Progressive Overload


30 Mar
30Mar

I am glad to see that many of you have been participating in the workouts provided to you to better prepare you for the Academy.  The PFT Test results from Monday, March 25th, definitely showed improvement in many of your scores.  Some of the scores improved by more than 10 points.  For those of you who are participating in those workouts, it will be obvious to those of us on the staff.  For those who are not, we are nearing Reporting Day, and while six weeks is not ample time to prepare, it is still better than nothing.

Although you might not have a CrossFit gym at your disposal, I highly recommend implementing some high-intensity interval training (HIIT) into your training regimen.  To prepare simply through monostructural metabolic conditioning (running, rowing, biking, etc.), will cause you to struggle when we start including gymnastics movements and weightlifting into those workouts.  So, if you don’t have the equipment or venue for the workouts as they are prescribed, the best advice I have is to add some intervals of gymnastics movements and/or weightlifting movements into your runs. 

Burpees are a good exercise to help prepare yourself because they create both a cardiovascular and muscle fatigue effect which will challenge your energy pathways better than just steady-state running.    

All workouts ever created have one thing in common: progressive overload.  This is the gradual increase in weight, volume, intensity, frequency, or time training in order to achieve a specific goal.  Basically, the small incremental improvements you make each time you step into a gym, lace up your shoes, or pick up a barbell.

Squats, marathon running, Olympic lifting, and yoga are all designed to progressively adapt and improve something. This is because exercise, by its very nature, is an adaptive process.  It’s the whole reason we do it.  If you’re not attempting to improve or progress in some way, it’s probably not “training.”

This is why a thorough understanding of progressive overload and the “law of adaptation” is an absolute necessity. Too often people attack the weight rack or treadmill with no real comprehension of why they’re doing it.  It’s like attending an art class with no paint or brush, but expecting to reproduce the Mona Lisa.

The Law of Progressive Overload is why the training you do now is crucial to your success in the Kentucky State Police Academy.  There are three phases you need to be aware of: Shock Phase, Adaptation Phase, and Exhaustion Phase.  These three phases are potentially experienced when changing your training regimen.  I will spell these out with more detail and hopefully shed some light on how to stay in the Adaptation Phase, the phase that is most beneficial for your training.

Shock Phase: During this phase, you are stiff, sore, and run the risk of your body’s immune system fighting against you.  If you have never trained at 100% intensity, the first time you do, you will experience this phase.  For example, if you have never ran more than 10 miles, but you decide to go out tomorrow and run 26.2 miles (marathon distance), you will throw your body into shock.  You might complete the run, but the day after tomorrow is not going to be a good day for your training.  This is where the attrition rate in the Academy becomes problematic in the first week. Day 0 (Reporting Day) might not be enough to throw you into Shock Phase, but Day 1 and Day 2 are not days of lesser intensity.  If you train for intensity now, your body can avoid the Shock Phase and, instead, stay in Adaptation Phase.

Adaptation Phase: During this phase, your body is able to tolerate the stress, even when you are sleeping, there is a plethora of biological reactions going on.  Hormonal adaptations, nervous system adaptations, and muscle tissue adaptations are just a few of those reactions.  During this phase, your training and health are balanced with your body’s homeostasis, which lead to top performance.

Exhaustion Phase: During this phase, you are fatigued and ill.  Much like the Shock Phase, this is a result of intensity levels that your body is not accustomed to.  Also similar to the Shock Phase, this phase is a hindrance on your performance and physical health.  The Kentucky State Police Academy can be exhausting if you do not train appropriately. Your body has to gradually adapt in order to tolerate the levels of intensity and training you will endure each week.  If your body has not adapted to that before Week 1, the struggle to avoid the Exhaustion Phase will be real.

This is science.  The science it is based upon can be found in Ross Edgley’s “The World’s Fittest Book.”  I did not just make this stuff up for intimidation purposes.  Take heed to the warning, the training you do now, and hopefully have done over the past several months, will reap great benefit in May.  The true reward: October 25th.    

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