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adarqui

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Making Progress - Progressive Overload
« on: February 07, 2010, 03:47:07 am »
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02/06/2010: Making Progress - Progressive Overload

By: Andrew Darqui



-- Albert Einstein (Allegedly)


This blog entry details Progressive Overload. If you're in maintenance mode or a Lazy Block, then progress is not to be expected. Otherwise, every session should be aimed at improving some quality, this is where progressive overload comes in. Progressive overload is nothing new, but I split it up into two phases which make more sense to me.

What is Progressive Overload?

Progressive Overload is simply the act of gradually subjecting your body to more stress than it is accustomed too. These gradual increases in stress lead to adaptations by the body in order to cope with the new demands placed on it. Adaptations may take the form of strength, hypertrophy (gains in muscle size), work capacity, bone density, flexibility, conditioning (anaerobic or aerobic enzymes, vo2max, stroke volume) etc.

Progressive overload can be achieved in two ways: building work capacity (BWC) and peaking.

In general, BWC (Conditioning / GPP / Hypertrophy / Strength Phase) can be achieved by:

1. Increasing the intensity of the exercise
2. Increasing the sets of an exercise
3. Increasing the repetitions of an exercise
3b. Modifying the interval of an exercise
4. Decreasing the rest interval between sets of an exercise
5. Increasing the frequency of training sessions
6. Increasing the amount of exercises per session

Peaking ( Strength / Power / Realization Phase) can be achieved by:

1. Increasing the intensity of the exercise
2. Decreasing the total volume of an exercise
3. Decreasing the repetitions of an exercise in a set
4. Increasing the rest interval between sets of an exercise
5. Increasing OR Decreasing the frequency of training sessions
6. Decreasing the amount of exercises per session

When most people think about progressive overload, they think about the first scenario, aka, the more is better approach (building work capacity). They often forget about the second scenario, peaking, which allows one to train at a much higher intensity by reducing fatigue, increasing rest intervals (fully recovering before each exercise), training at a higher percentage of 1RM/max velocity, and better taking advantage of the body's supercompensation responses.

BWC is basically a trampoline for peaking. Without spending time building up your work capacity, peaking will suffer. One of the main objectives of BWC is to enable you to tolerate more intense training sessions. BWC is effective for building strength, increasing muscle size, improving conditioning, and improving mental toughness. Though BWC improves those qualities, it also creates a considerable amount of fatigue & soreness. This fatigue can temporarily lead to stagnation and or deterioration of power. For example, significant strength gains in a phase that produces a considerable amount of fatigue may lead to a slight increase in vert, no increase in vert, or a slight drop in vert. You're not going to see big improvements in power if your body is constantly trying to recover.

Transitioning from building work capacity to peaking allows the body to reduce fatigue, train at a higher percentage of 1RM / max velocity, realize strength & power gains, focus more on sport and skill movements, obtain more personal best's (PR's/PB's), and utilize the central nervous system (CNS) more powerfully. Gains in work capacity have no other choice than to manifest themselves during a peaking phase. As the body reduces fatigue, max strength & explosive strength will improve; this means setting PR's in the weight room and on the field.

So, progressive overload for performance becomes a give & take between building work capacity and peaking. Below I will give common sense examples of each, first off is progressive overload for building work capacity.


PROGRESSIVE OVERLOAD - BUILDING WORK CAPACITY:

1. Increasing the intensity of the exercise

STRENGTH:
- Increasing the weight on a barbell by 5lb or 2.5kg
- Going from "normal tempo lifting" to pause lifting
- If you always train with a moderate tempo (3-1-2), transition into a more explosive tempo (2-0-1)
- Incorporating other techniques such as drop-sets, cluster-sets, and complexes.
- Adding chains to an exercise
- Adding bands to an exercise

SPRINTING:
- going from running shoes to track spikes/flats
- utilize barefooted sprints
- resisted sprinting: sled sprints, parachute sprints
- overspeed training: pulley, wind
- downhill sprinting on a < 6 degree decline

CONDITIONING:
- Transitioning from bodyweight calisthenics to vested (weighted) calisthenics, ie weighted burpees
- Adding weight to circuits with barbell, dumbell, and kettlebell complexes
- Trying to maintain a new tempo on middle to long distance runs.



2. Increasing the sets of an exercise

- Increasing the sets of an exercise is an easy way to build work capacity. Adding a set to a lift, adding another sprint, or adding another round to a conditioning circuit are all examples. If your performance or strength drops off (diminishes) after say two sets, then by improving your ability so that you drop off after 3 sets leads to a direct and substantial increase in work capacity. It is just important that the quality of the exercise does not suffer drastically by adding another set. If the quality of this set is drastically reduced, you can modify the set to be of slightly lower intensity so you can build up your capacity to handle it.

3. Increasing the repetitions of an exercise

- Increasing the repetitions of an exercise might call for pushing yourself to failure. Pushing yourself to failure is alot more acceptable in a BWC block than a peaking block. A simple example of increasing the reps of an exercise is say, for example, you can achieve 3 sets of 6 on bench press. Next workout you attempt 7 reps on each set, but you may only get 7-6-6. This is fine and to be expected. Next session shoot for 7-7-7 again, but you might only get 7-7-6. Regardless, this is progress. All progress is good progress.

