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Progressive Overload
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Progressive Overload

When it comes to training there is one principle responsible for all great results - Progressive Overload. This technique is recognised as the foundation to continually move your training forward and if used correctly can be the key to unlock your true potential in any form of training.

What is Progressive Overload?

The concept was first devised by Dr. Vladimir Zatslorsky and Dr John Cimbala and is the gradual increase of stress on the body through physical activity. By consistently challenging your body with more than it is used to you will initiate physiological change in the form of greater strength, power and speed just to name a few.

Overloading your body through exercise stimulates a natural healing process, which forces your body to overcompensate whilst regenerating. As a safety mechanism your body rebuilds the worked areas to become bigger, stronger and faster than they were before; so that if faced with the same challenge it will not stress the body as much.

To ensure optimal results you must be aware that your body will develop more since your last workout. So you must endeavour to accommodate this change by overloading it with more than the last session. Although, you must also be wary not to increase the loads too quickly or you will not allow your body to keep up with your progress. This may cause you to develop faulty lifting patterns and set you up for injuries in the future.

Even know the concept of progressive overload has only recently been studied, the results have been around for as long as man has walked the Earth. One of the most famous and powerful examples of Progressive Overload comes from 6th Century BC. Milo of Croton, was said to have been able to carry a full grown bull on his shoulders. This feat of strength was attributed to him starting as a child and carrying a newborn calf. He repeated this feat each and every day until the animal grew to full maturity.

By progressing slowly and steadily Milo was able to pick up an animal many times his own body weight. It's not hard to see that if you learn how to progress the right way then anything may be possible!

How to use progressive overload: the 7 keys to unlock powerful results

1. Increase Resistance

Up the weight you are lifting with each workout as you progressively get stronger. As a rule, don't increase more than 10 percent per week.

2. Increase Your Reps

By increasing your repetitions you will ensure that your muscles are Under Tension for longer during each workout. This is a key component to muscle growth. Although it must be noted that performing too many repetitions; such as 15 or more per set; may hinder muscle growth and strength but will benefit substantially if training for muscular endurance.

3. Increase Your Sets

Again, you will increase your total Time Under Tension for your workout but this way you may stay within your desired rep range by adding sets instead of reps.

4. Increase the Number of Exercises

Add more exercises to help fatigue a certain muscle group or to help expend more energy for your overall workout.? This is a sure fire way to uncover the 6 pack that's been hiding under that winter coat.

5. Increase Frequency

If you have been doing only two Resistance Sessions per week then it may be time to step it up to 3 or more. Please note that ample recovery time is needed for your body to receive all the fruits of its labour. By doing too much with not enough rest you will start to over train. Be extra careful when it comes to resistance training, each muscle group needs at least 48-72hrs before it is trained again.

6. Be Progressive with Your Exercises

For example if you have been doing a Machine Chest Press, then upscale it to a Barbell Bench Press then to Dumbbells then to Cables. The more Motor Control needed the better but only progress when you have mastered each step.

Your body will thrive on the challenge of figuring out new movement patterns. Both your skeletomuscular and neuromuscular systems will develop higher levels of function and efficiency and great results will follow.

7. Decrease Your Rest Time

By decreasing rest breaks between exercises you ensure your body is working at a greater intensity and you give yourself the chance to do more in each session. This is perfect for burning body fat.

By using the 7 keys to Progressively Overload your body you will be able to improve any area of fitness that you desire.? Although, it is important that you know the consequences of the key that you choose before you do, as you may unlock the wrong door. For example if muscle gain is high on the priority list and you overload your body with a mode that will aide in weight loss then you may be disappointed with the results.? So research your next move or speak with an exercise professional to find out the most effective way of unlocking the results you desire...

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