Whether you train alone, with a personal trainer, or in a group class, it’s normal to wonder…
Is this really the best workout program for me?
Am I training hard enough?
Am I training too hard?
Am I supposed to feel sore?
Lot’s of people think that workouts should be excruciating to be effective. Especially when big fitness culture bombards us with messages like:
“Pain is Weakness Leaving the Body”
“Go Hard or Go Home”
“I’m not done until my muscles are screaming for mercy”
“No Pain, No Gain”
In fact… I used to think it was my job to make people sore.
It’s true. In 2008 when I was apprenticing in a big box gym as a personal trainer, I’d overhear conversations with other trainers bragging about how sore they made their clients.
In their defense, they were after all, giving the clients what they wanted. Many clients expect that they should be hurting after every workout or they are not getting their money’s worth.
What do you think?
Should every single workout leave you feeling like you can’t walk up the stairs the next day?
This is where novices get it wrong. When the purpose of every workout is to work every muscle to failure, the body starts to break down without properly repairing. This is called overtraining, and it leads to trouble.
Overtraining doesn’t make you tough, resilient or hard-core. What overtraining creates is:
- Decreased performance.
- Increased perceived effort during workouts.
- Excessive fatigue.
- Agitation and moodiness.
- Insomnia or restless sleep.
- Increased appetite.
- Chronic or nagging injuries.
- Metabolic imbalances.
There’s a better way.
A better way to challenge your body without feeling defeated and depleted is to have a program where you focus on developing motor skills in a few key movements, and then progressively increasing the challenge… over a period of several weeks.
Using this strategy, you’ll definitely work harder over time, it just won’t ‘feel’ as hard because you are pacing the increased work with your body’s increasing capability. You’ll be amazed how you gain strength and improve muscle tone, without excessive pain or exertion!
This strategy is called progressive overload. It’s how we create sustainable, effective workout plans that deliver continuous, predictable, amazing results for our clients, without leaving them feeling beat down!
Since progressive overload is a basic principle of becoming fitter & stronger, it’s important that your workout plan includes it.
In this article, I’ll share with you the strategy we use with our clients to get the most out of your workouts without overtraining and also tips on how you can do this if you are training on your own.
Progressive Overload, is the key to super-effective workouts that actually feel good!
Progressive overload is especially important when working your primary big lifts like:
- overhead presses
- upper body rows
- core work.
It’s important not to have too much variety in these lifts during a program cycle, so that you can continue to improve at them over time.
How long should a program cycle be?
The magic number of weeks that you can continue to progressively overload the same primary lifts before you get diminishing returns is about 12-Weeks.
After that, it’s time to select new variations of those lifts and start over again with a new program.
In order for your training plan to be progressive, you should gradually increase the challenge in your primary lifts by increasing any of the following:
- the number of reps
- the amount of weight
- the frequency you perform individual exercises
- the amount of time your muscles are using tension.
At ForeverStrong, our progressive overload strategy ensures that we increase the challenge and vary the intensity at the right doses so you work at your peak levels without risking overtraining.
The downside? It can get a little boring…
We know that working the same basic lifts can get monotonous. Over the last 10 years I’ve experimented with designing 6, 8, & 12 week programs for our clients. Most people get bored and unmotivated at the 6-week mark. Although, that’s when they really start tapping into their potential!
So, when we decided to return to 12-week programs so that our clients would get the best results, we also decided to offer our clients as much variety as possible in their accessory exercises. Those are isolation, aka Sculpt, movements and cardio, aka Melt, exercises.
We’ve used this trick of keeping the primary lifts for 12 weeks but adding in a lot of variety in other areas of the workout for a little over a year now and we are seeing phenomenal results and no complaints about getting bored!
If you are training on your own, and find that you get bored quickly on a program, I recommend you design the same flexibility into your home workouts. Gradually increase the challenge on your primary 5 lifts every week for about 12 weeks. Then, if you want more variety, you can switch your isolation exercises about every 3 weeks and change up your cardio routine as often as you like.
By having the right balance of variety AND consistency, you’ll get amazing results in your strength, energy, and appearance.
Using the progressive overload strategy, you’ll only “feel the burn” for the first week when you introduce new movements. After that, your body’s fast improvements will surprise you!
Committed to Making Fitness Easy for You in 2022
Owner, Personal Trainer, Health Coach
At ForeverStrong, we love making fitness easy for people over 40. We want to help 200 people near Marriottsville get in the best shape of their life in 2022. If you know someone who needs an effective workout program that builds them up and never beats them down, please refer them to us by sharing this article with them.