3b. Modifying the interval of an exercise

- Modifying the interval of an exercise usually refers to increasing or decreasing distance of a sprint or jog. For example, say you are running a 5k for time. You could then devise two intervals which, when combined together, help to improve the original exercise (5K). Running 3.5k at a higher pace than what you would run your 5k will help you get used to the demands of a new and improved pace. Attempting to run 6k at your 5k pace will maintain add in another stimulus, since at the end of your 5k you should be dead, attempting to extend it 1k more at the same pace will lead to further adaptations. Both of those intervals would be used to develop qualities beneficial to running the 5k.

4. Decreasing the rest interval between sets of an exercise

- Decreasing the rest intervals between sets allows for overloading your ability to recover. Overloading your rest intervals is a good way to improve how fast you recover. Going back to your original rest interval will now result in a more complete recovery, which leads to improved performance. Overloading rest intervals can result in beneficial structural changes to your heart, lungs, liver, enzymes, and mitochondria within muscle. Reducing rest intervals can also have a positive effect on anabolic hormones.


5. Increasing the frequency of training sessions

- Increasing the frequency of training sessions has it's limits while building work capacity. Extremely high frequency routines should not be done in these blocks due to the high volume nature of BWC. Instead, this refers more to being able to go from one intense lifting session to two, sprinting 2-3 days a week instead of one, etc. Using barbell squat as an example, one might be completely drained from one session a week. This individual might want to try and become accustomed to squatting twice a week which would be a huge improvement over only being able to squat once a week.

- Increasing the frequency of training while really pushing your work capacity deserves a little more caution than most. That is why it's essential to listen to your body and back off if you feel anything similar to tendonitis-like symptoms or extremely achy joints. For example, again using the squat, one might want to move from squatting once a week to twice weekly. A good approach to avoid overdoing it would be to oscillate the per week volume, such as:

- Week 1: monday = squat
- Week 2: monday = squat, thursday = squat
- Week 3: monday = squat
- Week 4: monday = squat, thursday = squat
- Week 5: monday = squat, thursday = squat
- ...


6. Increasing the amount of exercises per session

- Increasing the amount of exercises per session is just another way to create more work. Examples of this could be adding another assistance exercise to a lifting session, adding some type of reactive drill such as alternate leg bounds before or after sprint work, or adding another barbell complex to a conditioning circuit.





PROGRESSIVE OVERLOAD - PEAKING:

1. Increasing the intensity of the exercise

STRENGTH: Same as BWC example
SPRINTING: Same as BWC example
CONDITIONING: Same as BWC example

2. Decreasing the total volume of an exercise

- As far as lifting goes, decreasing the total volume allows you to focus more on a specific lift and improve intensity per set. Usually this is done in conjunction with increasing rest intervals. A good example of this is transitioning from a traditional 5x5 to a ramped 1x5, allowing you to reduce fatigue yet still hit a true 5RM. The total number of worksets drops from five to one, yet the quality of the new work set should be higher than that achieved during the traditional 5x5. The same approach can be applied to sprinting or conditioning, by monitoring performance and not allowing it to drop off too much (<3-6%).

3. Decreasing the repetitions of an exercise

- When peaking for performance, going to failure every workout is not the best idea. Instead, going to complete failure should be used sparingly. Working up to (75% 1RM+) and including  "non-psyched up" 100% RM is fine, as long as you are not trying to grind out a rep for 10 seconds. Psyched up 100% Maxes can leave you drained for weeks. When it comes to lifting, stopping a rep short of complete failure will spare you alot of fatigue.

4. Increasing the rest interval between sets of an exercise

- Rest intervals between sets can be increased to allow for more adequate recovery, unless the drill or exercise being performed requires a certain rest interval for competition. By increasing rest periods between lifts, sprints, or power exercises, you allow for the recovery of the central nervous system, replenishing important energetic resources, ridding the muscles of lactic acid if any, and improve focus.

5. Increasing OR Decreasing the frequency of training sessions

- The frequency of training can either be increased or decreased. This depends entirely on the routine being followed. Decreasing the frequency of training is easy enough to understand. When increasing the frequency of training, it is extremely important to reduce the volume per session. Any type of significant fatigue during increased frequency training should result in adding more rest days to avoid burnout. Sessions should be short, to the point, and of high quality. Rest days can be be pre-programmed, or better yet, decided upon waking that day. Excess soreness, fatigue, horrible stopwatch-doubleclick's (hehe), and increased heart rate in the morning are signs you should be resting.

6. Decreasing the amount of exercises per session

- As you get closer to peaking, getting rid of some exercises may be beneficial. Having too many assistance exercises becomes unnecessary. Sessions should become shorter with adequate rest periods, while focusing on quality over quantity. The exercises that provide the most specificity or benefit to the goal of the program deserve all of the resources. Mind you, this is a gradual process, tapering down as you near the end of the program.




