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Progressive overload: Get stronger in a healthy way
Whenever you want to improve your exercise capacity, it’s important to understand progressive overload. Progressive overload means challenging your muscles and body by gradually increasing the stress put on them. For example, increasing weight lifting repetitions or the speed at which you run over the course of time. The idea is that you slightly push yourself — in a healthy way — with each workout, ultimately resulting in improved performance and strength.
Progressive overload uses
Progressive overload is most often used in strength training but can also be used for marathon training. The secret to long-term success and staying healthy is to gradually challenge yourself a as you progress with your exercise program. If you progress too quickly, it can have a negative impact on your performance and lead to injury, excess fatigue and even upper respiratory infections.
The 10 percent rule
Each person is different, and there’s no magic exercise formula for everyone. However, one of the most popular training philosophies is the 10 percent rule. The basic premise is to not increase your running mileage more than 10 percent per week. This rule usually works well for young, healthy, moderately trained athletes. If you’re older, have orthopedic issues, are recovering from an injury or have other health issues, the 10 percent rule may be too much. Consult your health care provider or an exercise specialist if you have concerns.
Gain without pain
Proper exercise training should reduce your chance of injury, increase your energy and generally help you feel good. If this isn’t the case, you might be overtraining. Many people still have the “no pain, no gain” attitude, which can actually be quite harmful to your body. A good progressive overload program should have no pain and little or no muscle soreness.
Challenge yourself to get into better shape, do more and increase running mileage without much muscle soreness. Progressive overload and the 10 percent rule may turn out to be the right approach for you.Chip Gay is a clinical exercise specialist at Mayo Clinic Health System in Mankato.