Too often people go into the gym without a proper plan, without seting a workout goal. They walk in, lift some weights or perform some exercise and walk out. Job is done!
Well sure, you turned up and that’s a good start but did you have a goal in mind for that particular workout session that fits into your overall entire exercise or health goal?
If you want proper results then you need a plan.
Training principles are often forgotten and the most basic of them, progressive overloading, is a good place to start remembering.
What is progressive overloading? The progressive overload principle states that for any muscle growth to occur when your muscles need to be forced out of their comfort zones and into areas where they are overloaded above and beyond their normal capability.
Entering this ‘above and beyond’ zone need not be extreme. For example;
- This week you perform a barbell bench press at 80kg for 3 sets of 10
- Next week you perform a barbell bench press at 80kg for 2 sets of 10 and 1 set of 1
or at 82.5kg for 3 sets of 10
Regardless of the increase, the point is the overall volume of the workout has increased and therefore your body has been forced to do more than the previous workout. In very simple terms your body goes, “Damn, that was hard, I better get bigger and stronger so I can cope better next time I have to do that”. And so your body puts resources into growing more muscle (as long as you give it the right nutrients).
This takes time. Which is why the body shape you want is not created overnight or even over a few weeks. It takes hours, months and maybe years of exercise and continual overloading for adaptations to occur.
Those guys with the sick pack abs and massive pecs have spent years in the gym training to look like that and, if they didn’t, they’ve had some help from the pharmaceutical leisure industry. And those guys whose body shape doesn’t change are either happy how they look or just don’t know what they’re doing. The latter is quite often true.
Keep progressive overloading simple. Don’t go for big increases week-to-week. A simple rule is to increase your total volume lifted (the total volume of weight lifted for the whole workout) by 3% each workout.
So, if this week you lift 10,000kg next week aim to lift at least 10,300kg for that workout. And, importantly, track your workouts so you can see your progress and know that you are progressively overloading over a period of time.