Here’s something the pops up every now and then when I get asked questions around Training,
Let’s say you’re training for 6-8 Months now, or most people say “I go the gym 5 times a week”,
While this is brilliant because you’re fundamentally DOING the most important variable when it comes to training (Adherence and actually doing the work) BUT, why don’t you have anything really to show for it?
You’ve made some progress, but nothing like you could if you had the proper tools and knowledge to do so – I.E: A properly structured program that you progress on.
Which if I’m honest, a lot of people go through, myself included all those years back 🙈
Which results in an Ego-Trip for a few Months because Lads are too stubborn to ask for help – but still fool themselves into thinking they’re doing fine,
Similar to this Lad 😂
Anyhow, this Blog you WON’T show you ‘how to gain 10 lbs of muscle in a week’ or any of that Jazz, if you still believe in that, you’d be better off exiting this blog now, or reading on to learn why 😉
See I want to lay down what you NEED to know first before you go any further in the quest for packing on some quality Muscle Tissue, so in this blog I want to open your eyes too;
1: One of the Most Important Factors for Muscle & Strength Gains that most people completely miss in their Training,
2: How you can then put that to use in your training,
THE OVERLOAD PRINCIPLE
Your body just does not like change & it’ll fight tooth & nail to go against you,
It wants to stay in Homeostasis which is a fancy of way of saying; staying the same.
So in order for us to adapt and change we NEED to stress the body & force it to adapt for Strength and/or Muscle Gains.
This is stress that’s planned, for example (lifting weights), or if you like, ‘Good’ stress, but with adequate recovery time so you can continue to progress week by week.
I won’t get into the ‘recovery’ side just yet but what I’m getting at here is called PROGRESSIVE OVERLOAD. (Planned Stress)
The principle of ‘doing more’ over time.
Think of it like this…
If you take a boat out to water with little more than a frame of the boat, you won’t get very far will you?
But when you go home, re-build that boat a little bit more to add more cover for the frame to keep the water out, well next time you might make it a little further.
Then you go home again, re-build again and add more ‘cover’ to the boat frame, until over time you’re travelling longer and longer distances in the water.
Now here’s a nice little boat picture I did to drive that analogy home;
Or picture it like this;
So for you to improve Performance, Get Stronger &/or Build muscle Tissue, the Overload principle is paramount to that;
- You go to Gym & Resistance Train
- This places stress on your body
- Go home, recover & RE-BUILD for your next session/week of training.
- Go back to gym, lift more than last time. (Progressive overload)
See, if you’re not sufficiently overloading your muscles regularly (weekly for example), your giving your body ZERO reason to adapt, develop and change.
LOOK AT THE BIGGER PICTURE
So as the months progress, you’re getting better in the gym. Lifting more weights & producing more force in your lifts etc.
These things called ‘contractile’ proteins which are made up of Actin & Myosin inside your muscle tissue, is what Muscle Growth is achieved by.
So to get Stronger & Bigger over time, we need to increase the size of these & add more. Again coming back to progressive overload & why I highlighted ‘RE-BUILD’ above… Here’s a little picture of these contractile proteins;
Plus, I got this little Gem from Brad Schoenfield – think of it like ‘Sardines in a can all in a parallel tight-knit fashion, the more you add, the bigger they’ll get.’
So not rocket science is it? You need to progressively do more over time. And especially when starting off, even if you get this right, you’ll progress very well in your first 6 or so Months.
SO HOW DO YOU CREATE OVERLOAD?
Without going into the specifics of a Training Programme, I want to show you the Macro level stuff first in terms of HOW you actually create progressive overload,
It’s fairly easy really and here’s a simple graph to understand some progression methods;
So are you doing any of the above?
If you’re not progressing session by session or weekly in some form or another, you’re not giving your body any reason to adapt, change & grow for future training sessions,
I.E: Let’s say you Squat 3×8 @70kilos in the Squat and do another Leg Movement after,
You’re sore for a couple of Days and then you’re next lower body session day comes and you Squat 3×8 @70kilos again – but this time it was a little bit easier, you felt you could probably bang out another quality rep or two. And that’s perfectly fine, you’ve made the ‘intensity’ of the exercise easier because you are Stronger now, that’s still progression.
If you come in the next day and Squat 3×8 @70kilos again, WTF are you doing? You’re NOT going to progress like that going forward.
Again, just remember the overload principle, you need to do more over time. Especially when starting out or if you’re a year under proper resistance training. You just need to spend time lifting & progressing.
IT AIN’T AS EASY AS THAT
Here’s where I just want to make you ‘aware’ going forward, and I’ll address this in the future blogs leading from this series too,
It’s NOT always the case of just doing more over time, at the start it is, long-term it’s not – If that was the way, then we’d all be walking around Ronnie Coleman. (If you don’t know who he is, just google him 😉)
It’s the same with the ‘Calf to Cow story’ of Milo of Croton – an ancient Greek Wrestler that lifted a calf everyday so when he grow up, he could lift the cow.
– Milo starts to lift a calf when he’s born
– Continues to lift it as the calf grows
– Stays lifting the calf till it’s a big-ass cow over 1000lbs (Progressive Overload)
– Milo get’s huge & crazy strong
And is there a heap of us walking around like Milo? You can decide with that one.
Short and Sweet of it is, there will come a time where you’ll have to factor in back-off periods and a 3 steps forward, 2 steps back kind of approach to keep progressing in your training so be aware that’s it’s not all just about overload, overload, overload. But as I said, that’s the topic for future blogs.
Thanks for reading this far if you did, I forgot how much I love writing these blogs so hopefully this series will stay consistent.
But your main takeaway is: Are you adhering to the Overload Principle? If not, start.
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