Feb 25, 2002

The Overload Principle

February 25 “Little strokes fell great oaks." -Benjamin Franklin

The overload principle refers to an athlete stimulating a muscle beyond its current capacity. This involves training with a high amount of intensity. Which brings us back to the Olympic lifts. Olympic lifting advocates as well as non-Olympic lifting advocates for the most part agree that the overload principle is a necessary part of training. In order to trigger muscle strength and growth, an athlete must train to failure and performed either more reps or more weight, or both. this is overload. In addition, other techniques such as forced reps and negative can be incorporated as well to overload the working muscle. constant tension on the muscle is a must inn order to achieve this type of stress on muscles.

Matt Brzycki in his article “One More Rep," explains,
“This principle states that in order to increase muscular size and strength, a muscle must be stressed -- or "overloaded" -- with a workload that is beyond its present capacity.”

StrongerAthletes.com would like to know why coaches still believe that they can use the overload principle when doing the Olympic lifts? Lets get into the execution of a power clean. The athlete initiates the movement then what takes over? Momentum. During the momentum phase of the lift, the tension was taken off the working muscles. How can overload be achieved with these type of movements? Reaching muscular failure in a muscle group is impossible when doing these quick lifts.

Mark Asanovich, strength coach of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers comments,
“The Overload Principle states that muscular development will only occur as a result of the application of a stress that exceeds the muscles volitional contractile capabilities. Therefore, if the application of the stressor is "momentum-assisted," the amount of stress is lessened once the load has been accelerated. As a result, muscular development is compromised. Consequently, performing exercises at maximal speeds will yield minimal muscular results.”

Again coaches need to know why they are doing the program they are doing. If a coach believes in using the Overload Principle then they need to incorporate the right kind of movements in their program.

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