Archive for the tag - overload

Overload Vs. Fatigue.

Overload Vs. Fatigue: What's the difference?

Anyone looking to increase their muscle mass should be familiar with the term progressive overload.

Developed by Thomas Delorme, M.D. to help rehabilitating World War II soldiers, progressive overload is the the gradual increase of stress placed on the body during exercise training. It’s based on the brilliantly simple but scientifically-proven concept that muscles won’t grow unless they’re forced to do so – and progressively overloading your muscles is the most effective way to do just that; it’s a technique that body builders have been using for decades.

There are a number of ways to progressively overload a muscle during exercise, but the most common is adding additional resistance. If you’re new to working out, you may be able to increase the amount of resistance or weight that you’re working with by 5 – 10%. For seasoned gym-goers, 2% – 5% may be more realistic.

For example, you may typically do 3 sets of 8 repetitions of biceps curls with 50 pound weights. You’re progressively overloading your muscles if you reach for the 52.5 or 55 pound dumbbells instead. You may not be able to do each set of 8 repetitions initially, but over time you’ll be able to build back up – and then reach for heavier weights yet again.

Overload is sometimes confused with fatigue.

Fatigue is when your muscles are tired. Certainly, overloading your muscles will lead to fatigue – but they’re not one in the same; there are any number of ways to fatigue your muscles. For example, doing a huge number of bicep curls with a light weight will eventually fatigue your muscles. And it may even result in some small gains in mass, but it’s certainly not the most effective technique for muscle growth.

The problem is that many people leave the gym with fatigued muscles – and thus assume that their workout is effective in achieving their muscle mass goals. Unfortunately, this isn’t true. Fatigued muscles aren’t so important as the process by which they became fatigued. For efficient and effective muscle gains, overloading is a great long-term strategy.

What is Progressive Overload?

Many fitness enthusiasts are fairly committed to the gym and working out, but often perform the same routines with the same weights over and over again. They don’t see any changes in their bodies or increases in strength, and often excuse their lack of results with the mistaken belief that it takes many years to see any real changes.

As it turns out, the human body doesn’t change unless it is forced to do so. If your body doesn’t need to adapt by getting bigger or stronger, then it won’t.

Enter a concept known as progressive overload. Developed by Thomas Delorme, M.D. to help rehabilitating World War II soldiers, progressive overload is the the gradual increase of stress placed on the body during exercise training.

The concept is beautifully simply and scientifically proven: In order for a muscle to grow, it must be overloaded. Doing so activates the natural adaptive processes of the human body, which develops to cope with the new demands placed on it. In addition to stronger and larger muscles, stronger and denser bones, ligaments, tendons and cartilage are all resulted through progressive overloads.

There are 7 techniques to incorporate progressive overloads into your workout:

  1. Increase resistance. This means lifting more weight. If you normally do 8 repetitions, but are now able to do 9, it may be time to increase the weight. If you are new to working out, you may be able to increase weight by 5% – 10%. If you are more advanced, 2% – 5% may be more appropriate.
  2. Increase repetitions. If you normally do 6 repetitions of an exercise, try for the 7th rep. Once you can do the 7th rep, try for the 8th.
  3. Increase the sets. If you normally do 2 sets, try for a 3rd set. While the first set will get you a majority of the results and benefits, there are some additional benefits that can be yielded from additional sets. I generally don’t do more than 4 sets.
  4. Increase frequency. If you train your legs every 10 days, perhaps you can train them more often. It’s generally unwise to train a muscle that is still sore from a previous workout, but there may be an opportunity to hit certain muscle groups – especially those that are lagging – more frequently.
  5. Increase intensity and effort. Instead of going through your workout like a zombie, really crank up the effort. Sometimes working with a good partner or trainer can be a big help. Push yourself – or find someone that can do the pushing for you!
  6. Increase exercises. Maybe you do 3 different exercises for your biceps, or any other muscle group. Try introducing a 4th or 5th exercise to yield increased results.
  7. Decrease rest time. By doing more exercises in the same amount of time, your body will have to work harder and more efficiently.

You’ll need to map these 7 techniques to your exercise goals. For example, increasing the resistance is great for people that want larger muscles. Increasing the repetitions or decreasing rest time may be better suited for people that want increased definition or endurance training.

Whatever your goals, make this powerful time-tested technique work for you.