Thursday, September 30, 2010

Progressive Overload

In order to make substantial gains in your program it is important to constantly progress. The progressive overload principle is simply, increasing the intensity of an exercise over a period of time. If you continue to perform the same exercise with the same amount of weight and reps, chances are you will no longer stimulate the muscle. In order to develop muscle tissue you must invoke enough stimulation to the muscle cells to be overloaded. The overloading forces a breakdown of the cellular machinery. During proper recovery and repair the cells are re-established and re-synthesized. The end result is more cells are ready for the next exercise session. In order to keep this cycle of regrowth to occur it is important to produce the correct amount of overload each workout. There are different ways to increase the overload.

1. increase the weight. This is obvious. By increasing the amount of weight you instantly increase the intensity and workload of the muscle. However, this progressive overload technique can only go so far. You will find that you won't always be able to increase the weight for a given exercise. Eventually you will hit a plateau and won't be able to add anymore weight.

2. Increase or decrease the rep count. By changing the number of reps you change the intensity. Performing higher reps will produce a greater cardiovascular effect on the muscle metabolism. This will challenge the muscle differently than performing lower reps. There is a bit more oxygen demand when performing higher reps. Performing fewer reps uses less oxygen and can allow the muscle to work at a higher weight load. If you have been training using the low rep system, you can drop the weight and perform higher reps for awhile. This will stimulate new growth and stimulation. If you have performing higher reps, drop the rep count and add more weight to the bar.

3. Shorten your rest period. This progressive overload technique is a good one to do if you are looking to get a little more out of your workout, of which you haven't hit a plateau with yet. The goal here is to try and complete your workout faster each time by taking few rests. Take just enough breaths to get your heart rate down, then get right back to the action. You will be amazed at the pump you get from imploying this technique. It also helps you stay more focused during your workout.

4. Change the speed of the reps. If you are lifting at a place that doesn't have many weights and you can't increase weight, try changing the speed of the exercise. You can get an incredible pump by going slow. You can also go fast, with good form of course, through a rep cycle. Sprinters develop huge muscles from fast explosive movements. Muscle can be developed in this manner using weights as well. Go fast like a sprinter when you do squats and you will get a great pump. This is a bit more advanced and is not recommended for upstarts. Also, you want to avoid locking the knees. Avoid compressive forces on the knees. You can vary the speed of the reps per different sets of the methodic. You want to constantly invoke change to the muscles.

So there you have a few progressive overload techniques to use. The key is to always strive to progress through the exercise program that you are currently on. Each week should be more intense than the previous week. You should never have the exact same workout system each week. Push yourself into new heights by progressive overload. Remember, the workout shouldn't be easy. If it feels good than you are not working out hard enough. You mine as well go back to bed. I gotta have more!!!!

Now get out there and train with some intensity!

tags: progressive overload, intensity,diet EARTH, Daryl Conant, Ron Kosloff, Vince Gironda


  1. Daryl,
    Ive been supplementing my leg workouts with sprints 3 times a week. Ive certainly noticed that my speed has increased as well as my hamstring strength. Are jump squats capable of stimulating increased fast-twitch muscle fiber growth in the legs? Are these even worth doing?

  2. Yes! jump squats are great for increasing the contractile speed and force of fast twitch fibers. Keep the schedule you have designed. It is working. Always do what works.