Heavy Metal | Testing Your Comfort Zones During Weight Training

If you have ever trained with a personal trainer or attended a group class, there is a good chance the instructor has pushed you to do a weight that was a little outside your comfort zone. Maybe you were open to it, or you were against going heavy with the assumption it was too heavy or that there would be no benefit of going heavier with the lift. Most likely if the trainer is increasing your weight on a specific exercise that you are accustomed too, the trainer is practicing progressive overload to help you reach new adaptations. The goal of weight training, is to expose the body to a load that you are not accustomed to, to hopefully allow your body to adapt to this new load.

When performing a weight resisted exercise ,the load should be a challenge that you haven’t done before. Once the body is accustomed to this load and fatigue isn’t a issue, it could be time to increase the load. If the load is not increased to compensate for the fact that your body has now adapted to that specific load and reps, your strength and muscular gains will slow down and you will hit a plateau. In order to continue seeing fitness results, one must use the progressive overload principle to expose the body to a load it isn’t accustomed to in order to keep the gains going. This will mean using a heavier weight, or increasing the reps and sets with the same load in order to challenge the body so it can once again adapt.

If you are able to squeeze out an extra two reps at the end of the set compared to your normal rep scheme, it could be time to change the load to enhance your fitness goals. Do not rush through progressive overload, follow a systematic approach that allows you to gradually increase the load on the bar. Track your workouts by writing down the reps, sets and loads, and compare each week.

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