What is The Overload Principle in strength training, and why should you care? The overload principle is a fact of strength training, and you probably want to pay close attention, because it can be harnessed to deliver bigger, better and faster results. Basically stated, the overload principle says that your body cannot be adapted the way you want unless it is overloaded.
The American College of Sports Medicine, without using a bunch of fancy medical terms, explains simply that this means your muscles must be stimulated to greater than normal activity if they are to grow. When you properly apply the correct amount of muscle overload, you begin to see results far more rapidly. In addition, they last for the long term, where in the past you may have felt that you were simply wasting time with your strength-training workout.
While you may not have thought that scientific concepts and formulas were at the basis of proper strength training, whether you are aware of what is going on or not inside your body, your muscles understand and respond properly when the overload principle is applied correctly. And the good news is that whether you are a beginner or veteran weightlifter or strength trainer, you can increase muscle size, bulk and power by incorporating an ongoing overload formula into your strength training regimen.
This is great news to those of you who are just beginning strength training. If you have a sedentary lifestyle, and begin overloading your muscles, you will begin to see the desired results quickly. If you are not used to lifting 10 pounds very often, then lifting 10 or 15 pounds with only a couple of weightlifting sessions a week will begin to show improved muscle definition and strength almost immediately.
The National Strength and Conditioning Association points out that while the overload principle works for veterans as well as beginners, it may take creative and progressive overload to see a dramatic improvement. If you have already begun to sculpt your body and you strength train regularly, you are going to have to increase the overall load your body lifts in your workouts to benefit from this body adapting fact.
Experienced weightlifters and strength trainers can shorten the amount of time spent resting between sets and increase reps and sets to harness the power of this principle. Just remember, when you consistently and progressively increase the amount of weight, the repetitions per set, and the number of sets you perform in your strength training workout, you harness the incredible power of the overload principle, thereby improving muscle mass and strength.