You still lift the same weight or run the same pace and don’t seem to get ahead?

Quite frequently I have a new personal training or boot camp client tell me that they just don’t improve, they cannot lift more weight, don’t gain muscle mass, don’t run any faster. They just don’t seem to be able to break the barrier that keeps them from performing better. So the question is, what is the underlying cause in most cases? I am aware that there are several other factors but we will discuss one particular one today.

I am talking about the Principle of Overload

Our bodies are in a certain equilibrium, also called homeostasis. This means that they are adjusted to the fitness level that we currently have and are able to perform well on that level without further adjustment being necessary.

If you want to improve you will have to challenge your body, you have to overload the equilibrium, challenge it, make it work at a level that it is not used to. Elite athletes especially have to find always new ways of challenging their bodies. This change can be brought upon by varying an exercise, changing the intensity, the volume and breaks. I am summing up several principles here as I write this but just know your training has to change and it has to be adjusted not randomly but planned. That is where good coaches, personal trainers or boot camp instructors come into play. Here is are two examples:


45 year old female, runner, cannot push her marathon pace below a 10 min/mile. Her training usually consists of 5 days a week of running, for of those are 4-5 miles with one long one varying anywhere from 13-20 miles. None of her runs include speed work, intervals and she does not do any weight training. Just a minor adjustment by possibly taking out one easy day and adding one day of intervals and one day of speed work will most likely improve her performance.

35 year old “weekend body builder” hast trouble building any mass after about 2 years of training. His training consisted mainly of 2-3 exercises with 5-6 sets and 10-15 repetitions (slow to moderate)  for each muscle group. He was training 4 days a week. Here we could say we just add another training but we won’t. Instead we are going to break his equilibrium by doing some olymping weight lifting exercises to develop power for about 6-8 weeks for about 2 days a week and a strength routine for 2 days that week with 2 Exercises per muscle group  with 5 sets, 5 repetitions at 85-87% RM.

These are just a couple of examples that are not going too much in depth and are much more designed to give you an idea how training can change to lead to more progress.

If you have any questions about your training or want a second opinion on your trainer please feel free to contact me.



Head Personal Trainer Shape Up Fitness & Wellness Consulting


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