Peach Club

Are you currently exercising and not seeing results? Do you feel like you’re trying really hard in the gym and just not getting anywhere with your physique? In this blog, I’m going to talk about how to make long term improvements to your body utilising weight training, without spinning your wheels or hitting plateaus.

If you want to make long-term physical changes to your body whether that being a change in body shape and tone, adding some lean muscle to look more athletic, or losing body fat the most important effective factor to utilise is resistance training (weight training to absolutely clear), keep reading to find out HOW to make and see the results you seek…

Training For Hypertrophy

If you are looking to make real changes to your body through weight training then you need to apply what’s called ‘Hypertrophy’ and this is achieved through what’s called ‘Progressive Overload’. These are basically scientific sounding terms for making progress with your weight training, over time. In this blog I’m going to explain exactly what those words mean, how you will benefit from them and how you can achieve them! There are a number of different ways to make progress over time and I’ll be covering a few of the more common methods that I use with my clients.

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What Is Hypertrophy?

To be all scientific for a minute, applying Hypertrophy simply means that your body is forced to adapt to extra stimuli of which it is being exposed to. In the case of lifting weights, your muscles are exposed to an increased workload (weights, reps and sets) your muscles in turn then break down and grow back with even more muscle fibres. The reason it grows back with more muscle fibres is so that it is able to deal with that level of workload should it need to again. That’s how we grow lean muscle mass and create body tone.

The important part to take note of from that explanation is that your muscles will repair themselves and recruit more fibres so that if they are required to undergo that workload again then they can. What that essentially means is that once that change has happened, if the workload stays the same time and time again and the stimuli doesn’t change (explained at the bottom of the blog) further physical changes will decrease. I often hear many people say that they exercise a lot but don’t see any physical changes to their body, this may be one of the reasons why!


What Is Progressive Overload?

Progressive Overload is another term used that refers to increasing the stimulus that your muscles are exposed to, and, there are a number of different ways to achieve this which we will come on to later. The key reason that Progressive Overload is so important is because it is necessary to make progress over time, without it then that simply isn’t possible. The plateaus that people encounter are usually in some way related to a lack of Progressive Overload whether that is because it hasn’t been factored into their program, they aren’t noting down what they do from workout to workout, they don’t understand how to make progress, or simply that they aren’t applying themselves fully.

If you imagine that you want to get really good at improving your cooking! If you keep making the same thing over and over again without trying anything new then you will get to a point in which you can do it with your eyes closed and it no longer challenges you. Think of Progressive Overload as a similar process, if you continue to do the same thing without making it slightly more difficult nothing will change. This would equate to changing the ingredients somehow, maybe making your own pastry instead of using shop bought, you get the idea. Eventually your cooking tekkers will improve, as will your physique if you apply the Progressive Overload principle.

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Why Do I Need Hypertrophy?

You need it to build lean muscle tone! Now don’t worry, that doesn’t mean you’ll be leaving the gym in 6 weeks time looking like the Incredible Hulk! Muscle takes up much less physical room than body fat so although it weighs more and at some point you might maintain or even gain weight, you will lose body fat, and those inches lost will take up less physical space. If you want to improve your physique whether that is growing your peach, dropping a couple of dress sizes, looking a bit more athletic or anything else the fact remains that you will need hypertrophy to get there!


How Do I make progress with Progressive Overload?

Before I cover some of the different ways to achieve Progressive Overload it’s VERY important to explain that it simply isn’t possible to improve consistently from session to session, the body doesn’t work like that. There will be days that you feel great and your training goes well! Conversely some days for some reason you won’t be feeling ‘it’ and the weights you normally do will feel much more difficult, both of which are very normal and can often be related to what’s going on outside of the gym (lack of sleep, under recovery, stress etc). The important thing is that you are progressing OVER TIME so even if session to session things don’t seem to be changing much, compare it to a few months prior and as long as over time the progress is there then you are doing things right! It just isn’t possible to make progress continuously and indefinitely otherwise everyone would be strong as an ox! If you were to plot it on a graph it would look something like the below with peaks and troughs. However the overall trend is an improvement which is amazing!

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Here’s how to achieve and apply Progressive Overload:

  1. Increasing the weight that you use for a certain exercise for example last week you managed to complete 8 squats with 20KG, this week you might try 8 squats with 22.5KG.

  2. Increasing the number of reps that you complete, for example you managed to do Bench Press for 3 sets of 8 with 25kg last week, this week you try and achieve 3 sets of 10 at 25kg.

  3. Doing more sets with the same weight and number of reps, for example last week you did 3 sets 8 Deadlifts @ 50kg, this week you achieve 4 sets of 8 @ 50kg.

  4. Improving form and technique that you perform an exercise with. This will ensure that over time the target muscles are better utilised.

  5. Reducing the tempo or introducing a pause. For example if you are doing a bench press, you might slow down the lowering of the bar or implement a pause at the bottom to increase what’s called the ‘time under tension’.

  6. Reducing the amount of rest in-between your sets, for example if you traditionally have a 90 second rest between sets, reduce that to 60 seconds to increase your intensity.

  7. Improving the range of motion, for example at first you may only be able to complete a box squat at a certain height but once that becomes easy you can either lower the box or remove it completely to increase the range of motion.

  8. Completing the same workout in terms of weights and sets whilst losing weight. If you are able to maintain the weights you can lift whilst reducing your overall bodyweight then the relative amount that you are lifting in comparison with your bodyweight is higher.

  9. Doing more workouts throughout the week for example, from x 2 days per week to x 3 days per week.

  10. Doing more ‘work’ in the same amount of time (think AMRAP) so for example, in 6 mins you complete 3 rounds of 5 press ups, 10 squats and 15 lunges, 2 weeks later you are able to complete 4 rounds⁣.

These are just some of the ways that you can apply and achieve Progressive Overload but the best way is to make sure that you are following a great program that you can record, that changes every so often but keeps similar exercises so you are able to make improvements. If you feel you need support with that kind of programming then why not consider joining Peach Club? You’ll get programming every 6 weeks specifically designed to help you achieve Progressive Overload and it costs less than one average PT session!

About the author : Angi Pilika

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