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Basic Principles to Ensure Progress

  • Posted by Catherine Tumelty
  • 22 May 2017

I like to give my clients an analogy of a house being built in an earthquake zone. Let’s say an engineer constructs the house so that it can withstand a magnitude 6.5 earthquake (stay with me – I’m going somewhere with this). If a magnitude 6.7 earthquake strikes, the house will be severely damaged. In response the house should be rebuilt a little bit bigger and stronger than the previous one, so that it can withstand at least a magnitude 7.0 earthquake the next time. If a magnitude 7.3 earthquake hits, the house will again be damaged and so the cycle continues until the house is far bigger and stronger than it was originally.

This is the same basic principle as muscle physiology. You need to place enough stress on your musculoskeletal system so that the muscles are damaged to ensure that the body responds by laying down more and stronger muscle in place of the damaged muscle. We call this hypertrophy and this is how we get bigger muscles.

What a lot of people that attend the gym regularly don’t do is stress their muscles to the point that they will respond by growing back bigger and stronger. You have probably seen people around the gym for the last 12 months, or even longer, who appear to have made very little progress with their physical body (notice that I said physical body – what you don’t see are the improvements that the same person has made to their psychological body, their mental health, but that is another point for another time). The term that we use here is overload, and if you don’t overload your muscles they will not grow.


The same analogy is true of aerobic, or cardio, training. If you can run on the treadmill for 30 minutes and cover 5km quite comfortably today and in 12 months you run on the treadmill for 30 minutes and cover the same 5km, well, you haven’t actually improved your fitness. If you want to improve your aerobic fitness you will also need to overload your cardiovascular system in the same way that you overload your musculoskeletal system to get bigger and stronger muscles. That 30-minute run has got to cover 5.2km. Then 5.4km. Then… you get the idea. Only if that is happening are you actually making improvements.

Of course, there are numerous ways to overload your musculoskeletal and cardiovascular systems. This is also where a Personal Trainer becomes invaluable. It is our job to ensure that the principles of overloading are being followed so that you make the progress you’d like to see, whether it is for bigger and stronger muscles or for a better and fitter cardiovascular system. Everything mentioned in this blog is basic knowledge to our fantastic trainers so if you’d like some help with ensuring that you continue on your health and fitness journey in the most efficient way possible you should certainly speak to one of our wonderful trainers at your nearest club.


Yours in Health. 

Blog post courtesy of Chris Dounis, Senior Personal Trainer at Fit n Fast St Peters

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