Today on the blog, we discuss a vital component of recovery and strength building: progressive overload. If your goal is to build strength and stability, you must incorporate the principles of progressive overloading into your training. The human body adapts remarkably well to new movement patterns. Without variation, progress will stagnate.
Progressive Overload Explained
To increase your strength, progressive overloading is essential. Before we get into what that means, first we should define what “load” means. Load refers to a source of pressure. This includes your own weight and external sources, such as a piece of exercise equipment. For example, a bodyweight pushup bears load on your hands, wrists, arm muscles, core and more. To reduce the load, you can drop your knees to the ground, or not bend at your elbows to full depth.
You need to increase load over time in order to build muscle. This is called progressive loading. There are a few variables to help make this happen. These include:
- Change the speed at which the exercise is performed
- Increase the weight (load)
- Adjust rest periods
- Increase the volume of the exercise (sets and repetitions)
It’s important to switch up and adjust variables to get the most out of your training. If you only change one variable, your progress may plateau.
What Does Progressive Overload Have to Do With Physiotherapy?
If you have an injury or strain, there is likely some kind of tissue damage. Healing takes time, and in the early days it’s often wise to back off of your regular activities. When it’s safe to reintroduce movement again, it’s likely that the area around the injury has lost some strength due to reduced activity.
This is where strength building comes into the healing process. If you don’t build up the strength around the injured joint or muscle, you are at higher risk for re-injury. As discussed, an essential principle of strength training is increasing the load over time—also known as progressive overload.
When you come to see us in our virtual or in-person physiotherapy clinic, we give you a rehabilitation exercise routine to improve stability, strength and overall healing. Depending on your progress, we adjust this routine as time goes on, using the variables listed above. Our goal is to help you recover as efficiently and safely as possible.