How to properly load your Muscles
Now if you’ve read or listened to any of my other blog posts or podcasts, you’ve probably heard me talk about loading your muscles again and again. But, what does this really mean?
Muscles are loaded best when a few things happen:
- The movement brings the origin of the muscle towards the insertion
- The force (weight/cable/ band/gravity/whatever) is actually loading the muscle
- The strength profile of the muscle and the resistance curve match (check out last week’s podcast to learn more about what this means!)
- Surrounding structures (like cartilage/discs/ligaments/bursa/rotator cuff muscles) are at little or no risk of rupture or damage
Muscle strength happens when the muscle is progressively overloaded using these principles to create optimal change. When a new movement is introduced that does not follow these principles, less optimal change will occur.
What truly works for improving your fitness is progressive overload and intentional exercise selection, using the principles I mentioned above.
Progressive Overload in Evlo
When you’re new to Evlo, you will find that there is a period of coordination and motor learning that is involved. At this point, you can’t use super heavyweight, and your body might be sore.
That’s because your body is learning these new movements, which is likely to cause soreness. After about a month or so, your soreness will diminish, and you will notice the weights you used initially are becoming too light.
That first month is your period of motor learning, your nervous system has to work to become efficient at a movement. Then, later, you can lift heavier weights and/or do more repetitions.
Now after this period, it’s easy to think you aren’t making progress anymore because you’re not getting sore like as did at the beginning. But, in reality, this is where the real change begins to happen.
After two to three months of progressive overload, where you focus on doing more repetitions or using heavier weight, you’ll start to see your body adapt. This is because your brain has to focus less on coordinating the movement, and can focus more on producing output or force in your muscles.
When you do an exercise that specifically targets a muscle group, and include two to three days of recovery, the muscle is repaired to be stronger.
Over time, you will progressively lift more, or do more reps, without getting fatigued.
The process takes time and patience, but eventually, you can get to a point where you are happy with the definition in your body, and move to “maintenance” where you are keeping your weight or reps about the same each workout.
But, where this process is often interrupted is when you constantly introduce new motor learning activities and movements into the mix, and you have to start over from square one.
This can kill our progress because instead of focusing on producing output in the muscle you are trying to strengthen, your brain is focused on figuring out how to coordinate a new movement. This means you might create a stronger circuit to that exact skill, but you miss out on creating optimal stimulus in the muscle you are trying to change.
So as a fitness instructor, when I was developing the Evlo method, I asked myself how I can make my program exciting and encourage people to stay consistent, while still staying true to the science of progressive overload.
Here’s what we do in Evlo, and what I recommend you try too:
Selectively choose the most optimal exercises for each muscle group. But where you can change things up is in the tempo, order, workout design, equipment, and more to make sure your workouts still feel fresh, while creating the most desirable change.
I often hear from our Evlo members that they don’t dread their workouts as they did in other programs. I think it’s because we practice progressive overload. My clients know they will see progress week after week, and it feels so satisfying to feel the muscle we target actually contract and fatigue without joint pain.
So if you’re not seeing results, or if your joints feel like crap from your workouts, it could be because you’re mixing it up too much! I encourage you to try spending your time working on progressive overload; with the most effective, bang-for-your-buck exercises.
If you’re ready for your joints to feel better and to apply these principles to your workouts, time to join us at Evlo!