of overuse injuries by ensuring that the body is not being subjected to the same stressors for extended periods of time.
To implement progressive overload in your exercise training, it is important to consistently track and record your workouts, paying close attention to the specific variables (such as load, volume, and intensity) that you are using. This will allow you to accurately assess your progress and determine when it is appropriate to increase the demands on your body.
Here are some specific examples of how to achieve progressive overload in different types of training:
• Strength training:
If you are performing the bench press with a load of 100 pounds for 3 sets of 8 reps, you could aim to increase the load to 105 pounds for the same number of sets and reps the following week.
If you are performing leg press with a load of 200 pounds for 3 sets of 8 reps, you could aim to increase the volume to 4 sets of 8 reps the following week while keeping the load at 200 pounds.
• Endurance training:
If you are running on a treadmill for 30 minutes at a pace of 6 mph, you could aim to increase the intensity by increasing the speed to 6.5 mph for the same duration the following week.
If you are cycling for 45 minutes at a moderate intensity, you could aim to increase the volume by adding 15 minutes to your ride the following week.
• Sports training:
A basketball player may focus on increasing the load lifted during strength training exercises to improve their strength and power on the court.
A soccer player may focus on increasing the volume and intensity of their endurance training to improve their endurance and stamina during matches.
It is important to note that while progressive overload is necessary for continued progress, it is also important to listen to your body and not increase the demands on your body too quickly. This can lead to overtraining and potential injury.
It is also important to vary your training and incorporate different exercises and modalities to ensure overall balanced physical development. Lastly, it is important to incorporate proper recovery and nutrition into your training program to support the adaptations that occur as a result of progressive overload. Until next time…
- Baechle, T. R., & Earle, R. W. (2008). Essentials of strength training and conditioning (3rd ed.). Champaign, IL: Human Kinetics.
- Ratamess, N. A., Alvar, B. A., Evetoch, T. K., Housh, D. J., Kibler, W. B., Kraemer, W. J., … Smith, J. C. (2009). Progression models in resistance training for healthy adults. Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise, 41(3), 687-708.
- Schoenfeld, B. J. (2010). The mechanisms of muscle hypertrophy and their application to resistance training. Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research, 24(10), 2857-2872.