WTF is Progressive Overload? And why you NEED to understand it!
A fundamental thing you need to understand if you are training for anything… that’s what Progressive Overload is!!
Now do any of you know the story about a dude and a bull?… (yeah that could go too many directions so just let me explain)
Milo of Croton? Greek wrestler? ANY OF THIS RINGING A BELL?
Well this dude Milo was a wrestler in ancient Greece. He was known for the legendary amount of food he consumed and his ability to wrestle.
Milo was most known for carrying a young bull up a hill EVERY DAY.
As this bull gradually got bigger, Milo’s body needed to adapt to the changing weight so in return, he got stronger.
Over the next four years, every day he carried that thing up that hill until it was fully grown.
Milo now had the strength to carry a FULL GROWN BULL up a big ass hill!!!
Why is this important? Well it’s where the “law of progressive overload” comes in.
Consistently adding more stressors into your training, such as adding 1 pound of meat onto a bison and carrying it up a hill every day, causes your body to have to “adapt” to the new stress, sending hormones and yatta yatta to places in your body causing it to grow more muscle, become more stable, yatta yatta.
This is the EXACT same thing that happens in YOUR training environment.
It’s why we mindlessly add more weight to the bar than we had on last week.
Do more reps, add more workouts, increase intensity… ALL of these things are stressors to your environment, which cause your body to ADAPT and CHANGE.
Now there is a cap to this phenom, you can’t add 1 pound onto your squat every day and then squat 365 pounds more at the end of the year…
These “fall-off points” are your plateaus and it’s right around there that you need to change your stressors.
A very basic and traditional method to mimic would be something like.
Month #1 - My workout - no changes, just getting your body used to doing something consistent for once in your damn life, stop trying to change your routine after the first week, seriously, just be consistent.
Month #2 - My workout x Stressor #1 - Stressor #1 would be increasing reps, intensity, subtracting your rest time, but don’t CHANGE your workout just yet! Keep the same exercises going and just up the intensity.
Month #3 - My NEW Workout - By this time your body has become so accustomed to the movements you have been doing that they are no longer a challenge but you have already increased the rep cap and intensity to a point where you aren’t seeing change anymore. In this phase, change your routine completely adding new movements, learning new things and basically “starting over” but you’re not because you have all the strength you gained from the first 2 months.
Month #4 - My NEW Workout x Stressor #1 - Yep you guessed it! Increase the intensity, rep count, weight, BUT, you may add some of the workouts from Workout #1 into your routine to change things up a bit but don’t change it completely.
Month #5 - Wooohoooo… Kinda… Now combine various workouts, new workouts and workouts from your first 2 months and mess around with the intensity.
Month #6 - Just challenge your body more and more by changing the stress factors in the workouts you are doing.
Now this plan is pretty vague but it is straight and to the point of how a basic structure of how your routine should look like when applying the most fundamental principle in training, The Law of Progressive Overload.
At least now you have a grasp of WTF this concept is and how to apply it to your life.
Knowledge is like having a bunch of cool Pokemon cards, go show it off to your friends and act like you know way more than them!!
Most of all, have fun with what you are doing.