News No Comments 1 February 2018

THE PROGRESSIVE OVERLOAD PRINCIPLE

Contrary to what is normally thought, progressive overload is quite important to progress in the gym as well as maintain your current state of fitness, but before talking about it in detail, let's take a step backwards and understand what it is.

As already stated in another article I wrote for this blog, adapting goes through the G.A.S. principle. If a stimulus is excessive or too weak, it will cause no adapting or even cause a regression. Our body can adapt to stimuli very easily, balancing at the start and overbalancing later on. It is understandable that the same stimulus repeated over time will be felt as easier and easier, until it is insufficient.
To maintain or improve our fitness it is therefore necessary to give the body a growing stimulus and avoid this kind of unproductive adapting. This is the progressive overload principle.

But then, must I always increase the kilos?

Obviously not. The load is one of the training variables. No variable can be increased ad infinitum, whether it is volume, intensity, frequency or density. From here the periodization principle. Periodizing means planning cyclic periods where some variables will be increased and some others decreased, in a kind of dynamic balance capable of preventing or anyway postponing the stall. It seems a banal concept but, reading the various questions I receive every day via email or chat, I realize it is not banal at all. Let's take training volume as an example. Week 1 I do 4 series, week 2 I do 5, week 3 I do 6 ... how many do I do in a month? In two? In a year?
The same goes for training frequency ... from 3 I go to 4, then 5, 6 and 7.
Double daily splits after that? The same applies to any variable. All this without taking into consideration that a "heavy" work period must be followed by a "light" one to give the body time to superbalance. Working on just one variable is like having a toolbox and using always the same worn screwdriver.

How many variables are there? Let's discover them together.

After explaining the principle at the basis of fitness, let's see the variables we can work with:

REAL INTENSITY: It is the quantity of external load applied in relation to our ceiling (1RM).

PERCEIVED INTENSITY: This is the so-called internal load, that is the perception the body has of the effort made. Protracted series to failure, use of intensifying techniques, prolonged TUTs, isometric breaks, etc. are all effective methods to increase the internal load.

VOLUME: Very simply, this the QUANTITY of work done. It is calculated by muscle group (or sometimes by lift), multiplying the number of series by the number of repetitions.

TONNAGE: It is again establishing the QUANTITY of work, but more precisely this time. We will multiply the number of series by the number of repetitions by the load applied. The value obtained represents the quantity of Kgs handled.

DENSITY: This variable acts on the perceived intensity and is represented by the volume of the work done in the unit of time. In short, it shows how concentrated (or diluted) our session is.

ABSOLUTE FREQUENCY: Number of times we go to the gym

FREQUENCY RELATIVE TO A MUSCLE OR LIFT: It indicates the frequency with which a muscle (or a lift) is trained within a week.


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