This post may sound basic, but it is essential to know!
When making your client's workout programs, the number 1 thing you will be utilizing is progressive overload. The simplest definition is this: progressing with a gradual increase of stress upon the body. . We will use the barbell squat as an example throughout this post. Progressive overload is a combination of overload and progression:
Overload: applying increased load on muscle tissue/cardiovascular system beyond which it was normally loaded. There are many ways to do this, the most obvious being adding more weight on an exercise (barbell squat) than from what you did last time. You could ALSO use overload by:
- Form - This is the most important, and it's common sense to train in the correct posture. If a client is barbell squatting 45lb 3x10, and does the next week with 45lb 3x10 but with better form, that can be considered overload. Form is critical to know first.
- Range of motion (doing half squats vs full squats)
- Tempo (Squatting slower vs faster, 2 second eccentric phase vs 5 second eccentric phase)
- Volume (# of reps, # of sets - doing 3x8 the first week then 3x12 the week after)
- Lifting heavier (this plays into intensity in the FITT Principle, increasing 1RM)
- Rest times (3x10 with a 90 second rest, then 3x10 with a 45-60 second rest)
- Bodyweight (This basically means if a client were to be squatting 135 at 150 pounds at 3x10 for 4 weeks, but is losing weight over the 4 weeks - strength/bodyweight)
- Going to/passed failure (We've all heard of dropsets, negatives, post exhaustion)
- Exercise Modification (Grips, Low bar vs high bar squatting, different emphasis on working muscles)
- Frequency (This plays a little into volume, but basically what I mean is doing squats twice a week instead of once)
Some other things to know:
-Form. I cannot stress this enough in this post. If you're squatting 135 for 5 reps with perfect form, then next week you let your ego take control and do 185x3x5 with poor form (half squats), that doesn't really count. If I can curl 50 pounds for a set of 10, then try 75 pounds for a set of 10 but I'm swinging the bar and using momentum to help me, it doesn't count. To really know if you or your client gained strength, you need to do each exercise the exact same way you did it last time.
-Beginners progress rapidly in the first 12-16 weeks, as long as they're staying consistent. -Progressive overload can be random at times. There's been numerous times where my diet is perfect, sleeping patterns are perfect, and my progress is stalling. One time I'd get 3-4 hours of sleep and poor nutrition the prior day, and hit a personal record the next day. It's weird.
-Increased stresses placed on the body must be done gradually. Do not try to jump into things to
fast, there is a risk for injury and overtraining with that.
My question to you is: in which ways have you been utilizing progressive overload for you and your clients? Share in the comments!