Applying the Overload Principle will explode your fitness fast. Learn why and how to use it to change your body more quickly than you ever dreamed possible.
This basic fitness concept is the key to getting into the best shape of your life. Once I understood this rule, I realized why I was still overweight. And why my body never seemed to change, despite working out often.
However, once I applied this foundation for successful training, I lost 30 pounds in 3 months. I had been trying to take off that 30 pounds for three years.
The experience of finally losing the last 30 pounds is why I want you to know about the powerful overload principle and how it can help skyrocket your health and fitness levels.
Application of this pillar, one of the most effective training principles will help you burn fat and build muscle. Better than ever before.
What is the Overload Principle Definition?
The Overload Principle states that to change your body, you have to overload. You must work harder. To burn fat and build more muscle, you must challenge your body to adapt to:
- increased resistance or
- increasing intensity
This application of overload is the first fundamental concept that any training enthusiast needs to know. If you want to see dramatic body transformation, you must apply this cardinal rule of conditioning.
How to apply the overload principle in practice
- First, get a notebook and a pen, or a strength training journal, and record your training sessions. Or use an app or a spreadsheet.
- Second, challenge your body and force your body to adapt.
- Rinse and repeat.
Recording your training and gradually adding weight is how to implement progressive resistance training. Start by figuring out your one-rep max (1RM) for a particular exercise, such as:
- bench press, or
- the deadlift
Start Keeping Records
It is critical to start keeping records of your workouts. The days of going into the gym, doing a few sets with the same amount of weight as the last five years are over.
From now on:
- go into the gym, and warm-up on the treadmill or elliptical for at least five minutes
- then do a few warm-up sets
- Only after you warm-up should you start your working reps and sets.
- 4 to 6 reps for your work sets are sufficient for increasing strength
- and three working sets should be adequate, as well.
Ed Coan is considered to be one of the greatest powerlifters of all time.
Training is Hard
Stop believing those who say that they built their physique without hard work. Training by the overload principle means that you will feel the effort by your last rep. If you are doing five reps, by rep 4 or 5, you are going to struggle a bit to move the weight.
This concept applies to any of your workouts.
In the deadlifting example, let's say that you can deadlift 100 pounds for about six reps. Make a note of your sets, and the weights that you choose should cause you to max out at six reps.
Once you can do three working sets of deadlifts of 6 reps, then you increase the weight. Increasing the resistance by 5 pounds a week is sufficient to begin to see results. Do not think that a weight increase of 2.5 or 5 pounds a week is too small.
Progressive overload is much safer than attempting to do your maximum lift every training session. Hermann Goerner, one of the strongest men in history, never lifted his one-rep max, even in a show, why should you?
To sum up, the principle of progressive overload states that your body adapts to imposed resistance. Therefore, you must increase loads gradually and progressively. This increase in your training load will spur muscle growth. Increase your cardio load to burn more fat.
For example, weight training skills are best learned in a progressive fashion. Starting with light weights and adding weight gradually ensures your safety.
Your tendons, ligaments, joints, and muscles are better protected when you increase the load gradually. As a result, there is less chance of injury. And if you are weight training, you must avoid injury, otherwise, your training days will plummet and you will be forced to find alternative activities.
You can use the overload principle from now on in every workout for body strength and conditioning, whether with weight training or cardio.
For cardio, you can increase distance, or decrease time as in these five cardio workouts to shred fat in just 12 weeks.
Record your training
Plan and monitor training loads for every workout.
- Do a couple of warm-up sets.
- And three working sets of 4 – 6 repetitions.
- By rep 5 or 6, you should be putting in an effort.
- You should not be able to do ten more reps at rep 6.
- If you can do ten more reps by rep 6, then the weight is too light.
- Once you can do three sets of 5 or 6 reps, then increase the weight by 5 pounds and start over at four reps.
Now you know the answer to how you can get leaner and stronger. Keep a running record of your training adaptations.
Here is a simple strength training progression for you to use in your deadlift or any other training programs:
Warm-up number of sets and number of reps:
- Five reps with 50 % of your 1RM deadlift
- Three reps with 60 % of your 1RM
- Two reps with 70 % of your 1 RM
Work number of sets using a periodized training block of 6 weeks
- The first week – 3 sets of 6 reps using 75 % of your 1RM deadlift or 3 x 6 x .75
- The second week – 3 sets of 5 reps using 80 % of your 1RM or 3 x 5 x .80
- Third week – 3 x 4 x .85
- Fourth week – 3 x 3 x .90
- Fifth week – 3 x 2 x .95
- The sixth week – Retest your 1RM using five reps at a level 6 or 7, as in the Wendler 1RM formula.
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