While this may sound a bit intimidating, it is the essential concept for muscle growth and the improvement of physical abilities in any training.
Progressive overload, or also called muscle overload, is a very simple concept.
That is why today I will explain everything I can about the “LA” muscle development technique par excellence and from which all the others we have already seen the start.
DEFINITION OF PROGRESSIVE MUSCLE OVERLOAD
The principle of progressive overload states that the adaptation of the body system does not occur without an overload stimulus. And muscles experience overload when they are exposed to a stimulus greater than usual.
Going to extremes, we can affirm that physical activity below the usual level causes detraining while continuing to train under the same variables always generates a STALEMATE.
In summary, this training principle involves continually increasing the demands of the musculoskeletal system to obtain continuous gains in muscle size, strength, and endurance.
Simply put, for you to become bigger and stronger, you must make your muscles work continuously more than they used to in previous sessions.
In most cases, that means increasing resistance or load, but as will be seen later, there are other methods to carry out the process of progressive overload.
PROGRESSIVE OVERLOAD IS THE BASES OF TRAINING
Let’s look at an example: If you have to lift the same weight for two years, you probably won’t see any important results. You will only maintain your current muscle shape and size, but there will not be any noticeable muscle development.
Why? Because now you know that your body will not need to grow, because it is already capable of lifting the weight you are lifting, simple, right?
But when the body is stressed in a way that it is little accustomed to (in this case with a progressive overload with weights), the body will react generating physiological changes(adaptation) to be able to handle stress in a better way The next time this happens.
To put it another way, your body will not change or improve unless you force it to do so. The human body must be forced to adapt to a tension that is above and beyond what has been previously experienced.
THE CONCEPT OF PROGRESSIVE OVERLOAD IS THE BASE OF ALL SPORTS TRAININGS
As I said before, the principle of progressive overload does not apply only to weightlifting to increase muscle growth and strength.
It is also the basis and is carried out, in different CARDIOVASCULAR TRAINING programs, creating physiological changes that affect aerobic metabolism and the cardiorespiratory system.
It even helps us if we want to perform a routine of increasing flexibility with stretching exercises.
All sports benefit from this training technique, through a PERIODIZATION process of STRATEGICALLY ORGANIZED TRAINING.
HOW TO CARRY OUT THE PROGRESSIVE OVERLOAD TECHNIQUE?
There are different techniques that we can apply to our routines to carry out muscle overload.
1. INCREASING THE RESISTANCE
Probably the most obvious way to increase the resistance you impose on your muscles is to increase the load or weight.
If training with 20 kilos is too easy, try to gain 2.5 kilos more on each side of the bar, that should be more challenging!
Remember that there is an inverse relationship between the load and the repetitions, so when you increase the weight, your repetitions will fall to a certain extent.
This is fine, and it should be done like this; very soon you will strengthen yourself with that resistance and you will be able to repeat the weight gain cycle.
2. INCREASING REPETITIONS
You don’t necessarily have to add more weight; As you get stronger, you can simply do more repetitions, which is considered another means of increasing overload.
Even in certain weight training techniques (when training muscle failure), you don’t stop an exercise when you reach a predetermined repetition number; continue until you cannot repeat without losing the technique of executing the exercise.
You can even try to do additional repetitions through advanced training techniques.
3. INCREASING THE VOLUME
This variable is another way to increase the overhead. Increasing the volume consists of adding more series to your routine, either by doing other exercises or by adding a new series for your existing exercises.
That means doing 4 sets instead of 3 for all the exercises in your routine or adding another exercise keeping all 3 sets for everyone.
4. INCREASING TRAINING FREQUENCY
Like volume, increasing the frequency with which you train a muscle group can increase overload.
This technique works particularly well when targeting a lagging or weak body part.
The traditional approach to training a muscle group is once in the course of the minimum training or microcycle division, but training it a little more often can help you not fall behind the development of other areas.
Mind you, be careful with overtraining in these cases.
5. DECREASING THE REST TIME BETWEEN SERIES
There is one more way to increase overload: and it is by reducing the rest interval between sets.
In this case, we will do the same amount of work but in less time.
This mechanism requires that your body be more metabolically efficient, at least concerning anaerobic exercise (as in the case of weightlifting or some athletic disciplines).
TAKE YOUR TRAINING TO THE NEXT LEVEL
While there are different methods to perform the progressive overload technique, you should generally try to implement one method at a time.
For example, if you increase the weight, you will not be able to increase the repetitions without increasing the potential appearance of some type of injury. While it is good to use a variety of different strategies, it is not beneficial to use them at the same time.
It is also important to know that progressive overload is also not a stable linear concept.
For example, increasing your weight by 5 kilos might work for you when you are not lifting a lot of weight, but that number will be reduced over time. There will come a time that adding 1 or 2 kilos to your exercise will be an achievement.
Also, progressive overload is applied differently to different individuals.
Some strategies will work better for some people, and not so much for others. You must try different strategies and evaluate them with your training objectives to see what works best for you.
Also, you should keep in mind that increasing certain factors such as total volume will be very good for a bodybuilder for example.
While reducing rest time between sets and increasing repetitions may be more beneficial for endurance athletes or individuals concerned with muscular endurance and cardiovascular capacity.
In summary? The techniques you use should be in alignment with your fitness goals. Prioritize only what is important to you.