February 7, 2014

Progressive Overload Principle

423205_10150519608501044_628206043_9237805_1696918358_nA common goal for any strength-training program is to increase or at least maintain the user’s physical strength or muscle mass. In order to achieve new results, as opposed to maintaining the current strength capacity, the muscles need to be overloaded, which stimulates the natural adaptive processes of the human body, which develops to cope with the new demands placed on it.

Progressive overload not only stimulates muscle hypertrophy, it also stimulates the development of stronger and denser bones, ligaments, tendons and cartilage. Progressive overload also incrementally increases blood flow to the region of the body. Furthermore, progressive overload stimulates the development of more responsive nerve connection between the brain and the muscles involved.

In order to minimize injury and maximize results, the novice begins at a comfortable level of muscular intensity and advances towards overload of the muscles over the course of the exercise program. Progressive overload requires a gradual increase in volume, intensity, frequency or time in order to achieve the targeted goal of the user. In this context, volume and intensity are defined as follows:

  • Volume is the total number of repetitions multiplied by the resistance used as performed in specific periods of time.
  • Intensity is the percent value of maximal functional capacity, or expressed as percent repetition maximum.

This technique results in greater gains in physical strength and muscular growth, but there are limits. An excess of training stimuli can lead to the problem of over training.

  • Over training is the decline in training performance over the course of a training program, often resulting increases the risk of illness or injury or decreased desire to exercise. In order to help avoid this problem, the technique of periodization is applied.
  • Periodization in the context of fitness or strength training programs is the scheduling of provisions for adequate recovery time between training sessions, variety over the course of a long-term program and motivation – avoiding monotony when repeating identical exercise routines. (Not a problem in CrossFit)
  • · Remember that Strength and speed are separate concepts requiring weight training with different percentages of maximum as follows:
  • 80 – 95 percent of max — speed and strength developed together
  • 50 – 80 percent of max — speed is developed more than strength
  • 95 percent and higher — only strength is developed

According to Soviet theory, while speed is King, strength is the basic component of fitness in all sports. It forms the basis for acquiring all other fitness aspects, and the strength requirements of each sport are unique.

Eccentric training never caught on in the Soviet Union, according to Dr. Verkoshansky, because it does not force adaptation in ligaments and tendons — only speed-strength training (lifting the weight fast — max effort, accelerating the weight with inertia assisting) can do that.

As your competition draws nearer and nearer, your training objectives change, and therefore your training methods change commensurably.

Having listed these recovery and training facts, it’s clear as to why you must divide your training into periods. Here then are some of the important basics regarding the theory behind the need to periodize your training:

  • Planned training must bring you to peak form at a pre-determined date (e.g., a competition).
  • Planning should make the process and end result of your training less haphazard and more predictable.
  • The training methods you employ must be systematically ordered such that each “period” of training gets your body and mind ready for the next period — a foundational approach.
  • As your competition draws nearer and nearer, your training objectives change, and therefore your training methods change commensurably. For example, it is wise to establish a foundation of limit strength first so that your speed training can be accomplished safely.

So the above information is relevant because at the end of the day CrossFit is a sport you prepare for, and while you may not know what the WOD will contain, you do know that Olympic Weightlifting is part of CrossFit. To become a better CrossFit athlete you must do Olympic Weightlifting and to get better and stronger at Olympic lifting the principles of progressive overload, periodizaton and Prilipen’s chart are absolutely necessary. The off-season and in-season training programs for your CrossFit competitions must be charted and must be planned very carefully. It is necessary and doable with the above principles even if you have to hybrid the lifting program to fit CrossFits demand of being prepared for the unknowable. Again the CrossFit competitions WODs may be unknowable but your Olympic Weightlifting training for CrossFit competitions doesn’t have to be and honestly shouldn’t be.

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