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Progressive Overload

Adding More Weight = More Progress Over Time

The internet has vast amounts of information on how to train when to train and all the many styles to accomplish your fitness goals.  One training concept that has been long proven is progressive overload.  The importance of this principle will make a significant impact on the outcome of your workouts.  It addresses the weight, and amount of repetitions done in each exercise.  Although many may see this as a strength training technique you can adapt progressive overload to almost any style of training with a variation.  So what is progressive overload, how do you use it and why is it important?


As you may feel you are plateauing or the workouts just don't feel challenging enough, the solution is not only increasing the reps or changing all the exercises, try progressive overload.  NASM found that the Principle of Progression states that increases in time, weight, or intensity should be kept within 10% or less each week to allow for a gradual adaptation while minimizing the risk of injury. Without this progressive overloading, muscle growth will plateau.


Any type of training whether you're a  swimmer, HIIT enthusiast, aerobics expert, or prefer athletic training, the body will adapt to the current training program.  To improve your routine the plan must be modified to a more progressively overload routine. Due to the progression being maintained and controlled, there is little risk of injury, but all precautions should be considered.  Check your form, maintain a steady lifting pace and control breathing and posture.  


The concept is addressing your whole routine and increasing the repetitions and the weight.  If your routine is 3 sets of 12 repetitions then you can increase the weight to 5-10%.  Keep in mind that the repetitions might decrease to 8-12 repetitions because of the increase in weight.  With progressive overload, you are attacking the muscle tension by increasing the load which will assist the muscles in adapting to an increased force output over time.  To sum it up, this additional force placed upon the muscles will require the muscles to work harder, which will require more muscle fibers to activate. 


During this period when the muscles are adapting to the new force, it is important to check in with the form and how much energy is being exerted to see if the amount of weight is manageableNo matter the style of training you are working on such as drop sets, pyramid, negatives, or any other style, program accordingly and use the best judgment in the amount of increased weight you can manage.  Keep these tips handy as you continue to work out you will continue to progress and grow your muscles.  Give yourself time to adapt to the new overload plan and once you begin to feel the plateau again, reassess your plan.  It's crucial to take your time and do not rush the process as some days may seem easier than others. Continue to challenge yourself, eat a healthy diet to support your workouts as well as maintain a recovery day to supplement your workouts.

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