Overload is the principle of physical fitness that describes how to get stronger, faster, leaner, or more
mobile. First, you stress the body. For example, if you are looking to build leg strength, you might hit a
set of 10 barbell back squats at 100 pounds. Then, you add more stress to the body after it has
sufficiently recovered from the first stressor. In keeping with the same example, you might hit 2 sets of
10 barbell back squats at 100 pounds, 3 days after the initial workout. In this way, becoming fit is a
never-ending, progressively more difficult journey of stressing the body (a good kind of stress, refer to
my article on allostatic load if you are confused) and letting it recover. This is why the principle of
overload is sometimes referred to as the principle of “progressive overload”.
At Crux Fitness Richmond Gym, we aim to push our clients every single day in accordance with the principle
of overload. In any given workout, client A might be lifting 200 pounds or running on the treadmill at 12
miles/hour, while client B is doing bodyweight exercises and walking on the treadmill. But I guarantee
that both clients are putting in the same level of effort; our trainers keep an eye out for things like
breathing rate, heart rate, and other body language clues to make sure that the workout is (subjectively)
equal in intensity. The workout needs to be sufficiently difficult in order to overload the system. If not,
nothing will change.
So please, be consistent, be determined, but seek out support when you need it. Before you know it,
you can be like client A as well: Strong and lean, with a seemingly endless gas tank! It just takes
hundreds of hours of progressively overloading the body. And if anybody tries to tell you otherwise, and
that there is some sort of secret or shortcut to getting fit, they are without a doubt a snake-oil salesman.
Pat Koo – Personal Trainer at Crux Fitness Richmond