16 May Progressive loading – Powerlifting lessons for the older folk
Powerlifting and strength training concept number two: progressive loading. Power lifters and strength trainers have known for decades that they need to progressively load their bodies every time they train. What I mean by that is every time we train, we need to progress in our training. We need to load our bodies a little bit more. That progressive loading gradually adds stress to our bodies which in turn gradually adapts and leaves us stronger. Power lifters may lift enormous weights and progressively load from an enormous base of strength, but us older folks will take our weight, which might seem small, and progressively load it. Where a 19 or 20 or 22 year old man might add 15 pounds a week for some period of time to his squat in his progression, we may add one pound a week, or maybe even one pound a month. But at the end the year, we would have had added at least 12 to 50 pounds to our functional strength.
We progressively load our exercises. This is something you can’t do when doing something like Zumba, water aerobics, or even physical therapy with a physical therapist. In those paradigms, we do the same movement over and over again at the same resistance. With strength training, we stress ourselves more and more each time. But because we’ve adapted to the previous stress, we’re able to take more stress with very little perceived increase in the difficulty of the work.
The need for progressive loading is one reason why we choose the barbell to train with. We can start with a very light bar, as little as one pound, and add weight in tiny 8oz increments if necessary to increase strength. This is not possible with rubber bands, nautilus machines or other equipment.