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The Pillars of Training: Part 2

Let’s get straight back into it.

Training = Efficiency + Intensity + Progression + Longevity + Goal

Progression is the name of the game, but what is it and how do we achieve it?

To achieve progress, we must first address the factors that contribute towards achieving this.

Volume, overload and stress/fatigue management

We can define training volume as

“Sets x reps x weight”

Training volume is heavily dependent on your training goal. Individuals that are newer to the gym may be able to extract more adaptation with lower volume in comparison to the training OG who requires a higher volume to progress.

The amount of training volume that an individual can handle may be influenced by factors such as:

  • Other stressors in life i.e. work schedule, personal life, etc.

  • Energy balance

  • Current training volume i.e. is this enough stimulus or is it too much?

Which brings us onto the next factor, the principle of progressive overload. This can be defined as,

“an increase in intensity, duration, type, or time of a workout in order to seek adaptation”

Progressive overload can also be achieved via:

  • Technique progression; swapping a goblet squat for a back squat. They’re both a variation of a squat but you could argue a back squat has a higher physical demand.

  • Volume increases.

  • More exercises.

  • An increase in training sessions per week.

  • Tempo and rest adjustments.

If progressive overload is implemented correctly it can be greatly beneficial. However, if it isn’t then you can begin to experience stress from overreaching and overtraining.

“Overtraining can lead to a decrease in training performance as a result of mis-managed stress and fatigue”

Overreaching is simply a short-term version of this. Typical signs of these are:

  • An increase in resting heart rate

  • Elevated blood pressure

  • Decrease in appetite and weight loss

  • Lack of sleep

  • Emotional variability

  • Fatigue

  • Persistent muscle soreness

  • Lengthened recovery times

Simply put,

“Fatigue is your perception of stress response due to training and other factors outside of training”

Learning to manage stress and fatigue allows for better training recovery and helps to avoid overtraining.

Since fatigue is initially down to interpretation, it is difficult to measure this. Recovery is more of an art as opposed to a science. But there are some tools that we can use to gauge this with one of them being heart rate variability (HRV).

“HRV is the variation in the time interval between consecutive heartbeats in milliseconds”

This is considered a reflection of an individual’s adaptability to a stressor. A high degree of HRV is good and a lower HRV isn’t. Simply put, it indicates how well your body can deal with stress.

A stressor can push you into your bodies fight or flight response which is driven be the sympathetic nervous system and the removal of these stressors allow us to resume our rest and digest state which is driven by the parasympathetic nervous system. Training elicits the fight or flight response.

A healthy body is built to adapt to stress and an interplay in the autonomous nervous system (the umbrella term for sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous systems), allows the heart to respond to different situations and needs.

Here are some ways to manage stress and training recovery:

  • Adequate sleep (the research says between 7 – 10 hours)

  • Adequate nutrition (eating enough to allow you to recover)

  • Mindful breathing (meditation)

  • Supplementation (useless without addressing everything else)

  • Establishing a routine (one that you can stick to)


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