Principle Two: Progression
Progression is the improvement of a given training variable over over a period of time.
The training variables are the ones explained in our previous blog post. So tempo, weights, rep, sets, etc, you should always be trying to progress and increase those variables over over the course of a program.
For example, if you only ever do 15 pound dumbbells for 10 reps every Monday for the next 10 years of your life, what are your expectations? Do you expect to change at all?
No, your body's going to get used to that load. So it's not going to change, it's not going to produce adaptations to that.
That's how your body is going to make those long lasting changes.
How do I progress?
The reality is, you need to be increasing something, to progress further. When it comes to training specifically, in order to get those noticeable results, you need to improve on some of the variables that we've touched on.
- Improve running pace by 5-10 seconds each month
- Increase sets and reps with given equipment each week to improve muscular endurance.
Here is an example of progressive overload in a weight training program:
Week 1: barbell squat 85lbs – 3 sets – 8 reps
Week 2: barbell squat 85lbs – 3 sets – 10 reps
Week 3: barbell squat 85lbs – 3 sets – 12 reps
Week 1: bench press 100lbs – 3 sets – 5 reps
Week 2: bench press 105lbs – 3 sets- 5 reps
Week 3: bench press 110lbs – 3 sets – 5 reps
If you are always doing the same weights and rep zones you are very likely to plateau or not progress further in your training. This method guarantees that you are challenging yourself and forces the muscles to grow and get stronger.
Progressive overload is not limited to muscle and strength training. It can also be used during endurance and cardiovascular training.
For progressive overload to be effective, your exercise form should be perfected first. Increasing the intensity or volume from week to week with bad form will negatively impact your training and may lead to injury.
I need to increase weights every single session
You increase the "load" incrementally as your body improves.
If you NEVER attempt to increase difficulty you WILL stay the same.