Progressive Overload and PR's
By Eric Troy
Progressive Overload is one heck of an over-used piece of jargon. It seems to be a required component of most strength training articles but nobody seems to have a clear idea of how the general concept really extends itself to all the various things we do within a training career. It's so damned vague it's meaningless. Basically, it means "progressively doing more" and this means more quantity of some training parameter. Big deal, Captain Obvious. Hardly the base of a Nobel Prize winning article. The term reminds me of the Lenny Bruce or George Carlin thing of repeating a word until it loses all impact and meaning.
But one thing I do want to say about training for Maximal Strength is that applying more weight to your 1RM in a lift, i.e. getting a PR, IS THE ULTIMATE GOAL. This is not the "progressive overload" it is the point. The progressive overload is in the training that leads to this achievement.
The reason I am saying this is because I am seeing this trend where people say "I am not going to chase PR's and obsess over numbers and progressive overload anymore." Well, I do not believe in chasing numbers, either. But the language tells the tale. Those who believe they have been chasing numbers probably had unrealistic expectations of getting PR's every week or something similar. When this fails to come to be the reality there is this mental backlash and they throw out the baby with the bathwater. Striving to achieve a goal is not "chasing" something because to chase something means that you are desperate. It's the desperation that needs to go, not the PR's. Realistic expectations, always.
However, if you are not regularly planning and attempting PR's in your lifting you are not doing maximum strength training. You may be bodybuilding or just "getting stronger" but the maximum part has a very specific meaning and the only way to express maximum strength is against a maximum load. So, I don't care what you are doing in your training, but do not tell people who are going for PR's that they are "chasing numbers."
"Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn't do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover."
"If you tell the truth, you don't have to remember anything."
"Never put off until tomorrow what you can do the day after tomorrow."