Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays
Progressive strength training is an ancient training concept with origins in southern Italy, about 500 B.C., by a man named Milo. People before him had exercised by lifting heavy objects, but historians credit Milo as the first to really figure out the progressive method of strength training.
in a Nutshell
What Milo did was shoulder a small calf one day and carry it the length of the stadium at Olympia. The story goes that he continued carrying the animal regularly until it was full-grown. Thus Milo got progressively stronger as the animal got progressively heavier.
Once you understand the story of Milo, you understand the foundation of all progressive resistance training, a.k.a. weight training, pumping iron, and so forth.
In my beginners’ training protocol, novices are started off with
straight-line resistance progression. It works like this: The beginner does an exercise with a comfortable weight for, say, 12 repetitions. At each subsequent workout, one repetition is added. When 15 repetitions are reached, a little more weight is added at the next workout, but the repetitions drop back to 12. Then you keep repeating the sequence.
Of course straight-line progression cannot go on forever. But the idea is to continue the straight-line approach for as long as you can. When it gets tougher to keep adding weight or reps, you now have to give your body more time to adjust to greater demand by staying with the same weight and reps for two or three consecutive workouts. Then you move up again in resistance or reps.
Eventually everyone reaches a time when adding either more weight or more reps seems next to impossible. Weight trainers may call it a “sticking point” or reaching a “plateau.” Getting past sticking points or plateaus requires other tricks of the
trade. For now, let’s stay with ways to use a progression of some kind, besides adding reps to a set or weight to a barbell. You may also . . .
- Add sets: If you have been doing, say, three sets of 12 reps, add another set and do four. Keep in mind, though, if too many sets are added, over-training is likely. Think it through: if you find you are not recovering (e.g. you’re still tired after a night’s sleep), you may be overdoing it. So ease up.
- Another method is to take shorter rests between sets: Suppose you are resting 90 seconds between sets. Cutting rest time in 10-second increments is also a form of progression.
Remember too that resistance progression is not exclusive to using free weights. The same principles can be applied when using exercise machines, resistance bands, or doing bodyweight calisthenics.
Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays to all.
Stay Healthy. Stay Fit.
Senior Exercise Central
My Photographs: Subscribers ask when the newsletter photo at the top and my website pictures were taken. I’m 86 years old. The photos were taken when I was a mere 70. Though I remain active, I am no longer nearly as muscular as I was 16 years ago. —LF
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The Gray Iron Fitness Newsletter is a free publication sent twice monthly to subscribers. The purpose is to provide honest and realistic fitness information for people age 50 and above.
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