We get a lot of questions around how to improve performance and/or recovery to perform better. This includes things like:
Am I taking the right supplements?
Should I do active recovery workouts?
Would a chiropractor or cupping help?
Should I eat less on rest days?
What stretch can help with XYZ pain?
And although we love the focus on wanting to improve, a lot of times we are looking in the wrong areas. In order to maximize our recovery and, in turn, our performance, we must first look to our training. Just like you can’t out-train a bad diet, you cannot out-recover a poor training approach.
There is no amount of supplements, foam rolling, or active recovery that will help us if we are doing too much volume, or ineffective approaches of HIIT daily with no progressions to it.
If you are struggling to see progress with your training, if you are constantly sore, or if you aren’t seeing any change physically, then it may be time to take a step back and evaluate your training.
Your training program will obviously vary based on your goals of either strength, performance, aesthetics, or health, but in general, your program should include most of the following aspects:
Again, these are general, basic guidelines to create hypertrophy (aka muscle development), which is often most individuals’ goal. If you are not aware as to whether your program includes these, or if you know that it does not, and you are struggling to see progress - we recommend finding a coach or a strength-based program to help provide progressive overload.
Progressive overload is the key to progress - but what exactly is it and why does it work?
In order for us to create physical change, our training programming must disrupt the body’s homeostasis. In basic terms, to build muscle or change body-composition we must create an overload that disrupts the body’s equilibrium or ‘comfort zone’.
Your training must be hard, and believe it or not, when left to our own choices, most people do not challenge themselves enough in the gym to see change (SOURCE). Although if you apply the general guidelines of proper training and proper effort, you will see change.
The hardest part is, training has to get harder and harder to continue to be effective. Once an overload has been created, the body will adapt. So if we continue to do the same thing that first caused it to adapt, it will not create the same response and we will no longer see change. This is a conundrum, and where smart programming becomes necessary. Many people would think, ‘I just need more volume, or more workouts’, but this often leads to burnout, injury, or lack of progress.
So how do we implement progressive overload without injury? There are a few key elements that we consider and create variance with - intensity, volume, and frequency.
At any point in time, we can only push two out of three of these pieces of the puzzle hard. The beauty of effective programming is that you can continuously manipulate these three puzzle pieces over time and through different training phases to build different stimuluses and create change and progression.
If we have a training program in place, it is then left to us to make sure that we are getting the most out of it. If you can say that all of the boxes above are checked and you are implementing a lifting program that has progressive overloading, but still find yourself unhappy with the progress, then we can evaluate the following aspects to see if we are getting in our own way!
Things that hinder our progress:
How to improve our progress:
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