PROGRESSIVE OVERLOAD vs PROGRESSIVE RESISTANCE vs LINEAR VARIABLE RESISTANCE

If you workout then it’s likely that you’ve heard terms like Progressive Overload, Progressive Resistance Training or even Linear Variable Resistance.   If it makes your head spin trying to discern the differences between the three - don’t worry, here’s a quick and simple breakdown between each.

The most common of the three terms is Progressive Overload.  By using resistance training in your workout and challenging a muscle, your body adapts to this “overload” and your muscles get stronger. As you build strength, you need to “progressively” add more load in order to continue making progress. Now you can increase “the load” in several different ways.  Here’s just a few:

  • Do More Reps per Set
  • Do More Sets per Workout
  • Lift Heavier Weights
  • Less Rest Between Sets
  • Intensity Boosting Tricks such as Forced Reps, Drop Sets, Negatives, etc…

Each and all of these strategies can help you continue to challenge your muscles as they get stronger – and this cycle is the basis of “progressive overload”.  Now the terms Progressive Resistance, or Progressive Resistance Training (PRT) or even Progressive Resistance Exercise (PRE) are all just different ways of saying the same thing.

Out of all these similar sounding terms, there is one that is distinctly different and that is Linear Variable Resistance.  Unlike the others, this one has nothing to do with progressively getting stronger over TIME…..BUT it does involve adding “Progressive Resistance” through a range of motion….now how confusing is that?! LOL.   It’s actually simple, let me explain:   When doing a repetition, on most exercises, we are weaker at the beginning of the movement and stronger at the end of the range of motion.  A good example is the squat.  The very bottom of your squat the weight feels the heaviest but as you get to the top you are in a much stronger position.   This is why you see so many people doing half-squats.  They can do half of the range of motion with a heavy weight but they can’t go all the way down with that same weight.  So the dilemma then becomes how do you get the right weight that you can move at the bottom yet still be challenged at the top.   The answer is Linear Variable Resistance.

 One extremely effective solution is incorporating Latex Resistance Bands into your workout.  The concept is actually very simple - the more you stretch the band the more resistance it creates.  Imagine using resistance bands in a squat.  As you squat down the band is put in a more relaxed position and therefore creates less resistance.  As you squat back up the band stretches, creating more resistance.  This “variable resistance” more closely matches the natural strength curve of your muscles, compared to free weights where the resistance is fixed all the way through the movement.  By using resistance bands we can get the best of both worlds, not just with squats but any exercise and any muscle group. 

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