Our bodies are created to adapt to various conditions including the stress of exercise. In order to change our bodies must be forced to adapt to stress that is above and beyond what it has previously experienced. In other words we need to challenge our bodies so that we can continue to see change and improvements even as our bodies make adaptations to meet new demands. These changes, improvements, and adaptations result in more muscle, more strength, less fat, better tone, better performance and overall gains.
A technique that can help us achieve all this is called progressive overload. Progressive overload is the gradual increase of stress placed upon the body during exercise training. The technique is recognized as a fundamental principle for success in various forms of exercise as well as physical therapy. Progressive overload requires a gradual increase in volume, resistance, intensity, frequency or time in order to achieve a targeted goal. Therefore, to benefit from this you may want to increase your repetitions, from 8 to 12 or sets from 3 to 4… you can even do both as well as increase the weight used. Furthermore, you can increase distance or speed or both when it comes to cardio. The idea is to gradually give your body more work than it has adapted to and to continually increase the work after reaching adaptation.
This technique results in progressive fat loss as well as gains in physical strength and muscular growth. However, keep in mind that excessive training stimuli can lead to the problem of overtraining. Overtraining is the decline in training performance over the course of a training program, often increasing the risk of illness or injury or decreased desire to exercise. In order to avoid this problem, the technique of periodization is recommended. Periodization in the context of fitness means scheduling a program that makes provision for adequate recovery between training sessions. It also includes the infusion of variety over the course of a long-term program to avoid monotony while ensuring continued interest and motivation.
Here is a quick recap:
The lesson to be learnt here is this: If you increase the work your body has to do your body will be forced to change or improve/adapt to meet its new challenge and the will result will be a toned healthy body. The Progressive overload technique may just be the thing you need to push yourself to the next level…Try it!
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