This article outlines one of the major principles of how to get change with exercise over time, and that is progressive overload.
But, what does this mean?
When you exercise, the normal response from your muscles is to cause some disruption of the muscle fibres.
This is normal and should happen and is what can lead to DOMS (delayed onset of muscle soreness) the day or two after exercise. Over then next couple of days, the body repairs and builds the muscles up to a higher state than before so it can withstand greater load. So, the next time we exercise, we are able to do more than originally and need to be challenged to have further gains.
Variety is very important to both keep an exercise program fresh and to facilitate further changes in your body over time, however, there are 3 major things that should be kept in mind for a long-term program:
- You need a good base of strength in the major postural muscles – A good, strength-based program should be the foundation of any exercise program. If you do not have a good base of strength in the core stabilisers, such as the core stabilisers (the multifidus and transversus abdominis muscles) and the pelvic stabilisers (gluteus maximus, medius and minimus), you just won’t get the full benefit of your gym program and have the potential for back injury.
- Moderate changes each time, don’t over do it – Progressive overload, means exactly that, progressive changes. It is important to make incremental changes in your program each time, not huge leaps every time.
For example: if you are running, change either the time, speed or hills, not all over these at once. Changing all these aspects at one time leads to injuries such as tendinopathies (breakdown of the muscle tendons), which can take months to recover and really pull you backwards.
- Regular assessments are very important – The only way to know how you are progressing and to make such you are on the right track is with regular assessments with your instructor/health professional. Initially every 6-7 weeks, then after a while, at least every 3 months means that you are always on track and the exercises appropriate for what you want to achieve. It is the job of the instructor/health professional to see the things you do not see and adjust your program accordingly.
So, if you are serious about getting the most from your workout in the long term, make sure these principles are a foundation to your program.
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