Progressive overload is a principle widely used in strength programs around the world, for many, merely just understanding the why will help them understand that progression is important.
The gradual increase in stress placed upon the body during training
To picture progressive overload, I like to use the analogy of Milo of Croton as an example of progressive overload.
Milo Of Croton was a celebrated Olympic wrestler, but he was well known more for his ‘SuperHuman’ Strength, rather than his wrestling accolades. Milo demonstrated what’s considered as one of the first recorded forms of progressive overload.
He decided to carry a newborn calf, around his house, every day to help build strength. As the Calf grew, so did Milo’s strength. Fast forward a few years, now that newborn calf has developed into a fully grown bull, however, milo was still galavanting around his house as if this bull was just as heavy as it originally was, back when it was a calf.
How was he able to achieve this you may ask?
As the bull grew in size, Milo’s body adapted to the weight of the bull. Remember, this didn’t happen overnight. It took years for the bull to fully develop, allowing Milo’s body to adapt to the weight the bull was at, progressively getting stronger.
What’s this all have to do with Deadlifts and bench press?
The principle of progressive overload is one of the most effective ways to build strength. Our bodies are great at adapting, by continuing to manipulate the weight, volume, intensity, tempo, the variation of movement, and many other factors, this prevents the body from completely adapting to the methods we use to help progress our strength, giving us a slight incline in improvement over time.
This is what allows both novice lifters and elite athletes to continue to progress their strength to feats unimaginable to the human race.
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