Monday, March 21, 2011

Overload...The Gateway to Results

When people want to get into a new fitness routine there is often intensive thought put into deciding what is ultimately going to give them the best bang for their buck. Should it be yoga, pilates, personal training, a general gym membership, or some combination of all the above? Regardless of what option you choose the most important component of training is a concept called OVERLOAD. Overload is defined as imposing a stress on the body that it is not normally accustomed to. This is something that is initially very easy to achieve when first beginning a training program; however, after the first 4-6 weeks the "honeymoon phase" ends and the body needs to be challenged much more creatively to continue to spark noticeable results. The goal is to be using this overload principle to achieve an adaptation that is known as SUPERCOMPENSATION. Supercompensation is the condition where the body has now physiologically adapted to the exercise stimulus and can now tolerate a greater stress. This act of supercompensation results in improved strength & endurance, greater cardiovascular efficiency, reduction in body fat, and improved metabolic rate, to name a few.

The question now becomes how do we continue to get overload on a long term scale? We can do this several ways. One would be altering choice of equipment. Implementing strategies like using kettlebells for 4 weeks, then switching to stability balls, then incorporating some body weight work, and then a blend of all 3 can continue to challenge the body to adapt. Another way to induce overload is to challenge physiological response. This can be done by playing with sets, reps, load, rest periods and finally tempo. An example of this would be workouts done at a slower tempo with higher load and longer rest periods interchanged with workouts using lighter weight, a faster tempo, and shorter rest periods. Finally you can continue to impose overload onto the body by increase difficulty in proprioceptive response. This can be achieved by using single leg & single arm exercises, removing bases of support and adding unstable bases of support in place of stable bases of support.

These strategies all really drive home the principle that intensity in training is always relevant to the situation. Greater intensity does not always mean harder and harder until we are pushing our bodies to the brink of injury. Intensity can be viewed as modifying difficulty subtly with how we address the specific variables in training. If someone goes from sets of 6-8 with 2 minute rest periods to sets of 15-20 with 30sec rest periods this will drive intensity while actually decreasing the necessary load. This really demonstrates that intensity is all in the variables and application. At BT Fitness, we are constantly putting these variables into use to ensure that our clients are continuously placed in new and challenging environments with their training so that adaptation remains constant and results remain consistent!       

1 comment:

  1. Overload it is. Honestly, I have never heard of these things that you just shared. Good to know all of these. People should really be aware of these information and not rely on what's being told by them.