The 8 Principles of Training

Because your body gets used to whatever type of training you do, the Principle of Overload asserts that you must gradually and systematically increase your training load in order to continue to improve.

The Principle of Overload for Weight Training

Because your body gets used to whatever type of training you do, the Principle of Overload asserts that you must gradually and systematically increase your training load in order to continue to improve.

For example, if you have trouble lifting 50 lbs. 10 times, it will soon get easier as you train. If you don't begin to lift with 55 or 60 lbs., 50 lbs. 10 times will be too easy. You won't stimulate strength gains unless you increase your weight load. To apply the Principle of Overload to weight training programs, you can adjust the intensity (how heavy), frequency (how often), duration (how long), recovery (how much rest) and volume (also called tonnage, or total weight lifted) to achieve your desired results.

Periodically increasing training loads is known as progressive overload or, for weight training programs, progressive resistance exercise (PRE).

To increase strength, lift weights at 60%-85% of your maximum lift (1 RM).

As you get stronger and your maximum lifts gets heavier, you must progressively increase your training weight loads in order to maintain a minimum intensity of at least 60%-85% of your maximum. See Power Endurance

You can test your single maximum lift (1 RM) by lifting as much weight as you can using proper form and moving through a complete range of motion (provided you are well conditioned). Base your percentage of maximum on that weight to determine your training weightload.

If you are new to lifting weights, testing for maximum repetitions may place undue stress on your joints and muscles.

A good rule of thumb is to begin a conditioning program starting with weight loads that you perceive to be light.

Complete 10-15 repetitions using good form. Gradually increase the weight for at least 6 weeks before you attempt to test your 1 RM. Depending on your personal condition and needs, you can also perform 5 repetitions or 10 repetitions as your maximum load, or use a prediction formula to estimate your maximum effort. See Exercise Training Programs Strength Fitness

As with the The Principle of Specificity, the Principle of Overload has to do with changes that occur within your muscles as a result of your training. A similar concept from the field of motor learning is commonly applied to weight training programs, particularly if training is intended to improve sport skills.

Overlearning is a strategy whereby practice continues beyond what is needed to perform a skill.

Overlearning is essentially overloading skill learning by repeating correct movement patterns to (a) increase skill retention, (b) correct inefficient technique, or (c) rehabilitate an injury. Simply, it is overpracticing the right movements to remember them better.

Total training programs, including the weightlifting workouts, should employ both the Principle of Overload and overlearning strategies to improve the components of fitness that match the energy demands of the sport, as well as improve skill learning.

Examples of How to Apply the Principle of Overload

  • How does the saying, No pain, no gain apply to the Overload Principle? You will learn to distinguish between the "pain" of working hard and the "pain" of injuries. Overloading will result in normal training effects: muscles burning, sore, stiff, etc., and you can continue to work through them. But you should work around muscle strains and pulls, joint sprains, and injuries to allow them to heal. Be aggressive about working hard, but avoid aggravating your injuries.
  • Does Practice makes perfect mean that the more you train, or overload, the better? No, not exactly. Training obsessively, patterning poor technique, and lifting more weight through a limited range of motion limits the training effect and the transferability to sport and work activities. It is the quality of practice that makes perfect, not just the volume or intensity of practice.

The Principle of Overload means that you must continue to increase your workload, but it is just as important to get adequate rest - but not for too long.

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