Unlocking Strength Training and Weight Lifting Through Embracing Change.

### Importance of Progressive Overload in Strength Training

When Bryan Mann talks about weight lifting, he often tells the story of Milo of Croton, a Greek wrestler who lived 2,500 years ago. Legend has it that Milo started his yearly training by buying a newborn calf. Every day, he hoisted the calf onto his shoulders and carried it up the stadium steps. As the calf grew, Milo became stronger, until he was carrying around a full-size ox.

Strength training, especially as you age, improves cardiovascular health, blood pressure, and bone density and reduces the risk of lower back pain. But none of that happens without progressive overload. The core of every strength training program is a concept called progressive overload, in which you gradually increase either the weight, repetitions, difficulty, intensity, or some combination.

### How to Implement Progressive Overload in Workouts

Overload doesn’t mean you have to clean and jerk 200 pounds, however. It doesn’t even require lifting heavier weights. You can challenge your muscles by doing a more difficult movement — lunges instead of squats — or doing it faster. Going into your garage and lifting the same dumbbells the same number of times for weeks on end will lead to a workout plateau where you stop building additional muscle mass.

If you are creative, you can get stronger with a pair of dumbbells or even no weights at all. You can progress from chair squats, without holding onto anything, to squats holding onto a heavy object, such as a backpack filled with books. Or, start by doing push-ups against a wall or a counter, and gradually make the movement more difficult by placing your hands lower so you’re supporting more of your body’s weight.

### Simple 12-Week Workout Cycle

For those looking to build muscle, here is a simple 12-week workout cycle to try with dumbbells or a barbell. Start by lifting twice a week and increase to three or four times a week, if your body feels strong and you want more rapid progress. Pick three different movements total, such as lunges, squats, bench press, or shoulder press. You can do the exercises all on one day, or split them up between days.

In Weeks 1 to 4, focus on three sets of 12 to 15 reps. For Weeks 5 to 8, switch to three sets of 8 to 12 reps. Finally, in Weeks 9 to 12, challenge yourself with three sets of 5 to 8 reps. Remember to include a rest week after the 12-week cycle to allow your muscles to recover.

In conclusion, implementing progressive overload in your strength training routine is crucial for continued growth and improvement. By gradually increasing the difficulty of your workouts, whether through weights, repetitions, or intensity, you can ensure that you continue to see progress in your strength and overall fitness levels.

Original Story at www.nytimes.com – 2024-05-10 22:47:00

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