In the last post I wrote about how important warming-up is for performance and to avoid injuries. Today I’ll write about the next important exercise principle to get results, and that is overload.

If you always do what you’ve always done, you’ll always get what you always got. Without progressive overload there will be no long-term adaption to the exercise you are performing. Unless you expose your body to increasing degrees of exercise difficulty, you won’t get any fitter. It could be argued that overload is the most important of the training variables.

If you do the same workout week after week and month after month, your body will only get as strong and fit as the workout you’re performing demands. Failure to increase the amount or intensity of exercise you perform will result in hitting a plateau.

If you want to improve your fitness, you need to increase the difficulty of your workouts. This may mean running a little faster or further week by week or striving to do more pull-ups. The key to fitness progress is doing a little more work than you are comfortable with.

So how do you overload your body so that you get fitter? The answer is to manipulate the characteristics of your workout.

Here’s some ideas for strength training exercise variables

  • Increase the intensity of exercise – Make a specific movement more challenging by using more weight, alter the body position or use a different exercise.
  • Increase the volume of exercise – Add a repetition or two a week or increase a set of a specific exercise.
  • Reduce the recovery periods between sets – This mean you will you will start the next set a little more fatigued, which will make the workout more demanding.
  • Increase workout frequency – Increase the number of workouts per week.

 Here’s some ideas for cardio training variables

  • Increase the workout duration – Unless you train for a marathon, there is no reason to increase the duration to marathon-like distances. Then it’s better to increase speed.
  • Increase speed – Rather than exercising for longer, you can exercise at a higher speed.
  • Increase workout frequency – Increase the number of workouts per week.
  • Introduce new workouts to your training – interval, hill training, tempo running and Fartlek.

Now you’ve got some ideas of how to improve your fitness, but remember, the number one reason to get better is consistency.

Next time I’ll write about specificity.

See you soon!