Training Principles – Progressive Overload

The key principle to training, if improvement of any kind is desired, is that of progressive overload.

To develop, whether it be in strength, endurance, flexibility or muscle tone, some aspect of training must gradually be advanced in order to overload the body so that it then adapts to cope with the new demand placed on it.

Let’s say you can consistently complete 3 sets of 20 push-ups with 30 seconds of rest between sets. If you don’t change a variable (sets, reps, resistance or rest time), you won’t get any better than that because without overload there is no stimulus placed on the body to adapt to.

It’s very common to see people doing the same thing in their exercise over the course of weeks, months and even years. And that’s fine if the only goal is maintenance of current fitness and strength levels, and ideal body composition has been achieved. If your goal is to improve and progress, however, then your training programme must reflect this. This doesn’t mean doing more in every single workout, and that’s especially true the more advanced that you are, but over a period of weeks and months, a way forward must be planned.

One more rep, one more second or one more kilogram is enough to place a demand on the body that wasn’t there previously. This progression will force your body to adapt, and applied consistently over time, this principle is the key to achieving your goals.

Achieving goals can therefore be reframed as reaching the level of adaptation desired as a result of the demand of overload placed on the body through training.

Slowly, surely, let’s get better!