The word overload triggers a degree in caution in most people I would say.

As a personal trainer in Swansea I have planned and designed thousands of exercise programmes and worked with thousands of different clients of all ranges and abilities. In order for my clients to improve I need to structure my training programs in a progressive manner. Build people up as it were….

In order for the body to improve it needs to be pushed to its limits, however I can’t stress enough that this needs to be done gradually over a period of time.

For those of you that don’t know what overload is then it is a principle that basically states that the level of intensity you perform at must be higher than normal for physiological adaptation (change) to occur. This can be used with resistance training as well as cardiovascular training, and pretty much all types of training really.

I’ll use an example: I’ve set my client the challenge of bicep curling 10kg on each arm 10 times. At first it is a struggle and they manage 8, and then they keep on training until they can reach 10 reps. It is still a challenge but after a couple of weeks it becomes much more comfortable. This is the time to progress things a little and OVERLOAD your self.

You have got to work harder than your muscles can handle, this overload allows your muscle fibres to grow stronger. It is important that this is done gradually and under the advice of a personal trainer or experienced exerciser. You should not attempt to overload until you become used to exercising.

Overload can be applied to every different ability and level of exerciser and is such an important factor in making physical gains and reaching your goals. You can make it as specific as you like. If you are an endurance runner then you can overload your cardiovascular system(with intervals) so it becomes more efficient at delivering oxygen to your muscles which will improve your performance massively. This would be done gradually and can take a few months before you reach a level which you seek.

Many people reach exercise plateaus because they fail to change things around and get stuck in the same old boring exercise routine which just maintains their fitness level without improving it. If you are extremely fit and happy with your level then you wouldn’t need to necessarily overload your body you would just need to maintain your current level of training.

If you want to overload your muscular system then the variables you can alter are the weight, the repetitions, intensity, rest period and duration (how long it takes you to carry out 1 repetition). It is really important that you only change one variable at a time so your body hasn’t got too many things to cope with. Do everything in a gradual measured approach and you should be well on the way to hitting your targets.

I hope this can help you reach the next step on your personal fitness ladder!

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