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Movement Challenge Day 21 – Progression Is Key

🎯 Today’s Mission:

To successfully complete today’s mission:

  • ✅ Identify at least one way that you can apply progressive overload to your workouts and improve your fitness.
  • Complete the form at the bottom of the page when done.

💡 More Info:

When it comes to improving your fitness, there are many different ways to make progress.

However, the single most important thing is something called progressive overload.

It’s kind of like that story from the movie Holes, where Elya Yelnats carried a pig up the mountain every single day. Each day the pig grew bigger and fatter while Elya grew bigger and stronger. His body constantly had to carry a heavier and heavier load, so he grew stronger and stronger.

Without progressive overload, even the best workouts and most optimal exercises can produce little to no significant progress.

👨‍🏫 Progressive Overload Explained:

Progressive overload is the gradual increase of stress placed upon the body during exercise.

It’s a way for you to continuously challenge yourself so that you can continuously make progress.

This is an extremely important concept because the body does not like change.

If you don’t increase the demands that you place upon your body, you won’t get the results that you want.

By gradually and continuously increasing the stress that you place upon your body, you trigger its natural response to adapt and survive so that it can better handle that stress (or worse) next time.

In the case of strength training and exercise in general, this usually means that:

  • Our muscles grow bigger and stronger.
  • Our overall physical performance increases.
  • Our cardiovascular capacity improves.
  • Our bodies can better resist physical stress and fatigue.

All these adaptations allow us to better achieve other goals too, such as:

  • Increased fat loss.
  • Improved health, energy, and wellbeing.
  • Reduced chance of injury.

All of which, ultimately translates into things like:

  • Feeling fitter, sexier, and more confident.
  • Having more energy to go out and live the life you want.
  • Being strong and able enough to play with your grandkids.
  • Feeling more powerful and in control of your life.
  • Growing your wellbeing, and so much more.

Before you get too excited and carried away, know that just because “more” is good does not mean “much more” is better.

You’re not superhuman… If you apply too much stress too quickly to your body then it will spend all its resources recovering but not adapting and improving. If you push too hard, you may even get sick or injured.

In fact, as you progress the physical stress that you place upon your body, you will likely need to similarly progress the amount of rest and recovery that you give your body too.

🤔 Still Don’t Get Progressive Overload?

We know that the concepts of “stress” and “adaptation” can sound a bit overwhelming at first.

Keep in mind that stress is simply something that helps you rise to meet a challenge, whether good or bad.

Let’s look at a more familiar analogy:

Imagine you repeated Grade 1 at school, over and over again, for 12 years rather than progressing from Grade 1, to Grade 2, to Grade 3, through to Grade 12.

Sure, you might get really good at doing Grade 1 stuff. You may even pick up one or two new things each time you repeat the process, but you wouldn’t learn all that much.

You wouldn’t feel stimulated and you wouldn’t get the intellectual or educational results that you want.

This is exactly why our education system progresses over the years. We challenge ourselves with new information and then once it becomes familiar or understood, we progress on to the next challenge.

Similarly, imagine you repeated the same workout at the gym, over and over again, for 12 months rather than progressing from month to month (or even week to week) with a more difficult workout.

You simply wouldn’t get the same level of physical conditioning.

Sure, you might get really good at doing your workout. You may even make a little bit of progress here and there as your technique improves and the exercises become more familiar, but you certainly wouldn’t progress that much.

Your body wouldn’t be stimulated to adapt and you wouldn’t get the results that you want.

👌 Keep It Simple, Keep It Consistent:

The concept of continuously trying to progress sounds simple enough, but very few people actually do it consistently.

Instead, what usually happens is they end up:

  • Being inconsistent with their training (skipping workouts).
  • Being haphazard with their training (constantly hopping from one program to another).
  • Favouring novelty with programs that are designed to “keep your body guessing” or to “mix things up”.

The secrets to sustained success and growing your wellbeing are pretty boring and un-sexy: Keep it simple, be consistent, and focus on doing the fundamental basics really well.

🧱 Different Ways To Progress:

Each form of exercise has its own way to progress.

However, for demonstration purposes, here are some ways that you might progress your workout in the gym using machines, weights, or bodyweight:

  • FORM: This means really focusing on doing the exercise properly and safely, even if it means using less weight or doing less reps. This is the most important form of progression for long-term results and sustainability as it will help you avoid getting injured and better target the correct muscles.
  • WEIGHT: This means increasing the amount of weight (load / resistance) that you use for an exercise.
  • REPS: This means increasing the number of reps that you do.
  • SETS: This means increasing the number of sets that you do.
  • DENSITY: This increasing the amount of exercise that you do in a given amount of time (or more commonly, decreasing the amount of time that you take to do an exercise). This could be done by performing the reps quicker or decreasing rest time in between sets.
  • TIME UNDER TENSION (TUT): This means slowing the tempo at which you perform the exercise so that you spend more time under the tension of the weight.
  • RANGE OF MOTION: This means increasing the range in which move the weight. Most of the time, this means improving your form as mentioned above, but it could also mean artificially increasing the amount of range that can be performed with the motion. Note: “More” is not always better.
  • EQUIPMENT: This means progressing to a more difficult exercise variation with a more challenging piece of equipment AND / OR doing an exercise variation that you are less familiar at doing.
  • INTENSITY: This is a more advanced technique that involves increasing the intensity of your effort on an exercise. This can be measured by using a scale of 1-10 for Rate of Perceived Exhausted (RPE).
RPE SCALEBASED ON REPETITIONS IN RESERVE (RIR):
10Could not do any more reps (muscular failure).
9.5Could maybe do 1 more rep.
9Could do 1 more rep (a good place to end your last working set).
8.5Could maybe do 2 more reps.
8Could do 2 more reps.
7.5Could maybe do 3 more reps.
7Could do 3 more reps (a good place to begin your first working set).
5-6Could do 4-6 more reps (a good warm-up weight).
1-4Very easy, hardly any effort required (very easy warm-up weight).
  • VOLUME: This is a more advanced technique that is calculated by multiplying your Reps and Sets to get the Total Volume of Reps performed.
  • Frequency: This is a more advanced technique that involves increasing how often you perform an exercise (or how often you exercise a muscle group / perform a movement pattern) across the week.

✅ Mission Accomplished?

Fill in the form below once you’re done to keep track of your progress.

Which day of the challenge have you completed?
Name(Required)
Used to automatically email you a copy of your mission submission so that you can keep track of which missions you have completed.
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