Almost 2500 years ago there was a man who lived in southern Italy named Milo of Croton. Milo was one of the most accomplished wrestlers of his time, winning the men’s Olympic wrestling category 5 years in a row.
He was obviously a man of great strength, but how did he get so strong?
As the story goes, one day Milo saw a newborn calf and decided to lift it up and carry it on his shoulders. He repeated this for the next 4 years until he was no longer carrying a small calf, but a full grown 4 year old bull.
The interesting thing is that had Milo gone out on day one and tried to lift a 4 year old bull on his shoulders, he almost certainly would have failed and most likely would have injured himself in the process. But because he started when the calf was small, and was consistent every day, as the calf got bigger, Milo got stronger.
Our friend Milo probably didn’t realize it at the time, but he was actually following one of the principles of progressive overload in strength training – the S.A.I.D principle (Specific Adaptations to Imposed Demands).
This is one of the most important principles to remember when we’re trying to get stronger and build muscle. In order to get stronger, we need to gradually increase the demand (i.e. the weight we’re lifting) over time. When we do this properly and consistently, our muscles adapt to the imposed demands and get stronger.
Keep this in mind when you’re going to the gym.
During every workout you should be trying to increase something – either the number of reps you’re doing, or the weight you’re using for a specific exercise. It doesn’t have to be every exercise, every workout. But you should have a couple key exercises that you’re tracking and trying to improve on each workout.
Just like our friend Milo and his bull, we need to remember the S.A.I.D. principle during our workouts. Otherwise we’re more than likely wasting our time.
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