-- adarq

Joe

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Re: 02/06/2010: Making Progress - Progressive Overload
« Reply #1 on: February 07, 2010, 02:24:43 pm »
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Silly Einstein and defining insanity as making an induction fallacy.

Noice article though.
"i threaten to kill myself whenever my parnets tell me to get a job" - bjpenn

adarqui

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Re: 02/06/2010: Making Progress - Progressive Overload
« Reply #2 on: February 07, 2010, 03:18:13 pm »
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Silly Einstein and defining insanity as making an induction fallacy.

Noice article though.

thanks man.

ya it sounded cool though and somewhat applies.. ie, spinning your wheels by utilizing the same type of training over and over and over.

Joe

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Re: 02/06/2010: Making Progress - Progressive Overload
« Reply #3 on: February 07, 2010, 03:56:05 pm »
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Silly Einstein and defining insanity as making an induction fallacy.

Noice article though.

thanks man.

ya it sounded cool though and somewhat applies.. ie, spinning your wheels by utilizing the same type of training over and over and over.
"i threaten to kill myself whenever my parnets tell me to get a job" - bjpenn

adarqui

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Re: 02/06/2010: Making Progress - Progressive Overload
« Reply #4 on: February 07, 2010, 04:02:52 pm »
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Silly Einstein and defining insanity as making an induction fallacy.

Noice article though.

thanks man.

ya it sounded cool though and somewhat applies.. ie, spinning your wheels by utilizing the same type of training over and over and over.

hahahah..

that's not really possible for most cases, though it does sound cool. for example, when i come up with a programming idea, i think it through in my mind, write down notes/design plans, then once i think i have it set, i start applying it.. if this program relies on external factors, then as soon as i start programming it, many things change.. things that not even an alien life force could predict...

the same rings true for performance training programming, IMO.

:F

Joe

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Re: 02/06/2010: Making Progress - Progressive Overload
« Reply #5 on: February 07, 2010, 04:10:14 pm »
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Silly Einstein and defining insanity as making an induction fallacy.

Noice article though.

thanks man.

ya it sounded cool though and somewhat applies.. ie, spinning your wheels by utilizing the same type of training over and over and over.

hahahah..

that's not really possible for most cases, though it does sound cool. for example, when i come up with a programming idea, i think it through in my mind, write down notes/design plans, then once i think i have it set, i start applying it.. if this program relies on external factors, then as soon as i start programming it, many things change.. things that not even an alien life force could predict...

the same rings true for performance training programming, IMO.

:F

You're just stupider than Tesla, but then again so am I.

Tesla could friggin predict external factors, he knew where and why his machines would wear and tear.
"i threaten to kill myself whenever my parnets tell me to get a job" - bjpenn

adarqui

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Re: 02/06/2010: Making Progress - Progressive Overload
« Reply #6 on: February 07, 2010, 04:14:36 pm »
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Silly Einstein and defining insanity as making an induction fallacy.

Noice article though.

thanks man.

ya it sounded cool though and somewhat applies.. ie, spinning your wheels by utilizing the same type of training over and over and over.

hahahah..

that's not really possible for most cases, though it does sound cool. for example, when i come up with a programming idea, i think it through in my mind, write down notes/design plans, then once i think i have it set, i start applying it.. if this program relies on external factors, then as soon as i start programming it, many things change.. things that not even an alien life force could predict...

the same rings true for performance training programming, IMO.

:F

You're just stupider than Tesla, but then again so am I.

Tesla could friggin predict external factors, he knew where and why his machines would wear and tear.

perhaps he could predict a good percentage of them, but not all.

if he claims he could predict all external factors, then his designs contain major flaws, or he's lying.

:P

Joe

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Re: 02/06/2010: Making Progress - Progressive Overload
« Reply #7 on: February 07, 2010, 04:25:09 pm »
0
Silly Einstein and defining insanity as making an induction fallacy.

Noice article though.

thanks man.

ya it sounded cool though and somewhat applies.. ie, spinning your wheels by utilizing the same type of training over and over and over.

hahahah..

that's not really possible for most cases, though it does sound cool. for example, when i come up with a programming idea, i think it through in my mind, write down notes/design plans, then once i think i have it set, i start applying it.. if this program relies on external factors, then as soon as i start programming it, many things change.. things that not even an alien life force could predict...

the same rings true for performance training programming, IMO.

:F

You're just stupider than Tesla, but then again so am I.

Tesla could friggin predict external factors, he knew where and why his machines would wear and tear.

perhaps he could predict a good percentage of them, but not all.

if he claims he could predict all external factors, then his designs contain major flaws, or he's lying.

:P

He didn't make that claim.

Regardless, he was a beast, and this very off-topic.
"i threaten to kill myself whenever my parnets tell me to get a job" - bjpenn

cowed77

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Re: 02/06/2010: Making Progress - Progressive Overload
« Reply #8 on: February 09, 2010, 10:13:17 pm »
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i wiki-ed abit on this Tesla, and am awed.
fuck, a hundred mes, wont make a hundrendth tesla!
BW: 74kg
Ht: 174cm, 5'8
reach: 220cm