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clean up crew

Spring into action with 6 essential progressive resistance exercise techniques for strength training. 

So now that we are in the second quarter of the year, and you are crushing your fitness resolutions, let’s talk about how to clean things up and spring things to another level.

So what exactly is progressive resistance? 

Progressive resistance exercise is one of the best ways to get ongoing positive results from your workout. For the purpose of this article, resistance can be defined as an external load or force that is used against our bodies for the main purpose of causing muscle contraction. 

By utilizing resistance techniques in which the overload is consistently increased, you are able to facilitate adaptation. Performing the same exercise week after week will always cause a plateau. Our bodies will always adapt to an exercise that's repeated over and over; eventually, the continuation of this amount of exercise will only maintain your current fitness level. 

You see our bodies are smart; its number one goal is to keep us alive and functioning as efficiently as possible. So, to ensure that it achieves this goal it will do whatever is needed in order to adapt to its environment and the stimulus thrown its way. That being said, in order to see ongoing training benefits, the load placed on our bodies with exercise must continue to increase as our bodies adapt to the current load. In other words YOUR BODY WILL NOT CHANGE UNLESS YOU FORCE IT TO! 

All this to say, if you lift the same weights, for the same amount of reps, the exact same way for the next 10 years of your life, no matter how perfect or how skilled, nothing will ever change. It doesn’t matter what your goal is or what type of exercise/ workout you are doing. 

Progressive resistance is essential when we are looking at, burning more calories there by an increase in fat loss, building muscle and getting stronger. The resistance against our bodies, with a loading source such as weights, needs to be cautiously and steadily increased, balanced with, strength increases as the training exercise advances.  

Clean things up, and hit those goals with this crew of techniques:

1. Increase the weight you're lifting

Increase the weight you're lifting; continue with the same number of repetitions and sets each week, however increase the weight you are lifting. The weight should increase by 2% of you repetition maximum load at a time. 

*A repetition maximum also known as an “RM” is the most weight you can lift for a defined number of exercise movements. It is a good measure of your current strength level as you follow your training program. For example, if you can lift 50 pounds once, you should only increase the weight you lift with each rep by 2 to 5 pounds each week. You don't want to overdo the increase in the load at risk of injury. 

2. Increase the number of repetitions

Increase the number of repetitions; continue with the same weight for each workout; however increase the repetitions each week. Lift 70 -80% of your RM for 8-15 reps of 1-3sets with a 30-90secs rest period. This technique works well for those looking to drop some pounds. 

3. Decrease the number of repetitions

Decrease the number of repetitions; and lift heavier weights. Decreasing the repetitions will conserve your power to increase the weight. This technique requires an increased rest period between sets. Lifting 85% of your RM for 1- 6 reps for 2-6 sets, with a longer rest period of 2 -5 minuets. 

4. Increase the number of sets

Increase the number of sets; a technique generally used when there is a weight lose goal.  It typically involves 4-6 sets of each exercise. Beginners may find that 1-2 sets may be enough to build strength and endurance, eventually working your way up to 2-4 sets. Rest periods at about 20 seconds to 60 seconds, depending on how heavy your load is. 

5. Shorten the rest between the sets

Shorten the rest between the sets; a great way to challenge your body and increase the intensity. This technique is generally used with body weight exercises or band work. For example: five sets of pushups, you'll typically have a rest of about 10- 60secs between sets. It is important to keep your form in check. If you find your form is suffering, increase the rest period or drop the tension. 

6. Lengthen the time under tension

Lengthen the time under tension; using the same weight and repetitions, however slowing down the exercise it self.  For example: three counts to lift the weight, one count to lower the weight. This technique focuses on how long your muscle fibers are under stress, really working on strength and muscle development. 

Progression will not always be consistent. There will be a time when you will end up repeating the exact same number of sets/repetitions/load that you did in your previous workout. This may even continue for quiet some time with particular exercises. Don’t get discouraged. Continue to progress in some way as often as possible. Add a repetition to just one set, or increase the load on just one set. Gradually you will reach your target routine. This is all part of the progressive resistance process. Whether it happens every workout, or every few workouts, or perhaps even once per month (or less) depends so many individual factors specific to you and your goals.

As long as you’re forcing progressive resistance to take place in some form over time, your body will continue to build muscle, your strength will increase, your body will start to look the way you want it to, or you will see improvements in whatever you are trying to improve.

In my opinion it’s the lack of progressive resistance that is easily the biggest reason that most of the people who workout don’t see improvements in their goals. Not to mention they also look pretty much the same as they did when they first started working out. Of course, I do also believe that nutrition plays a major role in this, but that is a whole other topic. 

Lastly, listen to your body and remember any progress is always progress. Allow this crew of techniques to spring on a sense of challenge and change, and don’t forget to take a moment to remember where you started. 

SABRINA VIRDEE CPT, RHN 
@SABRINAVIRDEE
Looking to take your fitness to the next level? Book a call with Sabrina