Progressive Overload Principle application Part II

Posted: October 22, 2015 in Strength and Conditioning for Health and Fitness
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These old fixed barbells come in different weights for a reason. The user is taught a particular exercise using a lighter barbell. He then progresses to using heavier ones as he/she develops strength and proficiency.

A few weeks ago, you made a decision to improve your life. Not in a very dramatic way. It is more in a subtle but positive way. You are now maintaining a healthy exercise habit and you feel it is easier already. You like it, and now you want to become better in what you do. Its time to progress to training. You are looking for a chart that you can follow. There are many complicated charts used by weightlifters who have trained most of their life in their sport. If you are a new lifter or will still start to train with weights, you do not need those complicated tables. They were designed to be used by seasoned lifters whose abilities are well beyond that of Mr. Newbie. They are not applicable to you since your ability to tolerate the volume and intensity is not yet developed, but with patience and persistence, you will be able to improve. The good thing is that during the first year, your progress would be relatively very fast. The best way is to take advantage of this is not to try to train like the world champions, but train appropriately and intelligently. What we should do is to understand the basic overload principle then gradually expound as you progress towards your goal. Understand and apply the basic principles so that you can later adapt it to your situation. Here is an example which may be applicable to most individuals and is flexible enough to be adjusted for your own goals:

Example: General goal is to improve health by improving cardiovascular fitness. You started with jogging, now you want to progress and be able to run faster. You can do this by improving leg strength. Mode is weight training using the squat as primary exercise.

Squat: Week 1 Set 1 Set 2 Set 3 Set 4 Set 5
Tuesday BW x 10 reps 10-15kg x 8 reps 15-20kg x 8 reps 15-20kg x 8 reps 15-20kg x 8 reps
Thursday BW x 10 reps 10-15kg x 8 reps 17.5-22.5kg x 8 reps 17.5-22.5kg x 8 reps 17.5-22.5kg x 8 reps

BW means body weight. You are not using any equipment except your body. The first two sets are warm-up sets. Set 3 to 5 are the actual working sets. You may adjust the weight to that which you can safely handle. The idea is to lift a load that you can control yet it challenges you. Rest period is 1 to 2 minutes in between sets.

Week 2 Set 1 Set 2 Set 3 Set 4 Set 5
Tuesday 10-15kg x 8 reps 15-20kg x 8 reps 17.5-22.5kg x 8 reps 17.5-22.5kg x 8 reps 17.5-22.5kg x 8 reps
Thursday 10-15kg x 8 reps 17.5-22.5kg x 8 reps 22.5kg-25kg x 8 reps 22.5kg-25kg x 8 reps 22.5kg-25kg x 8 reps
Week 3
Tuesday Light x 8 reps Moderate x 8 reps Heavy x 8 reps Heavy x 8 reps Heavy x 8 reps
Thursday Light x 8 reps Moderate x 8 reps Heavy x 8 reps Heavy x 8 reps Heavy x 8 reps
Week 4 If everything is going well, you can add 3-5 kg on set 3 to 5 for week 4 as compared to week 3.
Tuesday Light x 8 reps Moderate x 8 reps Heavy x 8 reps Heavy x 8 reps Heavy x 8 reps
Thursday Light x 8 reps Moderate x 8 reps Heavy x 8 reps Heavy x 8 reps Heavy x 8 reps
Week 5 If everything is going well, you can add 3-5 kg on set 3 to 5 for week 5 as compared to week 4 but do lighter load on Thursday.
Tuesday Light x 8 reps Moderate x 8 reps Heavy x 8 reps Heavy x 8 reps Heavy x 8 reps
Thursday Light x 8 reps Moderate x 8 reps Moderate x 8 reps Moderate x 8 reps Moderate x 8 reps
Week 6 Do lighter load on Tuesday.  Do heavier load x 5 reps this Thursday. It should be the heaviest load for the entire 6 weeks
Tuesday Light x 8 reps Moderate x 8 reps Moderate x 8 reps Moderate x 8 reps Moderate x 8 reps
Thursday Light x 8 reps Moderate x 8 reps Quite heavy x 5 reps Quite heavy x 5 reps Quite heavy x 5 reps

You may be asking, “Why only squat?” The above is only a sample template. You can add other exercises as well but better start with something short but would be implemented. If you can do it for a few weeks then by all means you should progress. (see future posts). The squat is the example used since it involves a lot of joints, and it has a lot of carry over to function. A heavy squat also stimulates the release of more testosterone which in turn would help in overall muscular development. The biceps curl involves only one joint and has a lot less muscle involvement compared to the squat. Training should be done with good and useful goals in mind. Train with function in mind and not only aesthetics. Aesthetics will surely follow after you train for function. That is training intelligently.

This program can also be added with the general conditioning (Click here for previous post) depending on one’s goal and ability to recover. They serve as examples on how the progressive overload principle is used. It should be gradual, done consistently, and done long enough to be able to elicit change. Train Better!, Live Better!

Val Ramos Jr.

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