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Overload

Time and time again we read, or even hear from our peers, “you have to do more, to lose more”. In other words, if you’re not making your exercise harder (i.e. increasing weight with resistance or longer duration/mileage for aerobic) you will not get consistent weight loss results. Overload, defined as the manipulation of frequency, intensity, or duration of exercise (Plowman & Smith, 2013), is in fact one of the most important principles for any type of resistance training or aerobic exercise, and if followed correctly will assure consistent weight loss results. However, what is too often ignored are the different types of overload that can be introduced to increase specifically intensity.

Primarily, people tend to gravitate towards an increase in weight to increase the acute intensity of their resistance training. More simply, they move from the 10 to 20 lbs for let’s say a dumbbell squat. While this falls within the umbrella of overload, as it causes an increase of intensity, often other factors of intensity are too often ignored. These factors include, but are not limited to; stability, recovery between sets, changing grips or stance, unilateral exercise, ordering of your exercises, or timing of your repetitions. All of the aforementioned adjustments to your resistance programming can be utilized to achieve the similar overload results of increasing weight.

As a result of using a variety of factors for intensity overload, you create a much wider array of programming and prevent your routine from becoming “stale”. Not that you cannot ever perform the same workout, this tends to drive people to failure as it increases the effort and planning stage for every workout. However more applicable, would be taking these suggested changes and adding them to your current strength training routine, to assist with overload and provide variety.

Whenever starting a resistance training program you should consult with a professional to either assist with programming optimal overload, or seeking their services to help you overload SAFELY and also EFFECTIVELY.


Plowman, S. A., & Smith, D. L. (2013). Exercise physiology for health fitness and performance. Lippincott Williams & Wilkins.