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Welcome to Day 6 of the BWF Primer Build-up!
Hey folks! Nick-E here.
Last workout of the week before you get a rest day tomorrow! Well done for making it this far.
Today we’ll be doing:
– Some reading about how progressive overload works practically during bodyweight training
– Your second workout with glute bridges in it!
Today’s Learning: Progressive Overload Specifically for BWF.
So Progressive Overload was briefly touched on in Day 2, as a way to keep the SAID Principle working for you over a long period of time. But today we’re going to actually go over how progressive overload works, and particularly how progressive overload is achieved in bodyweight training.
So we established in day 2 that progressive overload is the process of always keeping the intensity of exercise you are doing one step ahead of your bodies’ ability to fully adapt to it. Like a carrot dangling in front of a donkey. It never quite catches up.
For strength training, the main method of progressive overload is gradually making the exercises you do ‘heavier’, over time. (The quotation marks around ‘heavier’ are key for us.)
If you were performing weight training, this would be very straight forward, and would simply involve increasing the weight of what you are lifting by a very small increment on a regular basis (e.g. an increase of 2.5kg every session or every week).
However, you can’t do this with bodyweight fitness, because you only weigh as much as you weigh. Because the total weight of your body can’t be freely manipulated like a dumbbell or barbell, you have to get clever with using leverages to intensify the load put on the muscles*, even though your total bodyweight does not change*.
The best example of this is the push-up, and you all have been using this principle already in your workouts.
We all started on Day 1 learning how to do push-ups. It’s very likely that almost none of you doing this challenge were already able to do a push-up on the floor upon starting the program. However, in order to adjust the push-up to make it appropriate for anyone’s strength level, we changed the level of inclination.
This works because in a push-up position, your weight is spread between your hands and your feet. The higher your hands are relative to your feet, the less weight is on your hands relatively. Think of it like a see-saw. So if there is less weight on your hands, you have to push less of your overall bodyweight when you do your push-up.
What you do to progressively overload your push-up from here, is over time you will gradually decrease the height of what you place your hands on to do the push-ups until you are doing them on the floor!
(Fun Fact: By the time you are doing push-ups on the floor, you will be pushing roughly 65-70% of your bodyweight)
Beyond the full floor push-up, there is a small scope to continue to put the feet higher than the hands to continue this process, but not much. Progressive overload for push-ups gets a bit trickier after this point. You will have to move on to a new exercise or variation of exercise when the time comes to progress again.
And this is how progressive overload most commonly works in BWF. You will have a list of exercises that work the same muscles (sometimes with varying emphases on those muscles, but nonetheless) that get progressively harder and harder through creative use of leverages, and you will go from one to the next as you get stronger.
However, the jump in intensity between these exercises is much steeper. Unlike a dumbbell exercise, where you can go from 10kg, to 12kg, to 14kg, in easy small increments, progressing from one variation to the next in BWF can feel like going from 10kg to 20kg all at once.
Therefore, we need to have a method of bridging that gap, and that’s where rep progression comes from.
If you can only do 5 reps of an exercise, doing 5 reps of a significantly harder progression is just way too hard. But if you can do 12 reps of an exercise, doing 5 reps of a significantly harder progression then becomes quite easily doable. That is why within BWF, all exercises will have an inbuilt rep progression before moving on to a new exercise. Just like you have been doing now!
In this program (The BWF Primer) The rep range for your upper body exercises is exactly that. 3 sets of 5-12 reps. Once you hit 3×12, you would move up to a harder exercise, for only 3×5 reps and repeat the process. In the interest of this first 2 week period being about learning moreso than hard training, you will not be progressing the exercises once you reach that rep range. But once you move on to the full program, you will be!
(REMINDER: IF YOU ARE FAILING ANY OF YOUR SETS, OR EVEN PUSHING CLOSE TO FAILURE, YOU ARE WORKING WAY TOO HARD. PICK AN EASIER LEVEL OF INCLINATION/EXERCISE VARIATION THAT YOU COULD DO SEVERAL MORE REPS OF IF YOU HAD TO. THE FOCUS OF THIS PHASE OF THE PRIMER ROUTINE IS ON TECHNIQUE PRACTICE AND LEARNING, NOT PUSHING YOURSELF TO YOUR LIMIT OR EVEN CLOSE. IF YOU PUSH YOURSELF TO FAILURE 6x A WEEK FOR TWO WEEKS YOU WILL BE MASSIVELY OVERDOING IT AND BURN OUT QUICKLY.)
Ok, I did it!
If you want to chat about your experience so far, I’ve set up a new ‘beginners zone’ in the /r/bodyweightfitness discord server, so you can come chat with other new exercisers in a friendly environment, with friendly helpers with experience with exercise that have volunteered to answer any questions you may have!