Whether you're a bonefide gym rat who spends hours each week pumping iron, or you're a fan of bootcamp or Crossfit style workouts - you've likely heard the term progressive loading weight lifting. There's about as many descriptions for exercises and muscle building theories as there are personal trainers and fitness "experts" themselves! Let's review the basics of Progressive Loading along with some examples.
Progressive Loading Weight Lifting refers to the concept of systematically increasing or loading additional resistance with that particular exercise. Why does it matter? You already probably understand the concept that if you want to build muscle you have to constantly be challenging that muscle. Your body will naturally adapt to it's environment regardless of what you do or don't do. The same concept applies to weight lifting. Eventually you will hit a plateau where you stop seeing improvements in muscle growth or muscle mass. There are numerous opinions about when this happens, why this happens, and how to combat it... but we're not discussing that here. Progressive Loading Weight Lifting refers to the idea of continuing to push your muscle to achieve maximum results. If you're a crossfit workout fan you're probably familiar with this terminology and if not you're probably doing it anyway and it popular with circuit training as well. Strength Training using Weights (i.e. weightlifting) When working with free weights, progressive loading is fairly simple. As you see strength gain and begin to reach muscle failure later - it's time to up the weight! Grab a pair of the best crossfit gloves ... and the next higher set of dumbbells or throw another plate on the bar. Bodyweight Training Strength training and gaining muscle mass can be achieved without weights as well. Bodyweight training involves using the weight of your body (and gravity) to add resistance to the exercise you're performing. Progressive loading with body weight exercises is a bit more complicated. Let's use chest exercises as an example. If you're goal is to build chest, the often overlooked Push Up can help you bust through your plateau. Again if you're at your local crossfit box or gym the push up is no stranger to you! 1. First, make sure you master the basics. Proper form for push ups is key. If you're unable to complete a full set of push ups, begin with an incline push up. 2. Progressive loading means you want to increase the resistance on you body. The next step using our push ups example would be a decline pushup. Place your feet on a bench or ledge so that they are elevated above your butt / upper body. 3. Making the push up even more difficult, if you wanted to progressively load even more resistance, you could try the handstand push up. This will likely be the toughest variation, and I suggest you have a workout partner or spotter around to keep you steady. Don't under estimate bodyweight exercises if your goal is to build muscle! Remember, progressive loading doesn't have to always mean slapping more iron on!