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The Gray Iron Fitness Newsletter, Issue #197. Milo had it figured out.
February 15, 2017

February 15, 2017

In this newsletter . . .

Who Was Milo?

The word "progressive," as I’ll use it here, has nothing to do with politics. It has everything to do with working out. Progression is an ancient training concept that has its origins in southern Italy in 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 one to really figure out the progressive part of training.

What Milo did one day was shoulder a small calf and carry it the length of the stadium at Olympia. The story goes that he continued regularly carrying the animal 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 a 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 and the repetitions drop back to 12. And you keep repeating the sequence.

Of course straight-line progression cannot go on forever. But the idea is to continue the standard approach as long as you can. When it gets tougher to keep adding weight or reps, you then give your body more time to adjust to the greater demand by staying with the same weight and reps for two or three consecutive workouts, before moving up in resistance or reps.

Of course everyone eventually reaches a time when adding more weight or reps seems next to impossible. Weight trainers call it a “sticking point” or reaching a “plateau.” Getting past sticking points requires other tricks of the trade. For now, let’s stay with ways to use progression.

Besides adding reps and then weight, you can also use progression in other ways, such as the following:

  • Add sets: If you have been doing, say, three sets of 10 reps, add a set and do four. Keep in mind, though, if too many sets are added over-training is possible. Think it through, and if you find you are not recovering (e.g. you’re still tired after a night’s sleep), you may be overdoing it.

  • 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.

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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.

I have never been paid or received compensation of any kind to write a positive review or endorse a product. If I say that I personally use a product or service, it is because I find value in it and have paid for it with my own money.

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The newsletter and web site provide information to help users establish and maintain a fitness lifestyle. But fitness information is not the same as fitness advice, which is the application of exercise and dietary practices to an individual's specific circumstances. Therefore, always consult with your physician for assurance that fitness information, and your interpretation of it, is appropriate for you.

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Logan Franklin
The Gray Iron Fitness Newsletter

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