One of the questions I am frequently asked is how did I increase my strength and muscle size within such a short period of time. My answer? Progressive overload, programming and eating enough.
Unfortunately, going to the gym week in, week out, and moving the exact same weight, for the exact same reps, will not change your physique.
This is because your training sessions will no longer be challenging. Your body will adapt to that style of training; therefore, your muscle tissue will not continue to tear, resulting in minimal, or in some cases no muscle growth (also known as a plateau). The best way to avoid a plateau is to implement something called progressive overload.
Progressive overload is the continuous increase of demand on the muscular system. Essentially, to improve your muscle strength, size and endurance you must somehow be challenging yourself each week. There are many ways to do this, including reps, volume, rest time and training frequency. However, the most common is the gradual increase in resistance.
For example, say you have been training for a few years doing similar workouts with the same exercises/weight, you saw some progress in the first few months, but now you are experiencing a complete stall in results. The best thing to do? Introduce progressive overload. Get yourself a way of tracking your workouts, whether it be a notepad, or even just notes on your phone.
Each week, write down what you did (exercises, weight, reps and rest time), with the intention to improve on that each week.
If you are looking to build strength, then I would strongly suggest concentrating on the compound movements (squat, bench press, deadlift and overhead press). Ensure you are doing at least one of these at the start of every workout, with the intention of progression. One week you may squat 35kg for 8 reps, the following week, aim to squat 37.5kg for 8 reps. Sounds simple, but it is very often overlooked.
If you want to improve upon both strength and your physique, it is essential you are pushing yourself every single workout. Although it is unrealistic to increase the weight on the bar every single week, you must go into the gym with the intention to progress.
Body building and resistance training is about TOUGH workouts, it’s about pushing yourself to the absolute limit to see what you can truly achieve.
Get yourself a program. Whether this is a simple one made by yourself, or one that you have invested some money into written by a fitness professional. It will not only give you accountability and guidance, it will also allow you to keep progressing.
Do not mistake “overloading” for “over training” whereby you can often increase the risk of injury or even decrease the desire to want to train. To avoid this, it is important to consider a periodisation plan or introduce a “de-load” period into your training programme.
Another element of training and exercise that is often overlooked, is fuel. Yep, ensuring that you are actually eating enough food to increase your strength and grow your muscles. It is all well and good training like a beast, but if you are not eating enough to feed your muscles, they simply will not grow.
Ensure you are accounting for the hard work you are doing in the gym by cooking healthy and nutritional meals. Fuel your body before your workout with a good source of carbohydrates, and repair your muscles after with a good source of protein, it will make a huge difference to your progress.
Lots of love and happy lifting
Georgie – x
Needing a little motivation? Check out how Flora Beverley keeps active in the Winter months here.