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Training: Progressive overload

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Fitness experts, gurus and trainers always do everything harder than it really is, it´s hard to find someone talking about progressive overload and if you´re looking to gain muscle mass this is the technique that will give you results. Most trainers follow the same routine for a very long period of time and when they get bored they do some changes. Mostly they go to the gym 5 or 6 days a week for an hour or more and do the same day split, with the same weight, the same sets and reps that´s why they always look the same.

It´s not only boring but also discouraging to train and don´t see any change in your body for me it´s a waste of time. If you want to improve the way you look and you´re not making progress you are not challenging yourself enough. Muscles grow bigger and stronger in response to training stimulus, you need to continue making greater demands, to progressively overload the muscles by forcing them to do more than they´re accustomed to if you don´t do it there´s no reason for them to grow. Your body is not going to change unless it is forced to, this is why you cannot get comfortable in the gym, once you get to a comfort zone if you stay there you´ll plateau.

Progressive overload means increasing demands on the muscles continually to make gains in muscle size, strength and endurance. You can use progressive overload not only for resistance training it´s also a great strategy to use for cardio training. The most common way to use this technique is by adding weight, every time you train the muscle you must be able to lift heavier, this is how the few trainers that know this technique use it but there are some other options for you to apply it.

The first and easiest option to increase overload is increase resistance, this is the most obvious way to increase the demand on the muscle, you simply add more weight to the one you are lifting, if you are lifting 60 pounds you can add 3 or 5 pounds more, this makes the exercise harder and you need to consider that when you increase the weight your reps are going to reduce for a period of time, then soon enough you´ll be able to do the same reps you were doing before you add weight but now with the added weight, this means you get stronger and you´re ready to add some more weight.

The next option is to increase reps sometimes it may be hard to increase weight specially if you workout at home then in this case adding reps is one of the options. If you lift 60 pounds for 6 reps then your next workout lift the same weight for 8 reps, and the next workout lift the same weight for 10 reps. As I mentioned before the best reps for hypertrophy is between 6 – 12 reps so when you get to the 12 reps you may consider another option to increase overload. Once you get to 12 reps don´t keep adding more and more reps indefinitely because you´ll be training for endurance and not muscle size.

Next option is to increase the volume which as I mentioned before is the number of sets, on the option before you added more reps so here you´ll be increasing the number of sets. If you are doing 3 sets of the exercise then do 4 sets, by doing 1 more set you increase the amount of work.

Another option is increasing time frequency, by training the same muscle 2 times a week you increase the overload you are making your muscle work harder.

The last option for progressive overload is to decrease rest time between sets, with resistance training the workouts are structured in sets and rests intervals, depending on the amount of weight you are lifting this rest intervals may be from 90 sec. to 3 min. instead of resting 90 sec between sets  rest 60 sec. or 45 sec. so you´ll be doing the same amount of work in less time and this requires your body to become more efficient.

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Pam

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