Progressive Overload Creates the Change
When I first start introducing newcomers to my CRT program, one of the first things I preach is to never skip the light weight. " Go slow and build them up", as they say. That seems easy enough, doesn't it?......until you have to define light weight. Everyone's version of the word "light" may be different, and that is also why it is crucial to treat each dog as an individual. When anyone starts out in the CRT program, the allure to add more resistance weight is usually pretty strong at first. Many base their decision on wanting to add more weight rather quickly, for a variety of reasons such as their dogs weight, drive level, or excessive energy. I've also met plenty of people who have no real clue as to WHY they are doing something with their dogs, but do so, because the person in front of them told them to do it that way. I don't like to provide my clients or even myself with those answers. I've been studying human strength and conditioning for some time now, and it baffles me that the terms I am introducing you too on this blog are JUST now being introduced! Why do we start dogs on low weight, why can't we just skip through it quickly and get them onto the fun stuff like tires, carts, and sleds?
Progressive Overload is summarized to mean, gradual increase of stress placed on the body during exercise. The word gradual is key there. Dogs OR Humans, professional trainers or everyday dog owners---- this concept should be well understood if you are doing resistance work with your dogs. Yet, I bet this is the first time MANY of you are hearing about it? CRT was designed using these core concepts. I created a program for owners to follow that harbored this very principle, yet allowed compliance and therefore offer the consistent steadfast benefits of low weight resistance training. The concept of gradual increase is exactly why rushing and adding weight too quickly on a dog will prove to be a disadvantage. Even if the dog looks like he or she is handling 7lbs of resistance with ease, their body is responding the way it should-- so don't skip over the light weight. The cellular structure in canines is NOT that much different than of humans and the molecular processes function largely the same. Your dog's muscles tear and repair to grow in size, the same as ours do........so keep reading.............
Along with understanding the definition of progressive overload, we should also really take a look at the concept of change. That's right... "change". We all know change can be a little scary and we tend to become apprehensive about it and often attempt to resist change, as it is a stressor.
But, what is the definition of change? How does it occur? Why and how does that fit into CRT? I recommend everyone training with my CRT protocol start with a certain percentage of their dog's body weight. That number isn't a number I just made up. I didn't just pick some number out of the sky like most people assume or often do when starting out. I don't base that number on what "slows" the dog down, or burns the excessive energy off--in fact, I choose a resistance weight that feels like nothing to the dog, yet will provide the necessary resistance to begin the progressive overload gradual build up. I want enthusiasm and look for cheerful peppy step while dogs are doing their sessions. I want the dog to feel as if he or she is doing the most awesome, "amazing thing ever" with their person. I don't want a dog, who is maybe a few weeks into resistance work and already feeling like the training is difficult and tedious and mentally quit after a year of training. I've got all the time in the world to slowly make incremental increases and altercations in their training that will begin to challenge the dogs mentally---but when they are JUST getting started--I avoid those moments like the plague. So how do we get change to happen? Change occurs as a result of adaption or when something is exposed to a repeatedly stimulus.....that's a nice diluted definition of very complex theories, of course. Muscle Hypertrophy, or the enlargement of muscles, can only occur once trauma to the existing muscle fibers has been done. That sounds awful, doesn't it?
Well....the micro trauma is the change. It is the muscles adapting to the gradual overload and stress placed on them. I want to change the dog's body. Change is a stressor remember, and to begin progressive overload, we need a gradual stressor. For a dog that has never done resistance work before, too much resistance weight is a lot of stress. The body needs time to adapt and change. I want the musculature to develop, the tendons and ligaments to fill out and grow stronger for additional support. I want to change the dog's perception to resistance, to be viewed as a fun exercise. You can't do that overnight, even in one month . All of this is asking for change. How can we ask for something if we do not understand how it's done?
Don't skip the light weight. By skipping or rushing the light weight, our dogs wont have the required time to adapt to the change we are asking of them...both mentally and physically. Progressive Overload...its super important. Know it, understand it. It's what drives the CRT program and what and why we do what we do with our dogs.