Exercise Science 101 – Part 1 – Stress

This is the first of a three part series on the basics of exercise.  The fitness industry has done a phenomenal job of complicating things and confusing people but it is my mission to break down all the geeky science and fitness myths into “Layman’s Terms” so you can succeed with whatever your fitness goals may be.

If want to create a body that is capable of pumping ut big league power then you have to follow this simple 3 step formula:

  1. Stress your body– provide a physical stress to your body that is just beyond what you are capable of doing.
  2. Rest your body- let your body repair, grow and adapt to the stress.
  3. Repeat – be consistent

That is basically it ladies and gentlemen; everything you read about exercise can be classified into one of these three categories.  While there are of course a lot of finer details that I will discuss in further articles about these three basic components I will just focus on the fundamental principles for now.

#1 – Stress – Build Legendary Strength

Willie Mays Kneeling on Ground

The legend of Milo of Croton is the old story of a  in weight lifting and illustrates the point of stress and how it builds strength.  The legend states that as a young man Milo lifted and carried a newborn calf on his shoulders while walking around and he continued to pick up and carry this calf everyday as the calf grew into maturity forcing his body to become stronger.  The story culminates with Milo walking into the Olympic stadium carrying a full grown bull over his head.


This story represents a principal in the exercise science world called progressive overload.  This principal, first identified by Dr. Thomas Delorme, requires a gradual increase in volume, frequency, intensity or time in order to produce a positive adaptation such as decreased fat stores and increased muscle.

The tough part about this progressive overload principal is that you have to push your body beyond its limits because if you don’t, your body will not make any changes.

db rack

Start on the top row and progress to the bottom (don’t forget about the middle row and technique for each rep too!!)

The bottom line is you are going to have to work hard and keep pushing yourself to get to where you want to be. Stop judging your workouts on how sweaty you are or how sore your muscles are the next day.  To see if you are on the right path just simply ask yourself if you did better than the last time you did that workout.  If the answer is “Yes” then congratulations you just had a great workout and are on your way.  It is beyond the scope of this article but there will be times that you will have to purposely underachieve in order to make bigger gains but we will cross that bridge when we get there.

The path towards your goals is simple but it’s not easy.



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