Do you want to lose weight? Your workout should get harder every week. Do you want to build muscle? Your workout should get harder every week. Do you want to keep improving your fitness, athleticism, be actively functional into your later years? Your workout should get harder every week.
But why exactly should your workout get harder every week? That is what Mike Israetel talked about in a recent video. Dr Mike Israetel, PhD in Sport Physiology and co-founder of Renaissance Periodization, is a well-respected professor in the bodybuilding community.
Engaging in regular exercise offers a myriad of physical and mental benefits. On the physical front, workouts contribute to improved cardiovascular health, enhanced muscle strength, and flexibility. Weight management becomes more attainable, reducing the risk of chronic conditions like heart disease and diabetes.
Additionally, the release of endorphins during exercise acts as a natural mood booster, alleviating stress and promoting better sleep. Beyond the physical, the discipline and routine of regular workouts foster mental resilience, sharpen cognitive function, and boost overall well-being. The holistic impact of working out extends far beyond mere physical fitness, creating a positive ripple effect in various facets of life.
However, if you are working out the same thing over and over and over again, not challenging your body enough, you will hit a plateau. And even if you are going to the gym every day, but still doing the same exercise and the same intensity, you simply won’t see any progress and stall.
And the idea of going to the gym, running, moving and stretching is about improving your body’s capabilities no? So that is, ultimately, why your workout should get harder every week.
But let’s not get ahead of ourselves. See below in detail how Mike Israetel explained why your workout should get harder every week, how to do it and some analogies to better understand it.
Why Your Workout Should Get Harder Every Week
Embarking on a new training program is akin to starting a new chapter in your fitness journey. As you delve into the intricacies of mesocycles and the nuances of weekly progressions, the question that looms large is, why should your workout intensity escalate with each passing week?
At the outset, there’s a school of thought advocating a cautious approach. Some argue that maintaining a consistent effort, say two reps in reserve, week after week is sufficient. On the other end of the spectrum, there are proponents of an all-out, max-effort approach every single week. However, I propose a middle ground—a gradual ramp-up backed by sound scientific reasoning and a touch of absurdity.
When initiating a mesocycle, the first week is pivotal. Coming off a deload, there’s no need to hit failure right away. Starting with around three reps in reserve strikes a balance between stimulus and recovery. The novelty of new exercises and adjusted parameters ensures ample stimulation without going all out.
Now, the crux lies in the progression. Why not stick to the comfortable three reps in reserve throughout? The answer lies in the delicate balance of challenge and adaptation. Incrementally pushing the envelope, be it through added repetitions or increased load, prevents complacency and ensures you’re not inadvertently sandbagging your efforts.
Picture this as a language learning app. You don’t repeat the same phrase week after week and expect fluency. Similarly, your workouts need to evolve, becoming incrementally more challenging. It’s a gradual climb from three reps in reserve to zero, signalling your journey towards pushing your limits.
As you approach the culmination of a mesocycle, there’s merit in going all out, especially on exercises that won’t jeopardize your well-being. Why? The theoretical gains from pushing boundaries extend beyond conventional training benefits. It’s a level beyond, a test of your true capabilities.
Consider it a litmus test for progress. If last cycle’s 200-pound squat for 12 reps now sits at 210 pounds, pushing to failure ensures an apples-to-apples comparison of your strength gains. It’s about ensuring you’re not deceiving yourself about your progress or overlooking potential areas for improvement.
And what about that last week or the second half of it? There’s a case for a no-holds-barred approach. The impending deload provides a safety net, allowing you to push to failure without the usual concerns. It’s akin to going all out in Vegas the night before a long flight back—it’s permissible because recovery is imminent.
In essence, the unified theme is progression. Start easy, progressively intensify, and culminate on a high note. It’s a delicate dance between exertion and adaptation. Pushing boundaries intermittently, even towards failure, ensures you’re on the right track.
As with any analogy, there’s a caveat. If a certain exercise proves consistently effective, there’s no need to force a radical change. Don’t fix what isn’t broken. Perfect training doesn’t always demand cherry on top—sometimes, letting perfection be is the wisest choice.
So, as you navigate the ebb and flow of your training cycles, remember the rhythm—start easy, find your groove, and crescendo into a powerful finale. Your body craves the challenge, and smart progression ensures you meet its demands head-on. After all, in the symphony of fitness, every note counts.
To see all this information in video format, and with the famous acid humour from Mike Israetel himself, simply watch the video below.
Progressive overload is a fundamental principle in exercise science that forms the backbone of effective training programs. It revolves around the idea of gradually increasing the demands placed on the body to elicit continuous improvements in strength, endurance, and overall fitness. This systematic escalation of intensity can be achieved by progressively increasing the amount of weight lifted, the number of repetitions performed, or the overall volume of the workout over time. By consistently challenging the body in this manner, individuals can stimulate muscle adaptation and growth, preventing plateaus in performance.
The concept of progressive overload is closely linked to the body’s ability to adapt to stress. As the body encounters increased resistance during workouts, it responds by becoming stronger and more resilient. This adaptation involves the recruitment of additional muscle fibers, improvements in neuromuscular coordination, and enhanced energy system efficiency. Over time, what was initially challenging becomes the new baseline, necessitating further progression to sustain growth and development. This principle is applicable to various forms of exercise, from weightlifting and resistance training to cardiovascular activities, ensuring that individuals continue to experience positive physiological adaptations with ongoing commitment to their fitness journey.
Implementing progressive overload requires a balanced approach, considering individual fitness levels, proper technique, and recovery. It is not solely about pushing to the absolute limits in every session but rather about strategic and sustainable advancement. A well-designed training program incorporates periods of intensity progression interspersed with adequate recovery to optimize performance gains while minimizing the risk of overtraining or injury. Ultimately, progressive overload is a dynamic and personalized strategy that empowers individuals to consistently enhance their physical capabilities and achieve long-term fitness goals.
Some key benefits to doing strength training are:
- Builds muscle: Strength training is an effective way to build and maintain muscle mass. This can help increase your metabolism, which can help you burn more calories throughout the day.
- Increases strength and endurance: By challenging your muscles with resistance exercises, you can increase your strength and endurance, which can make it easier to perform daily tasks and activities.
- Reduces the risk of injury: Strong muscles and joints are less likely to be injured during physical activity, which can help reduce your risk of injury and improve your overall physical performance.
- Improves bone density: Strength training has been shown to increase bone density, which can help reduce the risk of osteoporosis and fractures.
- Enhances overall physical performance: Strength training can improve your overall physical performance, whether you’re an athlete looking to improve your performance in a specific sport, or just looking to perform daily tasks with more ease.
- Boosts confidence and self-esteem: As you see progress and improvements in your strength and physical abilities, it can boost your confidence and self-esteem.
- Improves quality of life: Strength training can improve your overall quality of life by making it easier to perform daily tasks, reducing the risk of injury, and improving your overall physical health and well-being.
Overall, incorporating strength training into your fitness routine can have numerous benefits for your physical and mental health, and can help you live a happier, healthier, and more active lifestyle.