In the first two gym tips I discussed, we addressed the first two of three crucial components to health, fitness, or athletic success: mental preparation and nutrition.  Our next tip is focused on the third component, which is exercise.  In order to achieve fitness goals, especially those related to athletic performance, you should incorporate a progressive resistance exercise program into your plan.

A simple explanation of progressive resistance is that of Milo of Croton and his ability to carry an adult bull on his shoulders, which obviously requires amazing strength.

Milo (Greek: ?????) of Croton was a 6th century BC wrestler from the Greek city of Croton in southern Italy who enjoyed a brilliant wrestling career and won many victories in the most important athletic festivals of ancient Greece.[1][2][3] In addition to his athletic victories, Milo is credited by the ancient commentator Diodorus Siculus with leading his fellow citizens to military triumph over neighboring Sybaris in 510 BC.

Milo was said to be an associate of Pythagoras. One story tells of the wrestler saving the philosopher’s life when a roof was about to collapse upon him, and another that Milo may have married the philosopher’s daughter Myia. Like other successful athletes of ancient Greece, Milo was the subject of fantastic tales of strength and power, some, perhaps, based upon misinterpretations of his statues. Among other tales, he was said to have carried a bull on his shoulders, and to have burst a band about his brow by simply inflating the veins of his temples.

…Legends say he carried his own bronze statue to its place at Olympia, and once carried a four-year-old bull on his shoulders before slaughtering, roasting, and devouring it in one day.[2][3] He was said to have achieved the feat of lifting the bull by starting with a newborn ox, and carrying it everyday.[12][13]

Source:  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Milo_of_Croton

The take-away from this story is that each day Milo lifted just a little more than the day before until he achieved an amazing goal.  This is the definition and purpose of progressive resistance exercise. 

A well designed fitness plan recognizes that exercise is a systematic method of applying stress to the body.  Your body responds to that stress during the recovery process by adapting, and adaptation prepares you for the next workout.  In order to achieve a goal, you should plan to increase or change the type of stress applied to the body during workouts (progressive resistance exercise).  By changing number of reps, increasing amount of weight, limiting rest periods, or changing the type cardio you do, you’ll be incorporating progressive resistance into your plan.

Remember, the body adapts during the recovery period, not during stress.  If you neglect to include recovery time in your workout plan, it may inhibit your ability to progress and improve at the rate you desire (psst…one of the crucial gym tips). 

Including progressive exercise in your plan and evaluating yourself from a weekly, monthly, and yearly perspective will prevent you from becoming discouraged about poor performance such as a bad game or a disappointing workout.  As you use this theory you’ll begin to appreciate the times when you’re at your best and encourage yourself through times when your motivation is low or the china business of life takes time away from your training schedule.

Progressive resistance is one of my favorite gym tips, and one which I use to determine the type of workouts I do each day.  It’s also an excellent concept to remember when recovering from injury or any type of surgical procedure.