The Forgotten Principle: Overload

Most people can write themselves a good exercise program. Let’s get that much out of the way. 100% Honesty: the programs you need in order to make yourself successful are already published online, you just need to google it. There is a program for weight loss, for marathon running, for athletic prowess, injury recovery, you name it. It’s been done and shared and posted all over. Writing workouts isn’t where people make mistakes. The program isn’t where training becomes special.

Where training becomes special is the ability to push PAST the threshold of comfort. In order to create a new adaptation, whether that be a larger muscle, less painful joint movement, or a little less body fat in the midsection just to name a few, the stimulus you apply has to be a bit more intense than the stimulus the body normally undergoes. This principle is called overload.

Everyday, you exert force and lift weights. You move yourself, you move your children, you move your things around the office or house, you do a lot of force production and exertion. Your body is the PERFECT body for doing just that much exertion. It does it everyday with minimal to no effort and little strain if any. You didn’t even consider it weightlifting until I told you just now. Your body is perfectly adapted to the strain you put on it every day. If you want it to become an even better body, you’re going to need to give yourself a little more to handle. That means the dumbbells need to be a little heavier and your breathing needs to become a little more strained. Those 10 pound dumbbells are nice and easy, but they aren’t accomplishing jack shit for you anymore. Time to grab some 20s. I know you’re awesome at running a 5k, you’ve done it every week for a year. Guess what? Now it’s time to run 7k.

Your body wants to do one thing: Be. Comfortable. In order to change your body, you need to do one thing: GET. UNCOMFORTABLE. Run harder than you ran last week. Lift more than you did yesterday. Push yourself to that brink of “Oh Shit, I might not make it through this set.” Once you do that, your body has to relearn what comfortable is. It has to develop new muscle, pump blood more efficiently, and move in a different manner than before. It has to ADAPT. It has to improve. Until you’re willing to make yourself a little uncomfortable, that body is not going to change.

Good trainers meet you where you are and ask you how hard you’re willing to work. Great trainers meet you where you are and push you past that. The best trainers meet you where you are and somehow convince you that you are even further along than you gave yourself credit for and get you to push past it without even a second thought.

Figure out what you can handle. Then look to push a little bit past it. Do a few extra hard reps, go the extra mile, LITERALLY, and maybe even make that workout last a few extra minutes. Then, once your body gets used to doing that, do even a little bit more.

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