Fitness Funda Of The Week By K11 – Never Ending Results: Progressive Overload

Baji Burjorji, 53, is a Marketing Executive. Thrice a week he is in the green space of Five Gardens, where he walks for 30 minutes with his friends. He does a small warm up and covers a distance of 2 km. He also allows some time for his stretches. Zenobia Pavri has been a regular at the gym. Her schedule is set. She does a mix of machines and dumbbells and some stretches. Shruti has been religiously following the schedule card set by the head trainer.  For the last 2 months, she has not wavered from the weights nor the repetitions. On the face of it, Baji and Zenobia and Gulu are doing a good job. Compared to their couch potato friends, they are investing time for their health and fitness.

However, there’s more to it. Let’s take a closer look at the nature of their training; Baji is doing the same distance in the same amount of time repeatedly. Zenobia has not changed the poundage nor the repetitions. A critical factor is being overlooked: that of gradually incrementing the ‘Training Stress’. Unknowingly, they are doing the same loads repeatedly. Both are now fully adapted to the ‘Training Stress’. To improve, the heart and the muscles need targets that are continually challenging. In other words, Baji needs to increase his speed, while Zenobia needs to escalate the weights and repetitions.

A norm that assures benefits from training, is the principle of Progressive Overload; the principle states that training must be raised to a greater intensity (effort and load) than the existing capacity. This action will create a demand to which the body will adapt (adjust). In other words, the body produces physiological changes that allow the body to perform better. The overloads should not be sudden and sporadic; rather they must occur consistently and progressively.

In the absence of overload, the body will adapt and no further progress will be made. This occurrence is called a plateau. The exercisers do not experience gains from training. They stay the same. A load too small will fail to ignite adaptations; a load too big may pose a risk of injury. A significant principle that governs fitness is Progressive Overload – simply put – gradually increase the exercise stress on the body and its systems. This kind of escalation is crucial to getting results from the workout routine.

Lata Rajan
Senior Faculty (Exercise Science)
K11 Academy of Fitness Sciences
Fitness Icon Kaizzad Capadia


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